What is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
At first, what is Thyroiditis?
Thyroiditis is inflammation (swelling) of the thyroid gland. It is caused by either unusually high or low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. The thyroid gland lies at the front of the throat, below the larynx (Adam`s apple). It is made up of two lobes that sit on either side of the trachea (windpipe). The thyroid gland makes chemicals called hormones that regulate many metabolic processes, including growth and the rate at which your body burns up energy. Hypothyroidism means the thyroid gland is sluggish or underactive
And what exactly is Hashimoto Thyroiditis disease?
Hashimoto thyroiditis is caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland, making it swell and become damaged. It is autoimmune disease – a disaster in which the immune system turns against the body`s own tissues.
As the thyroid is destroyed over time, it becomes unable to produce enough thyroid hormone. This leads to symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) such as tiredness and dry skin.
As an autoimmune disease means the immune system attacks the thyroid. This can lead to hypothyroidism – a condition that the thyroid does not make enough hormones for our body needs.
Located in the front of your neck, the thyroid gland creates hormones that control metabolism. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism, growth, temperature, and energy, so it is incredibly important to keep thyroid hormones in balance. This is includes your heart rate and how quickly your body uses calories from the foods you eat.
When you have Hashimoto`s thyroiditis, your immune cells mistakenly attack your healthy thyroid tissue. When this occurs, your thyroid can become inflamed and enlarged to the point that you develop a goiter.
The most common and easily recognized symptoms of Hashimoto are goiters, fatigue, weight gain, and constipation.
The primary sign of a goiter is visible swelling in the front of your neck. At first, the bulge may be painless. But if left untreated, it can put pressure on your lower neck. In advanced stages, a goiter can interfere with proper breathing and swallowing.
If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, your doctor or nurse will do an exam and order one or more tests. Tests used to find out whether you have hypothyroidism and Hashimoto`s disease include:
- Thyroid function test. This blood test tells whether your body has the right amounts of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormone. A high level of TSH is a sign of an underactive thyroid. When the thyroid begins to fail, the pituitary gland makes more TSH to trigger the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. When the damaged thyroid can no longer keep up, your thyroid hormone levels drop below normal.
- Antibody test. This blood test tells whether you have the antibodies that suggest Hashimoto`s disease. More than one in 10 people have the antibodies but have normal thyroid function. Having only the antibodies does not cause hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto`s disease is treated with a daily dose of levothyroxine. This is the same hormone that your thyroid gland makes. The patient with Hashimoto`s thyroiditis disease will probably need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of their life. Talk to your doctor about any further concerns.
You may have to see your doctor a few times to test the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your body. Thyroid hormone acts very slowly in the body, so it can take several months after the start of treatment for symptoms to go away.
The same treatment dose usually works for many years. But your TSH levels may change sometimes, especially during pregnancy, if you have heart disease or if you take menopausal hormone therapy. Your doctor may need to adjust your dose.
A diet optimizing the nutrients is vital to an overall recovery plan. The top nutrients are iodine, selenium and zinc. They are specific nutrients you should regularly take to maintain your healthy and functional thyroid.
Try to avoid eating any food within 1 or 2 hours of taking your thyroid medication, since it will affect how your medication is absorbed in your body. Always discuss the best diet strategy and medication with your doctor.