Thyroid Problems

Equip yourself. Learn about thyroid problems.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease, and is believed to be top North American cause of primary hypothyroidism. It is also known under the names of Hashimoto's disease and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. Its primary name relates to Japanese physician Hashimoto Hakaru, the first to describe the symptoms.

In the condition, T-cells, which are lymphocytes (a group of white blood cells), invade and attack the thyroid gland. Antibodies against thyroglobulin and/or thyroid peroxidase are present. Although they over time destroy the follicles of the thyroid, they may also be used for diagnosis as they can be clinically detected in the patient's blood.

Symptoms

When reading the following, just remember that these items are not the only potential symptoms. That a person does not have any of these does not mean that Hashimoto's thyroiditis should be ruled out. On the flip side of the coin, these can also be caused by other situations, so even if a person does have some of these symptoms, they may be due to another underlying reason. With that in mind, some main symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis include:

Bradycardia (slow resting heart rate)
Constipation
Depression
Enlarged thyroid area
Fatigue
Hair loss
High cholesterol
Hypoglycemia (reactive)
Infertility
Memory loss
Migraine headaches
Nausea
Numbness and tingling
Panic attacks and mania
Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
Weight change (weight loss or weight gain)

Causes

There is an autoimmune aspect to Hashimoto's. However, the details regarding how the immune system destroys thyroid cells in this condition are not understood well. There seems to be some relation to genetics, and in particular the CTLA-4 gene. In general, there frequently is a family history when it comes to thyroid problems.


Diagnosis

A doctor or other professional is the one to attempt to make a diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Frequently, the condition is misdiagnosed as something else, so tests done to check thyroid-stimulating hormone, as well as antithyroid antibodies (ATA) may prove to be useful in determining whether the illness is Hashimoto's. Some issues that it may be misdiagnosed as include: cyclothymia, premenstrual syndrome, and depression.

Treatment

Once diagnosed, common treatment for Hashimoto's thyroiditis involves thyroid hormone replacement. The medicine typically must be taken for the remainder of the individual's lifetime. Left untreated, this disease may lead to muscle failure, including heart failure.