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What Is Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disorder

What Are The Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

ALL ABOUT HASHIMOTOS THYROIDITIS DISEASE | Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment | Thyroid Autoimmune Disease

There are no signs or symptoms that are unique to Hashimotos thyroiditis.

Because the condition usually progresses very slowly over many years, people with Hashimotos thyroiditis may not have any symptoms early on, even when the characteristic thyroid peroxidase antibodies are detected in blood tests. TPO is an enzyme that plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones. If Hashimotos thyroiditis causes cell damage leading to low thyroid hormone levels, patients will eventually develop symptoms of hypothyroidism . Hypothyroid symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin, depression, muscle aches and reduced exercise tolerance, and irregular or heavy menses. In some cases, the inflammation causes the thyroid to become enlarged , which rarely may cause neck discomfort or difficulty swallowing.

What Causes Hashimotos Thyroiditis

Your immune system normally protects you by killing bacteria and viruses. It does this with the help of antibodies. In Hashimotos thyroiditis, there are antibodies that specifically attack the thyroid gland. Over many years, the gland starts malfunctioning. It starts to produce less and less of the thyroid hormone.

What Does The Thyroid Do

Your thyroid has an important job to do within your body releasing and controlling thyroid hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is a process where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy. This energy is used throughout your entire body to keep many of your bodys systems working correctly. Think of your metabolism as a generator. It takes in raw energy and uses it to power something bigger.

The thyroid controls your metabolism with a few specific hormones T4 and T3 . These two hormones are created by the thyroid and they tell the bodys cells how much energy to use. When your thyroid works properly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements.

This is all supervised by something called the pituitary gland. Located in the center of the skull, below your brain, the pituitary gland monitors and controls the amount of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream. When the pituitary gland senses a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of hormones in your body, it will adjust the amounts with its own hormone. This hormone is called thyroid stimulating hormone . The TSH will be sent to the thyroid and it will tell the thyroid what needs to be done to get the body back to normal.

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How Is Hashimotos Disease Diagnosed

First, your healthcare provider will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she will feel your thyroid gland to determine if it is enlarged. Blood tests are also ordered. These include:

  • Thyroid stimulating hormone test: A high TSH level most commonly means the thyroid gland is not producing enough T4 hormone. This lab is usually most consistent with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism.
  • Free T4 test: A low T4 level suggests that the person has hypothyroidism.
  • Antithyroid antibody test: Presence of antibodies indicates a higher risk of developing Hashimotos hypothyroidism.

The most common imaging test that may be ordered is an ultrasound of your thyroid gland. The ultrasound shows the size and appearance of the thyroid and if there are any nodules or growths in your neck area.

Fast Facts About Hashimotos Thyroiditis

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  • Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. These types of disorders are caused by a malfunction in your immune system. Doctors arent sure what causes autoimmune disorders to occur.
  • The main risk factor for developing Hashimotos thyroiditis is having a preexisting autoimmune condition, such as celiac disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjorens syndrome, and type 1 diabetes.
  • Women are 7 times more likely to have Hashimotos thyroiditis than men.
  • Hypothyroidism and goiters are common problems associated with Hashimotos thyroiditis.
  • If you have Hashimotos thyroiditis, you are at a higher risk of developing other autoimmune disorders and, to a lesser extent, a specific form of thyroid cancer. Other complications include high cholesterol, heart disease and heart failure, high blood pressure, increased risk of birth defects for pregnant women, and a rare condition known as myxedema which is life-threatening.
  • Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is the only treatment available for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Fortunately, it’s highly effective at managing the condition.
  • Because Hashimotos is a highly treatable condition, a diagnosis does not affect your overall life expectancy.

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If Part Of My Thyroid Is Surgically Removed Will The Other Part Be Able To Make Enough Thyroid Hormones To Keep Me Off Of Medication

Sometimes, your surgeon may be able to remove part of your thyroid and leave the other part so that it can continue to create and release thyroid hormones. This is most likely in situations where you have a nodule thats causing your thyroid problem. About 75% of people who have only one side of the thyroid removed are able to make enough thyroid hormone after surgery without hormone replacement therapy.

What Other Problems Can Hypothyroidism Cause

Hypothyroidism can contribute to high cholesterol. In rare cases, untreated hypothyroidism can cause myxedema coma. This is a condition in which your body’s functions slow down to the point that it becomes life-threatening.

During pregnancy, hypothyroidism can cause complications, such as premature birth, high blood pressure in pregnancy, and miscarriage. It can also slow the baby’s growth and development.

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Treatment For Hashimotos Disease

With treatment, the outlook for most people with Hashimotos disease is excellent. Treatment usually includes medication with the synthetic thyroid hormone . The doctor will recommend regular blood tests to monitor your thyroid hormone levels to ensure they are within the recommended range.You will need to take the medication for life. Medication does not cure the condition, but helps maintain normal thyroid hormone levels. The symptoms will return if thyroid medication is stopped. Surgery may be required if the enlarged gland causes pressure symptoms.

Hashimotos Disease Reduces Production Of Thyroid Hormones

Hypothyroidism & Hashimoto’s Disease | Thyroid Treatments

The thyroid gland makes two main hormones thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine . Two brain structures, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, regulate the hormones released by the thyroid gland. The steps in the process are:

  • The chain of command begins at the hypothalamus, which prompts the pituitary gland to make a chemical called thyroid-stimulating hormone .
  • The pituitary gland checks the amount of T4 and T3 in the blood and releases TSH if the T4 and T3 levels need to be topped up.
  • The thyroid gland secretes T4 and T3 depending on the order it receives from the pituitary gland. Generally speaking, the more TSH the thyroid receives, the more T4 and T3 it secretes.
  • The pituitary gland may order the thyroid gland to make T4 and T3 but, in the case of Hashimotos disease, the thyroid gland cant deliver.
  • The immune system creates antibodies that attack thyroid tissue. The thyroid gland becomes inflamed and thyroid cells become permanently damaged, which hampers the thyroids ability to make T4 and T3.
  • In response, the pituitary gland secretes more thyroid-secreting hormone .
  • The thyroid may enlarge as it attempts to obey the pituitary gland.

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Hashimotos Often Goes Undiagnosed

Hashimotos prompts your body to create antibodies that attack and inflame the thyroid.

But doctors often dont check blood for the telltale antibodies because all hypothyroidism is treated the same way.

Many people are never told they have Hashimotos, says Dr. Kellis. But at the end of the day, if your thyroid is underactive, its usually Hashimotos thyroiditis, she says.

Other, less common, causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Surgical removal of the thyroid.
  • Radiation to the neck.
  • Use of certain psychiatric, heart, cancer or rheumatologic medications.

So knowing whether or not you have Hashimotos may be a moot point unless youre a woman trying to conceive.

Hashimotos carries a slightly higher risk of miscarriage, so youll need the blood test for thyroid antibodies, says Dr. Kellis.

You may need to take thyroid supplements, even if your TSH levels are normal.

How Is The Diagnosis Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Made

The diagnosis of Hashimotos thyroiditis may be made when patients present with symptoms of hypothyroidism, often accompanied by a goiter on physical examination, and laboratory testing of hypothyroidism, which is an elevated thyroid stimulating hormone with or without a low thyroid hormone levels. TPO antibody, when measured, is usually elevated.

Occasionally, the disease may be diagnosed early, especially in people with a strong family history of thyroid disease. TPO antibody may be positive, but thyroid hormone levels may be normal or there may only be isolated mild elevation of serum TSH is seen. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may be absent.

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Detection Of Hashimotos Thyroiditis

This disease can be diagnosed using the following tests:

  • T3 test: This is a small-scale test that shows problems with the pituitary gland and a hormone called triiodothyronine.
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test: TSH is a hormone that stimulates the thyroid glands to produce and release other hormones into the human bloodstream. This test shows if there is a problem with your levels of this hormone.
  • Free T4 Test: The balance of this hormone is very important. It is common for it to be elevated due to some medication, such as contraception, while barbiturates lower this level. However, with these factors excluded, the level should be good.

Foods To Avoid In Your Hashimoto Diet

Thyroid Disease &  Problems 101: Symptoms, Diagnosis ...

Understanding how your Hashimoto diet impacts your thyroid function can be of great benefit to help your thyroid function optimally. It is equally important to avoid foods that can aggravate Hashimotos, and to make sure you add in foods that can ensure proper thyroid function. As part of this Hashimotos diet, you will feel better, have more energy and achieve overall wellness.

The 5 foods listed below should raise a red flag to anyone with Hashimotos. Heres why you should avoid or limit your consumption of them as part of your diet for Hashimoto.

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How Does Hashimoto’s Disease Affect Women

Women are more likely than men to get Hashimoto’s disease. It also affects women differently than men. Most problems from Hashimoto’s disease happen when women develop hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can cause:

  • Problems with your menstrual cycle. Your thyroid hormone can affect your menstrual cycle. Too little thyroid hormone can lead to irregular menstrual cycles or periods that are heavier than normal.
  • Problems getting pregnant. Irregular menstrual cycles can make it harder for women with Hashimoto’s to get pregnant. Studies show that almost half of women with hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease had problems getting pregnant. Most of these women were recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism or had not yet started treatment for hypothyroidism.
  • Problems during pregnancy. The unborn baby’s brain and nervous system need thyroid hormone to develop. Untreated or poorly treated Hashimoto’s disease can lead to , birth defects, or .

What Are The Complications Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

The complications of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are the same as those of an underactive thyroid gland.

Goiter: As described above, the pituitary will try to stimulate production of thyroid hormone in an underactive thyroid gland affected by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This may cause the gland to become enlarged. Unlike a thyroid nodule, in which only a part of the gland is enlarged, in this case the entire gland enlarges, a condition known as a goiter. Goiterous glands are usually no more than a cosmetic nuisance. However, in extreme cases, growth of the gland may cause impingement on the esophagus or the trachea, impairing swallowing and breathing, respectively.

Cardiac complications: Prolonged hypothyroidism that may result from untreated Hashimoto’s thyroiditis also may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The heart disease may be directly related to hypothyroid effects on the heart, causing changes in contraction and rhythm that may lead to subsequent heart failure. There may also be indirect influences, such as hypercholesterolemia .

Psychiatric complications:Depression may occur early in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and if underlying depression exists, the addition of Hashimoto’s may worsen the condition. Patients may complain of mental fogginess or slowing of reaction times, and a decrease in sexual desire is often observed.

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Does Hashimotos Affect Life Expectancy

No. Because Hashimotos is very treatable, it doesnt typically affect your life expectancy. However, left untreated Hashimotos can sometimes lead to heart conditions or heart failure. In extreme cases, it can also cause myxedema, a rare but life-threatening condition that includes progressive drowsiness followed by extreme fatigue and eventual unconsciousness. For these reasons, its important to see a doctor if you suspect you may have Hashimotos syndrome.

How can we help?

Would you like to learn more about Hashimotos syndrome or the treatment process? Contact CentreSprings MD to discuss your symptoms and treatment options or book an appointment today.

Gluten Remove As Much As Possible

Thyroid Problem: Hashimoto’s Disease

Gluten increases intestinal permeability, which can lead to what is called leaky gut. If you have Hashimotos, you more than likely have some degree of gluten intolerance. Removing gluten from your diet helps reduce inflammation and increases the absorption of many nutrients. If you have leaky gut already, explore repairing it with the addition of collagen peptides into your diet, as collagen can help repair your intestinal lining.

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Ultrasound Appearance Of Hashimotos Thyroiditis

Hashimotos thyroiditis appears as a diffusely irregular gland with increased vascularity throughout the gland. Pseudo nodules of thyroiditis appear like well-defined nodules however they resolve over short periods of time and the diagnosis is made when the nodule can no longer be identified. Pseudonodules are not real nodules. They are an ultrasound “artifact” produced by edema in an area of the thyroid gland. Thyroid cancer and Hashimotos thyroiditis are not exclusive of each other. They may co-exist together and therefore any suspicious thyroid nodule within Hashimotos thyroiditis should be biopsied based upon its size and overall concern. Hashimotos thyroiditis is commonly associated with increased size and prominence of the lymph nodes in the area of the thyroid gland. These lymph nodes cannot be differentiated from thyroid cancer lymph nodes based upon their general ultrasound appearance.

Find out more about Thyroid Cancer and spread to lymph nodes here: Thyroid Cancer Overview

Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s symptoms may be mild at first or take years to develop. The first sign of the disease is often an enlarged thyroid, called a goiter. The goiter may cause the front of your neck to look swollen. A large goiter may make swallowing difficult. Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid due to Hashimoto’s may include:

  • Weight gain

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How Is Hashimotos Thyroiditis Diagnosed

When you see the doctor, mention all symptoms or physical and mental health changes you experienced, even though you may think theyre meaningless.

If your symptoms coincide with those of hypothyroidism, the physician may already assume you have Hashimotos thyroiditis.

To rule out other health problems with similar symptoms, the doctor will perform different diagnostic tests including:

  • TSH test usually the first test performed and its purpose is to detect amounts of TSH in the blood and it is the most accurate measure of thyroid gland activity. If results show TSH levels are above normal, a person has hypothyroidism
  • T4 test measures the amount of thyroid hormone found in the blood. If levels of T4 are below normal, a patient is hypothyroid
  • Antibody Tests These are the two main tests doctors use to diagnose Hashimotos. Make sure to get both the Thyroid peroxidase antibody and Thyroglobulin antibody tests.
  • Ultrasound to evaluate size and texture of thyroid and a pattern of typical autoimmune inflammation
  • CT scan to examine the placement and extent of a large goiter and to analyze the goiters impact on nearby structures

Our article on normal thyroid levels may help after taking these tests.

Hashimotos Thyroiditis Causes And Risk Factors

Get the Skinny on Hashimoto

Like all autoimmune diseases, Hashimotos thyroiditis is caused by a malfunction in your immune system that leads immune cells to attack healthy tissue rather than protect it. In the case of Hashimotos, being under attack from invading immune cells reduces the thyroid glands ability to make enough thyroid hormone, leading to hypothyroidism.

The invading immune cells also cause inflammation and swelling of the thyroid, which over time can produce a visible and troublesome mass in the neck .

Scientists dont really know yet why the immune system, which is supposed to defend the body from harmful viruses and bacteria, sometimes turns against the bodys healthy tissues.

But they do know that there are several risk factors known to make a person more susceptible to Hashimotos. These include being a woman, being between the ages of 30 and 50, having a family history of thyroid problems or autoimmune diseases, and having a preexisting autoimmune condition such as Addisons disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, or certain liver conditions.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s Disease

You may not have any symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease for years. The first sign is often an enlarged thyroid, called a goiter. The goiter may cause the front of your neck to look swollen. You may feel it in your throat, or it may be hard to swallow. But most people don’t have any symptoms, and goiters rarely cause pain.

Some women with Hashimoto’s disease have problems getting pregnant.

Hashimoto’s disease often leads to an underactive thyroid gland . Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include feeling tired, feeling cold when others do not, constipation, weight gain, and heavier-than-normal menstrual periods. about hypothyroidism.

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