Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s Disease – also called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – is a serious medical condition in which a person’s own immune system begins attacking their thyroid gland.  Hashimoto’s Disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the country, and it can affect both men and women of all ages.  However, it is most commonly seen in middle-aged women.

Because symptoms are vague and can be mistaken for other conditions, cases of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are best diagnosed and treated by a qualified endocrinologist.  In this blog, we wanted to briefly discuss the condition, and its indicators.

The Basics of Hashimoto’s Disease

Simply put, Hashimoto’s disease occurs when damaged immune-system cells, called lymphocytes, begin to invade and attack the thyroid gland.  Mistaking it for a threat to the body, they begin to slowly attack and break down the gland.

At first, this usually manifests as a swollen thyroid gland, as it begins continually fighting off the immune system.  This repair process also causes it to reroute energy and resources which would otherwise be used to produce hormones.  Over time, left untreated, this leads to hypothyroidism – a condition marked by an under-performing thyroid which is not producing enough hormones.

Fortunately, this is a very slow process.  Patients can have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis for years before symptoms even develop.  Even once symptoms become obvious, it can be years more before it becomes a serious threat.  At any point, several treatment options are available, including hormone supplements to replace what the thyroid itself is not producing.

Currently, medical science does not know what causes Hashimoto’s Disease.  It is generally believed to be a genetic condition, because people whose families have a history of Hashimoto or other auto-immune diseases are at higher risk.

The Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Simply put, the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are the same as hypothyroidism in general.  Hypothyroidism – a lack of vital hormones regulating bodily activity – causes the entire body to become depressed and the metabolism to slow down.

The most common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include:

  • Sluggishness and lethargy
  • Mental depression
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Constant feeling of being cold, or intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Continual constipation
  • Decreased libido
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Dry skin
  • Dry hair
  • Hair loss
  • Dry or cracked nails
  • Constant muscle aches, pains, or cramps
  • Memory lapses

If You Suspect Thyroid Problems, Contact an Endocrinologist!

An endocrinologist like Dr. Freeman specializes in the thyroid gland and diseases of the endocrine system.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment for evaluation!

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