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Hashimoto's Disease

What is Hashimoto's Disease?

Hashimoto's disease is a disease characterized by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's disease is classified as an autoimmune disease.

In Hashimoto's disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland, causing the thyroid gland to decrease its production of thyroid hormones.

Hashimoto's disease progresses slowly over a number of years and causes chronic thyroid damage, leading to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood.

Hashimoto's disease is also called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Struma lymphomatosa, Lymphadenoid goiter, Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Autoimmune thyroiditis and Chronic thyroiditis.

What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located at the back of the neck below the Adam's apple. The thyroid consists of two lobes. The lobes are wrapped around the windpipe. The thyroid produces thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism. Regulation of metabolism is critical in controlling mood, weight and mental and physical energy levels.

What Causes Hashimoto's Disease?

The exact cause of Hashimoto's disease is unknown.

Symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease

In some cases symptoms may not be present. When symptoms are present, the most common symptoms are:

  • Intolerance to cold
  • Unintentional weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Goiter
  • Small or atrophic thyroid gland
  • Dry skin
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heavy and irregular menses
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Joint stiffness
  • Facial swelling

Can Hashimoto's Disease be Treated?

Yes. Treatments are aimed at reducing the severity of the symptoms. Replacement therapy with thyroid hormone is given if the hormone is deficient or may be given if there is evidence of mild thyroid failure.

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