6 Things You Need to Know about Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
While Hashimoto's thyroiditis has no cure, timely diagnosis and proper treatment can help you manage it and prevent complications. Learn more in this article.
In 1912, Japanese doctor Hakaru Hashimoto discovered a new immune system disease.
According to his research, this disease involves immune system attacking the thyroid glands.
Learn more about Hashimoto’s disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, below.
1. What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
When Hashimoto did his research, he discovered that the immune system sometimes attacks body tissue instead of protecting it.
In the case of this disease, the body attacks the thyroid glands.
Thus, the immediate result is a considerable reduction in the production of hormones you need for many bodily functions.
Check this out, too: 5 Things You Should Know About Autoimmune Diseases
2. The causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
The causes of the disease are not completely understood, but scientists believe certain aspects are related to its development.
If you have the four risk factors below, you should to see a specialist to determine if you have the disease or what your risk is.
First of all, this disease often occurs in families with instances of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or similar diseases.
It’s important to talk with your loved ones and get tests done in order to rule out serious problems.
In addition, Doctor Hashimoto’s studies showed that excessive iodine in the body can trigger this disease.
Even though you should always avoid consuming too much iodine, pay special attention to your consumption if you have a family history.
Unexplained hormonal changes
Since Hashimoto’s disease affects the thyroids, your hormone levels can alter.
In general, most women with the disease are diagnosed between one and five years after giving birth, although it can appear before pregnancy as well.
Exposure to radiation
This disease is one of the most common effects of radiation exposure.
Different studies done after the explosions at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl demonstrate this.
Patients who have received radiation for leukemia and other types of cancer may also develop the disease.
3. Symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
The symptoms show up slowly, making it difficult to catch.
Changes you should watch out for include:
- Extreme tiredness or daily, constant fatigue.
- Sensitivity to cold.
- Chronic, sudden constipation.
- Swollen-looking face.
- Constant snoring.
- Pale, dry skin.
- Stiff hip and shoulder muscles.
- Weak lower extremities.
- Weight gain due to fluid retention.
- Stiff hand, foot, and knee joints.
- Constant depression.
- Excessive menstrual bleeding.
4. Detecting Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Hashimoto’s disease can be diagnosed with the following tests:
- T3 Test: A test that shows problems with the pituitary gland and triiodothyronine hormone.
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) Test: TSH is a hormone that stimulates the thyroids to produce and release other hormones into your bloodstream. This test will check if your levels are off.
- Free T4 Test: The balance of this hormone is very important.It’s common for it to be elevated due to medication such as contraceptives, while barbiturates lower it. Outside of these factors, it should be a the correct level.
5. What does this disease do?
Naturally, the problems that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes lie in it being an autoimmune disease. As we’ve mentioned, it is a condition in which the body turns against its own tissues and organs.
Overall, this means that the affected tissues start to lose their ability to perform the jobs they are supposed to do.
Over time, other autoimmune diseases may develop as a result:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Lupus erythematosus
- Ovary problems
- Heart problems
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Addison’s disease
We recommend reading: 9 Facts about Ovarian Cysts that Every Woman Should Know
5. Preventing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
Unfortunately, there really is no way to prevent Hashimoto’s disease. However, what you can do is keep the risk factors in mind and watch for symptoms.
If you have a family history or if your doctor indicates you have a risk factor, you should have tests every year to make sure everything is ok.
Overall, if you want to prevent or lower your risk, a healthy lifestyle that includes a proper diet, exercise, and rest can be a big help.
However, it’s important to remember that the disease has symptoms that are quite clear to specialists, so it is fairly easy to catch in a timely manner.
The tests are very precise and early diagnosis can help you manage the disease well and avoid complications.