Hashimoto's Disease - PIH Health

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Published on July 07, 2016


Thyroid Disease

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid causing hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small gland located internally at the base of the neck. Part of your endocrine system, the thyroid produces hormones that coordinate with many of our body’s activities. Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone at any time; however Hashimoto’s has most commonly affected middle-age women.

What factors cause Hashimoto’s?

Although the cause of Hashimoto’s is still unknown, many factors may play a role, these include:

  • Genes. Some people may be born with genes that are more susceptible to developing Hashimoto’s. Researchers are currently working on finding the gene or genes involved.
  • Hormones. Since the disease has shown up in more women than men, some science believes the sex hormones may play a role.
  • Pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes and imbalances.

Symptoms to be aware of:

Hashimoto’s symptoms may be mild to moderate at first and may even take years to develop. Additionally, many symptoms may apply to other ailments, so while it’s important to pay attention to early warning signs, it’s also important to check in with your doctor. “Your body is a unique machine that offers you information daily. Keeping a log of what you eat, tracking joint pain, weight gain and excessive fatigue, may help you and your doctor gain a better understanding of early symptoms,” says Ghasak Mahmood MD, a PIH Health endocrinologist.

Seven signs of Hashimoto’s disease:

  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

Talk to your doctor

If you are suffering from any of the seven signs of Hashimoto’s, it’s important to talk to you doctor. If your doctor has suggested Hashimoto’s as a possible outcome, make sure you ask these key questions:

  • What test do I need?
  • Is my condition temporary or chronic?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend for my condition?
  • How will you monitor if my treatment is working?
  • Are there any restrictions I need to follow?

Our immune system works hard to keep us healthy. For example, if bacteria or virus enters the body, the immune system will attack against it. Sometimes however, the body will attack something that is not foreign, such as the thyroid gland. “Upon each attack, the thyroid becomes weaker; resulting in a decreased function of the gland that is clinically called a hypothyroid state. The body has to fight harder to maintain a healthy balance which may result in the reliance of lifelong medication,” says Dr. Mahmood.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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