Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Hypothyroidism
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
What is hashimoto’s thyroiditis hypothyroidism?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also called Hashimoto’s disease or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. It may lead to hypothyroidism. In this case, the thyroid gland, located in the front of the throat below the Adam’s apple, does not produce enough hormones for the body anymore. The thyroid hormones are important for the metabolism. This condition can affect anyone, but is more common in women than men, and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50. Hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is treated by administering a replacement thyroid hormone.
The thyroid gland sits at the front of the throat, and produces a hormone (thyroid hormone) which controls metabolism (cell activity). In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system begins to mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. This causes damage to the thyroid, and less thyroid hormone is produced. This is called hypothyroidism. The exact cause for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is not known, though it is probable that several interacting events occur to cause this condition. Some factors which seem to increase the chance of developing this condition include having a family member with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, cigarette smoking, some viral infections, exposure to radiation and stress. This condition is more common in women than men, and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.
In the early stages, there may be no symptoms, or just a slowly enlarging thyroid lump (goiter). The front of the throat may be sore or tender. Other symptoms include tiredness, weight gain, pale and dry skin, constipation, sensitivity to cold weather, joint and muscle pain and difficulty concentrating. Women may experience difficulty falling pregnant and irregular menstrual periods.
The diagnosis is made based on the symptoms and appearance of the affected person, and a blood test that measures levels of thyroid hormones. A blood test is also done which checks for antibodies (proteins which fight infection) which are active against the thyroid gland and thyroid hormone. If a goiter (thyroid lump) is present, this might be scanned by ultrasound, and a sample (biopsy) may be taken to exclude other causes for the lump.
Treatment involves replacement of the thyroid hormone with medication. This is life-long treatment, as the thyroid gland does not recover. This treatment reverses the symptoms of the reduced thyroid function.
Other names for hashimotos thyroiditis hypothyroidism
- Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis
- Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis
- Hashimoto thyroiditis