Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism in the U.S. It was first reported by Japanese Dr. Hakaru Hashimoto in 1912 as an autoimmune disorder. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is affected by the body’s own antibodies and T lymphocytes, which attack and destroy thyroid-specific proteins such as thyroperoxidase and thyroglobulin. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease because the body’s antibodies silently attack the thyroid gland causing it to swell and also destroying thyroid proteins, eventually leading to symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are still not known. However, factors such as heredity, genetic mutations, hormonal imbalance, excessive iodine, and exposure to radiation seem to cause autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Though there may be many factors that influence the attack on thyroid gland by the body’s own antibodies, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is essentially an autoimmune disease that is not caused by external agents such as microorganisms or drugs.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis begin with the swelling of the thyroid gland. Other symptoms of this autoimmune disease include:
- Abnormal weight gain as in the case of hypothyroidism
- Slower heart rate
- Paleness and puffiness of face are symptoms of this autoimmune disorder
- Chronic fatigue is one of the common symptoms associated with this autoimmune disorder
- Difficulty in getting pregnant could also be one of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Excessive hair loss and thinning of hair caused due to hypothyroidism
- Irregular or heavy menstrual periods are noticed as a symptom of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Increased sensitivity to heat and cold is also one of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Memory loss and loss of vision are also noted with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism
- Muscle weakness and stiffness in the joints are symptoms of this autoimmune disorder
Most of these symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are also symptoms of hypothyroidism. Some women acquire hypothyroidism during pregnancy, which is usually reverted within one year after child birth. Yet, almost 20 percent of these women develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis years later. There is no cure yet for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but medications can help replace the hormones to regulate the hormone levels in your body and to restore your normal metabolism.
Since Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a precursor for hypothyroidism, noting the symptoms and being watchful of autoimmune disorders can help revert the condition faster and avoid having to face lifelong damage.
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