Hashimoto’s disease is a problem in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It produces hormones that control metabolism, the rate of body processes. Metabolism includes factors such as heart rate and how quickly you burn calories. When you have Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system starts attacking the thyroid gland and causes it to swell and become irritated. When this happens, the thyroid can not produce hormones as usual.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease?
Many people with Hashimoto’s disease have no symptoms. The disease progresses over time and the symptoms are similar to those of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid disease). This is due to the attack on the thyroid gland causes the hormone to produce less.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include:
- Unexpected weight gain.
- Increased sensitivity to cold.
- Muscle aches, cramps, tenderness or stiffness.
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints.
- Pale and dry.
- Swollen face.
- Hoarse voice.
- In women, menstrual periods that are heavier than normal.
- Elevated blood cholesterol.
- Visible enlargement of the thyroid.
What is the cause of Hashimoto’s disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease. Normally, antibodies produced by the immune system helps protect the body from viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that attack the tissues and/or organs of the body. In the case of Hashimoto’s disease, antibodies against the thyroid.
How will my doctor know I have Hashimoto’s disease?
A blood test can determine if the thyroid gland is not functioning properly. This measures the hormone levels to detect Hashimoto’s disease.
How is Hashimoto’s disease treated?
Hashimoto’s disease has no cure. However, your doctor may treat the malfunction of the thyroid, to minimize any long term effect.
Treatment for Hashimoto’s disease is the daily administration of a synthetic thyroid hormone in pill form. This medicine will regulate hormone levels and will make your metabolism back to normal. It will also reduce cholesterol low density lipoprotein and may help reverse weight gain. The thyroid medication can replace the hormones that usually causes the thyroid gland. The time during which to take the medicine depend on the results of your blood tests. For most people, taking a thyroid hormone medicine causes no problem.