Understanding Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

by | May 25, 2021

To celebrate May 25th, World Thyroid Day, I have written about this famous gland.

The medical term “thyroiditis” refers to inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are many causes of thyroiditis and today’s topic is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

 

What is Hashimoto’s?

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body can’t tell the difference between its own cells and foreign cells, so it attacks the thyroid causing inflammation. Hashimoto’s disease can be seen at any age and affects more women than men, as is the case with many autoimmune diseases. The autoimmune response creates antithyroid antibodies, also known as anti TPO (antibodies against the thyroid antigen thyroid peroxidase), which can destroy thyroid tissue leading to low hormone levels. As a result, patients will eventually develop symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin, and in some cases, the thyroid even becomes enlarged may cause difficulty swallowing.

Anti TPO antibodies can be detected in the blood, and sometimes are found even in the absence of thyroid dysfunction. In these individuals, who are TPO positive with normal thyroid function, other factors such as pregnancy and aging play a major role in determining when or if the dysfunction develops.

 

Who can develop Hashimoto’s?

There are many factors that can lead to the development of Hashimoto’s disease. Genetics may play a role as people who develop an autoimmune response are more likely to have a family history of autoimmune diseases. The onset of Hashimoto’s is often due to elements in the environment. One of these elements is iodine which is mainly found in table salt, but is also found in canned products such as sausage, sea foods such as seaweed, fish and Japanese foods, prepared snacks, soups, bread or even some medications. Excess iodine may cause lesions in the thyroid cells. This does not mean that we should eliminate iodine from the diet as it is important for the production of thyroid hormones. What should be avoided are excesses.

 

Treatment

Patients with elevated thyroid antibodies but normal thyroid function tests (TSH and free T4) do not require treatment. For patients with overt hypothyroidism: elevated TSH and low thyroid hormone, the treatment consists of thyroid replacement therapy. Synthetic levothyroxine taken orally is effective and inexpensive. Most patients with Hashimoto’s will require lifelong treatment with levothyroxine. Initially it may take 6-8 weeks for effective dose adjustment. If the dose is excessive, patients might develop symptoms of rapid heartbeats, diarrhea, sweating and insomnia.

GluCare offers artificial intelligence enhanced, same day, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders. Our specialized program includes support from a care team including an endocrinologist, dietitian, nursing, and coach support team. Our in-house laboratory provides results within minutes, and our ability to perform an ultrasound during your visit enables quick diagnosis and same day treatment. For continuing care and monitoring, smart devices are used to measure heart rate and sleep hours after your visit to support your ongoing treatment of thyroiditis.

Reference: American Thyroid Association-2021

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