Hashimoto thyroiditis involves chronic, autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid. This is the most prevalent form of thyroiditis and the usual cause for hypothyroidism. Due to reasons still unknown, the body turns against itself where the thyroid is invaded by white blood cells and the antibodies are created to attack the thyroid gland.
In almost half of cases, the thyroid is initially underactive. In the other half of cases, the thyroid is normal at first and then it becomes underactive.
Some individuals with Hashimoto thyroiditis have other endocrine issues such as diabetes, underactive parathyroid glands, underactive adrenal gland and other autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or pernicious anemia.
The condition is quite common among women especially of older age and has a tendency to run in families.
What are the indications of Hashimoto thyroiditis?
Hashimoto thyroiditis often starts with a painless, firm enlargement of the thyroid gland or a sensation of fullness in the neck. The gland typically has a rubber-like texture and oftentimes feels lumpy.
If the thyroid is underactive, the individual feels tired and intolerant of cold along with other symptoms of hypothyroidism. Some who have an overactive thyroid might initially experience nervousness, palpitations and heat intolerance.
How is it diagnosed
The doctor will measure the blood levels of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to pinpoint how the gland is functioning. Nevertheless, a diagnosis is based on the physical examination and the results of a blood test to check whether the individual has anti-thyroid antibodies that attack the gland.
Even today, there is no specific treatment available for Hashimoto thyroiditis. Many individuals eventually develop hypothyroidism; thus they have to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for life.
The thyroid hormone can also be beneficial in minimizing the size of the enlarged thyroid gland. Individuals who have the condition must avoid excess intake of iodine from natural sources such as seaweed and kelp tablets.