Hashimoto's Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck just below the Adam's apple. The thyroid produces hormones that help regulate many functions in the body.
An autoimmune disorder is an illness caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissues. In Hashimoto's disease, immune-system cells lead to the death of the thyroid's hormone-producing cells. The disease usually results in a decline in hormone production (hypothyroidism).
Although anyone can develop Hashimoto's disease, it's most common among middle-aged women. The primary treatment is thyroid hormone replacement.
Hashimoto's disease is also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis and chronic autoimmune thyroiditis.
CAUSES OF HASHIMOTO THYROIDITIS
The cause of Hashimoto's disease is unknown, but it may be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It appears to run in families, so there may be a genetic predisposition for developing the disorder. However, not everyone with a family history of Hashimoto's disease will develop the condition. There are also environmental factors that may play a role, such as stress or infections.
SYMPTOMS OF HASHIMOTO THYROIDITIS
Many people with Hashimoto's disease have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. When present, symptoms may include: Fatigue, Muscle weakness, Joint pain, Cold intolerance.
Weight gain or weight loss despite no change in diet or exercise habits. Constipation or diarrhea, Menstrual irregularities, Depression, Dry skin, Puffiness in the face, Enlargement of the tongue, Early onset of menopause, Hoarseness Carpal tunnel syndrome
Anaemia, Brain fog, Brittle nails, Swelling in legs and feet, Joint pain, Headaches, Feeling flushed, Tingling or numbness in extremities, Heat intolerance Excessive sweating, leg cramps Frequent urination, Anxiety, Palpitations, Insomnia, Shortness of breath, Gastrointestinal issues, like GERD Acid reflux, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain Intestinal gas Pelvic pain.
There is no one test used to diagnose Hashimoto's disease. Your doctor will likely take a complete medical history and ask about your symptoms and family health history. A physical exam will also be done. Based on this information, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests: TSH test - A high level of TSH indicates an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), which is often seen in people with Hashimoto's disease Antibody tests.
The primary treatment for hypothyroidism associated with Hashimoto's disease is levothyroxine (Levothroid, Levaxin, Synthroid), a synthetic form of thyroxine (thyroid hormone). This medication replaces missing hormone and can help relieve symptoms within several weeks to months after starting therapy.
Most people need to take levothyroxine for life. In some cases, treatment may also involve radioactive iodine therapy or surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland (thyroidectomy). However, these procedures are usually reserved for cases that don't respond well to levothyroxine therapy or case of cancer.
There are also natural treatments that can help alleviate symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness and joint pain; some examples include: Eating a nutritious diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Taking supplements like vitamins D and B12 Getting regular exercise. Taking herbs like Ashwagandha Reducing stress through yoga and meditation.
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If you are experiencing any combination of the above symptoms, it is important to see your doctor so they can determine whether or not you have Hashimoto's Disease. Once diagnosed, there are treatments available that can help you manage your symptoms so you can live a normal, healthy life!