Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Some Causes, Symptoms & Complications

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Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

The Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition in which the immune system is attacking the thyroid, which is a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is composed of the endocrine system of the body. It produces hormones that coordinate many of the body’s functions. The inflammation from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. It often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (which is also known as hypothyroidism).

The most common cause for hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Primarily, it affects middle-aged women, but also, it can happen in men and women of any age and in children. Doctors are testing the thyroid function to help detect Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is usually with thyroid hormone replacement and it is simple and effective.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Symptoms:

Many people do not notice signs or symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis at first. They may notice a swelling at the front of the throat (also known as goiter). Typically, this type of condition is progressing slowly over years and it is causing chronic thyroid damage, leading to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood. Generally, the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are those of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Some signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include:

  • Memory lapses
  • Depression
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • A puffy face
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Fatigue and sluggishness

If you develop some of the next signs and symptoms (constipation; pale, puffy face; dry skin; tiredness for no apparent reason), then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Causes:

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

The exact cause for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is not known. But, it is thought that many factors play a role in it. Some of them include:

  • Radiation exposure: The increased cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and thyroid disease are reported in people who are exposed to radiation, including the Chernobyl nuclear accident, atomic bombs in Japan, and radiation treatment for a form of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s disease.
  • Excessive iodine: In some studies are shown that some drugs and too much iodine, which is a trace element needed by our bodies to make thyroid hormones, may trigger thyroid disease in susceptible people.
  • Hormones: It is noticed that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is affecting about seven times as many women as men, which means that sex hormones may play a role. Also,it is noticed that some women can have thyroid problems during the first year after having a baby. Usually, this problem goes away. But, about 20% of these women develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis years later.
  • Genes: In many studies is said that people who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often have family members who have thyroid disease or other autoimmune diseases. This is suggesting that a genetic component is playing a role in this disease.

Complications:

If you leave Hashimoto’s thyroiditis untreated, then it can cause many health problems, such as

  • Birth defects: Babies who are born to women with untreated hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have a higher risk of birth defects compared with babies who are born to healthy mothers. Doctors know that these children are more prone to intellectual and developmental problems. There may be a connection between hypothyroid pregnancies and birth deformities, such as a cleft palate.
  • Heart problems: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, primarily due to the high levels of LDL, which can happen in people with underactive thyroid glands. If you leave it untreated, then Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can lead to an enlarged heart and possibly heart failure.
  • Goiter: The constant stimulation of the thyroid to release more hormones can cause the gland to become enlarged and this condition is known as a goiter. One of the most common causes for goiter is hypothyroidism. Generally, it is not uncomfortable, but a large goiter can affect your appearance and it can interfere with breathing or swallowing.

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