Hashimoto’s disease is caused due to the malfunctioning of human immune system that starts attacking the thyroid gland. This article gives information about this disease, its causes, symptoms, and the treatment options available.
A very small looking thyroid gland constitutes various glands & tissues, and helps the body to maintain the chemical balance, and produce various hormones. These hormones and chemicals are an integral part of various processes, such as, metabolism, reproduction, protein production, body temperature maintenance, etc.
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
As mentioned earlier, it is a medical condition that occurs due to the malfunctioning of human immune system that starts affecting the thyroid gland. The damaged thyroid gland slowly becomes less active, and fails to produce the necessary amount of hormones and chemicals causing chemical imbalance in the body. This condition leads to inflammation of the thyroid gland, which is also known as Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis.
Hypothyroidism (also known as under active thyroid gland) is the very next stage of this disease. If right treatment is not availed at the right time, the problem may lead to swollen thyroid gland (a condition known as goiter), and can also induce memory related problems in the patient.
The main reason as to why the immune system starts attacking thyroid gland is still unknown. Some attribute this unexplained behavior of the immune system to be a genetic flaw, and some think that it may be a condition caused due to involvement of some bacteria or virus. Whereas, most of the doctors and scientists believe it to be a result of different factors and conditions altogether.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic disease, and is characterized by symptoms, which are recognizable once the condition leads to hypothyroidism. The damage to the thyroid gland is done over many years, and it leads to decreased level of thyroid secreted hormones in the blood (hormone deficiency). Thus, hypothyroidism symptoms only, are the most trusted symptoms to confirm the disease, due to its chronic nature.
As the hormone deficiency in blood increases; symptoms of hypothyroidism also start surfacing. It causes various problems, such as, chemical imbalance, fatigue, depression, etc. Many people start complaining about problems related to muscles, such as, pain, sudden stiffness as well as tenderness in the muscles, and weakness of the muscles in various organs of the body. People also experience joint pain and swelling in the joints of hands and legs. Pale and dry skin, change in voice (croaky voice), swollen face, sudden rise in the cholesterol level, constipation, weakened immune system against cold, problems with menstrual cycles in women, such as excessive bleeding, etc., are few more known symptoms experienced by people suffering from this disease.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above (such as tiredness, hoarse voice, swollen face, skin dryness, and/or symptoms of hypothyroidism), you should consult your physician. You can help yourself by regularly visiting your physician for a routine check-up.
Your doctor may suggest to get yourself checked for Hashimoto’s disease, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms that indicate problems related to the thyroid gland. Your doctor may also ask you to undergo blood test (hormone test and antibiotic test) to find out the hormone and antibiotic levels in the blood, and types of antibiotics present in the blood, which is also known as TSH test.
The treatment of this disease involves medications as well as hormone therapy. As the disorder forms over an extended period, it is very hard to say, if the hormone deficiency is directly related with the problems involved with thyroid gland. The hormone replacement therapy involves use of synthetic thyroid hormones. Along with medicines, the doctor may also ask you to undergo various naturopathy treatments.
If the condition is left untreated, it may cause various problems, such as, risks related to the heart, goiter, increased fatigue, etc. Babies born to women, who have untreated Hashimoto’s disease, may have many severe birth defects. Increasing depression and mental disorders, unconsciousness (a part of the condition called Myxedema), etc., are also certain complications associated with the disease.