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Hashimoto Thyroiditis (Autoimmune Thyroiditis) Causes And Symptoms

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Hashimoto Thyroiditis

Hashimoto thyroiditis is a disease that affects the thyroid, a small gland located at the base of the neck below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system that produces hormones that coordinate many activities of the body. In Hashimoto thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis, the lymphocytic immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Hashimoto thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease (the body produces antibodies against its own tissues, not recognizing them as it own), but may have a hereditary component (familial component).

Hashimoto thyroiditis is characterized by production of autoantibodies by the immune cells and immune system, which can damage the thyroid cells and compromise their ability to produce thyroid hormones. Resulting in inflammation often leads to a decrease in thyroid activity (hypothyroidism).

The result of Hashimoto thyroiditis is often hypothyroidism. Hashimoto thyroiditis is about 5-10 times more common in women than in men and most often has its onset in adulthood. The incidence increases in patients with chromosomal disorders, including those with Down syndrome, Turner syndrome or Klinefelter syndrome.

Hashimoto Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis

Hashimoto Thyroiditis Causes

Hashimoto thyroiditis is a condition caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland due to the autoimmune process but the main cause of the autoimmune process is still unknown. Direct cause of the condition can be any process that affects the integrity of the thyroid gland and contributes to the transition of thyroglobulin in the blood stream: post-operative trauma, destruction of thyroid tissue with radioactive iodine, inflammatory processes or prolonged and irrational treatment with iodine (sporadic goiter). Hashimoto thyroiditis often occurs in the same familly (it has a genetic component) and can be present in a patiant along with a group of other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 and celiac disease. Blood tests in patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis reveals high levels of antibodies against an enzyme that is found within the thyroid called thyroid peroxidase.

The interaction of antibodies with thyroid peroxidase causes  inflammation of the thyroid gland thus thyroid gland tissue is destroyed, leading to hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone deficiency). Hashimoto thyroiditis is sometimes associated with other autoimmune diseases: Addison disease (adrenal insufficiency), diabetes mellitus type 1, hypoparathyroidism, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, connective tissue diseases (eg rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s syndrome) and Schmidt syndrome (Addison’s disease, diabetes and  hypothyroidism secondary to Hashimoto thyroiditis).

Hashimoto Thyroiditis

Hashimoto Thyroiditis

Autoimmune Thyroiditis Symptoms

Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis often not accompanied by any symptoms and the discovery is made after laboratory tests. Sometimes there is a growing in volume of the thyroid, due to the chronic inflammatory process, any increase in volume of the thyroid gland is called goiter. If the thyroid can no longer form thyroid hormones after the inflammatory process , and a lack of thyroid hormones occurs, known as hypothyroidism, the advanced form of hypothyroidism is called myxedema. Clinical signs of hypothyroidism are frequently ignored for a long time:

  • Slowness in thinking and drowsiness
  • Lack of concentration and decrease attention
  • Swelling of eyelids, hands and feet
  • Slow growth of hair and nails
  • Dry skin
  • Thickened voice, hoarse
  • Weight gain
  • Poor appetite and constipation
  • Decreased concentration, attention, memory and thinking slow
  • Depression and irritability
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Irregular menstruation cycles

To these symptoms bradycardia (pulse rare) and goiter may be associated in varying proportions.