Autoimmune thyroiditis is caused due to a malfunction in the immune system. In this condition, inflammation of the thyroid gland occurs which impairs its function. The following article provides information about the various symptoms, diagnostic methods, and treatment options available for this condition.
An inflammation in the thyroid glands is called thyroiditis. Autoimmune thyroiditis (AT), De Quervain’s thyroiditis, and silent thyroiditis are some of the types of thyroiditis. AT is popularly known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, as this condition was first diagnosed by a Japanese physician Hakaru Hashimoto in the year 1912. This condition is also known as chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.
AT is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism as it causes inflammation in the thyroid gland. In this condition, the abnormal antibodies and white blood cells mistakenly attack the normal thyroid cells. This damage causes insufficient supply of thyroid hormones. This condition is commonly found in women, more specifically in middle-aged women. Besides women, people with a family history of thyroid disorder are more susceptible to this condition.
Although it takes a long time to detect this condition, knowing the symptoms can help one to get the right treatment and prevent more severe symptoms. Some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- Enlarged neck or goiter
- Mild weight gain
- Difficulty in thinking and concentrating
- Heavy and irregular periods
- Dry skin
- Hair loss, dry and coarse hair
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Low appetite
- Swelling of the face, more prominent around the eyes
- Muscle pain and muscle weakness
- Suscetibility to infections and cold
- Excessive sweating
- Trembling hands
- Swelling of the legs
- High cholesterol levels
- Intolerance to cold, and also heat sensitivity
Once the symptoms are identified, the diagnosis of this condition involves clinical evaluation by a trained physician. After conducting a thorough physical examination, the physician prescribes certain thyroid blood tests to check the thyroid functions. Given below is the list of blood tests.
- T4 test
- T3 test
- TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test
- T3 resin uptake/ T3RU
- Antithyroglobulin antibodies
- Antithyroid peroxidase antibodies
- Antimicrosomal antibodies
- Thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins
- Thyroid receptor antibodies
- Radioactive iodine uptake
If AT results in insufficient production of the thyroid hormones, then a thyroid replacement therapy/levothyroxine might be recommended. It may also be recommended in case of subclinical hypothyroidism where the patient experiences signs and symptoms of mild thyroid failure. In most cases, a general observation is enough to keep the thyroid levels normal, until its deficiency is detected. One can also resort to natural treatment methods for good results.
This condition can be controlled, provided it is detected at an early stage. However, in case any of the above mentioned symptoms develop consult a doctor immediately.