The onset of Hashimoto's thyroiditis is slow

Chronic hashimoto's thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland that frequently results in hypothyroidism (lowered thyroid function). It can occur at any age, but it is most often seen in middle aged women. It is caused by a reaction of the immune system against the thyroid gland.

The onset of the disease is slow, and it may take months or even years for the condition to be detected. Chronic thyroiditis is most common in women and individuals with a family history of thyroid disease. It is estimated to affect between 0.1% and 5% of all adults in Western countries.

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Hashimoto's thyroiditis may rarely be associated with other endocrine disorders caused by the immune system. When Hashimoto's disease occurs with adrenal insufficiency and type 1 diabetes mellitus, the condition is called type 2 polyglandular autoimmune syndrome (PGA II).

Less commonly, Hashimoto occurs with hypoparathyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, and fungal infections of the mouth and nails in a condition called type 1 polyglandular autoimmune syndrome (PGA I).

Symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis

  • Intolerance to cold
  • Weight gain - mild
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Enlarged neck or presence of goiter
  • Small or atrophic thyroid gland (late in the disease)
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Heavy and irregular menses
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking

Additional symptoms that may be associated with Hashimoto's thyroiditis:

  • Weight gain (unintentional)
  • Joint stiffness
  • Facial swelling

Treatment of Hashimoto's disease

A deficiency of thyroid hormone may develop at a later time. Replacement therapy with thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) is given if the hormone is deficient or may be given if there is evidence of mild thyroid failure (such as elevated TSH), also known as subclinical hypothyroidism. If there is no evidence of thyroid hormone deficiency, treatment may be limited to regular observation by a health care provider.

Prevention of Hashimoto's thyroiditis

There is no known medical way to prevent this disorder. Awareness of risk factors may allow earlier diagnosis and treatment. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and supplementing your diet with the proper nutrients will contribute in reducing the risk of health disorders.

Get more information on Hashimoto's thyroiditis.


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