The Hashimoto Disease and the thyroid gland

The Hashimoto’s disease may sound rare to your ears. However, actually, this is not a new disease. In fact, a well-known model, like Gigi Hadid, and actor in the Guardian of The Galaxy, Zoe Saldana, is known to have this disease too. Actually, what is Hashimoto’s disease?

What is Hashimoto’s disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation. This disease has many other names, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.

The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of the neck under your Adam’s apple. This gland is responsible for producing hormones that control energy use and regulate heart rate.

This disease can attack all ages, especially elderly women. If left untreated, inflammation of the thyroid gland can cause the thyroid gland to become less active (hypothyroidism).

In fact, left hypothyroidism will cause heart failure, psychiatric disorders, and myxedema (complications of hypothyroidism).

Signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease

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Early in the development of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, most people may not feel any symptoms.
However, you may feel swelling in the front of the throat.

Over the years, this disease will progress and cause chronic thyroid damage. As a result, thyroid hormone levels in the blood will decrease causing hypothyroidism.

The following signs and symptoms that might occur due to Hashimoto’s disease, include:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • More sensitive to cold air
  • Constipation
  • Swelling of the face
  • The skin becomes dry and pale
  • Nails become brittle easily and hair loss
  • Enlarged tongue size
  • Stiff muscle and joint pain
  • Muscle becomes weak
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Depression and memory decline
  • Excessive or prolonged bleeding during menstruation (menorrhagia)
  • Slowing heart rate

Causes of Hashimoto’s disease

Inflammation of the thyroid gland is caused by antibodies created by the immune system. The immune system mistook the thyroid as a threat, thus making a number of white blood cells to attack.

Until now doctors and medical experts do not yet know exactly how this condition can occur. However, most believe that this condition is triggered by a combination of defective genes, viruses, and bacteria.

Who is at risk for Hashimoto’s disease?

Quoted from the page of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is 8 times more common in women aged 40-60 years.

In addition, people with certain conditions are also more at risk of developing this disease, including:

  • Autoimmune hepatitis (a liver disease|a disease Is which the immune system attacks the liver)
  • Celiac disease (indigestion)
  • Lupus (chronic disorders that can affect parts of the body)
  • Pernicious anemia (a condition caused by vitamin B12 deficiency)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (disorders that affect the joints)
  • Sjögren’s syndrome (an illness that causes dry eyes and mouth)
  • Type 1 diabetes (insulin disorders in maintaining blood sugar levels)
  • Vitiligo (a non-pigmented skin condition)
  • Have surgery in the area around the thyroid gland or get radiation therapy around the chest

How is Hashimoto’s disease diagnosed?

The symptoms caused by Hashimoto’s disease are similar to many other diseases.

To get the right diagnosis, your doctor will ask you to undergo a series of health tests, such as:

Hormone test

Aims to find out the changes that occur in thyroid hormone production.

Antibody test

Done to detect the production of abnormal antibodies that attack the thyroid peroxidase (an enzyme that plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones).

Treatment of Hashimoto’s disease

If the doctor has determined that you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the treatment that is usually recommended is artificial hormone therapy.

This therapy is done by giving artificial thyroid hormones, such as levothyroxine. It aims to restore hormone levels while reducing symptoms.

During therapy, your doctor will continue to check your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels regularly once a week.cThe goal is to let your doctor know how much your body needs a dose of artificial hormones.

During therapy, patients need to maintain their food intake, supplements, and other medicines. The reason is, certain ingredients can interfere with the absorption of levothyroxine in the body.

Some medications and supplements that interfere with the work of levothyroxine include:

  • Iron and calcium supplements
  • Cholestyramine (Prevalite), a drug used to reduce blood cholesterol levels
  • Aluminum hydroxide and sucralfate, which are found in some drugs for stomach acid.