Hashimoto's disease (also referred to as Hashimoto's thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis) is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. This ultimately results in a decline in hormone production which can cause hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid); a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial hormones .
Although it's most common in women, it can affect pretty much anyone. In fact, it's one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism in the United States, affecting about 5 out of every 100 people. Here's everything you need to know.
See also: Thyroid Problems | The Signs And Solutions
What is Hashimoto's disease and what are the symptoms?
Hashimoto's disease typically progresses over a long period of time and more often than not, may show little to no noticeable symptoms . As the disease progresses, however, it's common for the thyroid to become noticeably larger - resulting in the front of the neck looking swollen.
If symptoms do occur, they are mainly ones associated with hypothyroidism, these include:
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of the tongue
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
See also: Hypothyroidism Symptoms Checklist: How To Spot An Under-active Thyroid
What is the main cause of Hashimoto's disease?
Doctors aren’t completely sure what causes your immune system to attack your thyroid gland but there are some risk factors associated with the disorder, these include:
According to Mayo Clinic, while it can affect both genders, women are at an increased risk of developing the disease. In fact, it's estimated that it's at least 8 times more common in women than men.
Although this disease can occur during the teenage years, it more often appears between the ages of 40-60.
A person's chances of developing Hashimoto's disease increases if they have a family history of the disease or other autoimmune diseases.
You are more likely to develop Hashimoto's disease if you are living with another autoimmune disease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Some of these disorders and diseases include:
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Addison's disease
How serious is Hashimoto's disease?
We rely on our thyroid hormones for the function of so many of our bodily functions; including regulating our metabolism and energy expenditure. This is why when Hashimoto's disease goes untreated, it can lead to a whole host of complications including heart issues, sexual dysfunction, and mental health problems.
With early diagnosis, people with Hashimoto's disease can be treated. If you are experiencing symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis or you suspect you may be at risk, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider and check in on your thyroid function to avoid any complications.
The most reliable way to check your thyroid function and thyroid hormone levels is with a test - this can be done by taking a trip to your doctor’s office or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home Thyroid Function Tests are simple blood tests that measure key thyroid hormones and can help identify the presence of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism and thyroid dysfunction or damage. Your online results will be available within 5 days and our medical team will be available to speak with you about the next steps you should take.