- Underactive thyroid
- Overactive thyroid
- Key points about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- What Is Hypothyroidism?
- What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
- What Is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
- What Happens in Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
- How Are Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Diagnosed?
- How Are Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Treated?
- What Else Should I Know?
ABOUT CAUSES DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT
Thyroiditis is when your thyroid gland becomes irritated. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common type of this health problem. It is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your body makes antibodies that attack the cells in your thyroid.
The thyroid gland becomes overrun with white blood cells and becomes scarred. This makes the gland feel firm and rubbery. The thyroid then can’t make enough of the thyroid hormone. Many people with this problem have an underactive thyroid gland. That’s also known as hypothyroidism.
They have to take medicine to keep their thyroid hormone levels normal.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. Normally, your immune system protects your body by attacking bacteria and viruses. But with this disease, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland by mistake. Your thyroid then can’t make enough thyroid hormone, so your body can’t work as well.
Things that may make it more ly to you for to get Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are:
- Being a woman. Women are about 8 times more ly to have the disease. Hashimoto's thyroiditis sometimes begins during pregnancy. The condition may get better in some women during pregnancy. But then it returns after delivery.
- Being middle age. Most cases happen between ages 40 and 60. But it has been seen in younger people.
- Having a family member with the disease (heredity). The disease tends to run in families. But no gene has been found that carries it.
- Having other autoimmune diseases. These health problems raise a person’s risk. Some examples are rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Having this type of thyroiditis puts you at higher risk for other autoimmune illnesses.
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
This is an enlargement of your thyroid gland. It causes a bulge on your neck. It is not cancer. But it can cause problems such as pain or trouble with swallowing, breathing, or speaking.
When your thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, it can cause these symptoms:
- Muscle weakness and joint pain
- Weight gain
- Not being able to handle cold
- Hair and skin changes
When the thyroid is attacked by antibodies, it may at first make more thyroid hormone. This is called Hashitoxicosis. It does not happen to everyone. But it can cause these symptoms:
- Not being able to handle heat
- Fast heart rate
- Weight loss
These symptoms may look other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and give you a physical exam. You will also have blood tests. These can measure your thyroid hormone levels and check for some antibodies to proteins in the thyroid.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
You will not need treatment if your thyroid hormone levels are normal. But Hashimoto's thyroiditis can cause an underactive thyroid gland. If so, it can be treated with medicine. The medicine replaces lost thyroid hormone.
That should stop your symptoms. It can also ease a goiter if you have one. A goiter can cause problems such as pain or trouble swallowing, breathing, or speaking.
If these symptoms don’t get better, you may need surgery to remove the goiter.
Tell your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms.
Key points about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis can cause your thyroid to not make enough thyroid hormone.
- It is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your body makes antibodies that attack the cells in your thyroid.
- Symptoms may include an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), tiredness, weight gain, and muscle weakness.
- You don’t need treatment if your thyroid hormone levels are normal. If you have an underactive thyroid, medicine can help.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.
Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
The thyroid is a small gland below the skin and muscles at the front of the neck, at the spot where a bow tie would rest.
It's brownish red, with left and right halves (called lobes) that look a butterfly's wings. It weighs less than an ounce, but helps the body do many things, such as get energy from food, grow, and go through sexual development. In younger children, it is also important for brain development.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism (or underactive thyroid) is when the thyroid gland doesn't make enough of some important hormones. This makes the body use up energy more slowly, and chemical activity (metabolism) in the cells slows down.
Hypothyroidism is a common condition, especially in adult women. But kids can have it too. Some children are born with it — this is called congenital hypothyroidism. Others develop it later, usually late in childhood or as teens. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in kids and teens is the disease Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
A person with mild hypothyroidism may feel just fine. In fact, it might cause no symptoms at all.
But if thyroid hormone levels get too low, symptoms can become more obvious. These include:
- dry skin or hair loss
- feeling cold
- muscle weakness
- poor memory or trouble concentrating
- facial puffiness
- weight gain (even when not eating more or exercising less)
- slowed growth
- slow sexual development
- irregular menstrual periods in girls
What Is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto's thyroiditis (hah-she-MOE-toes thy-roy-DYE-tiss) is an autoimmune disease. It causes most cases of hypothyroidism in kids and teens. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is also called lymphocytic thyroiditis.
What Happens in Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an ongoing condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Often, this prevents the thyroid from making enough thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. The body responds by sending a message to the thyroid to work harder to make enough hormone.
This, and the swelling the immune system causes as it attacks the gland, can make the thyroid get bigger, leading to a goiter. The thyroid can keep changing size over months or years. Surgery is sometimes done to treat goiters, especially if the thyroid is big enough to cause problems with swallowing. But this is rarely needed in children.
How Are Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Diagnosed?
To diagnose hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, doctors ask about a person's symptoms, do an exam, and order blood tests. The tests measure:
- Thyroid hormone levels, particularly thyroxine (T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is a hormone made in the (a pea-sized gland just beneath the brain). More TSH is released into the blood when the brain and pituitary sense that the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood are too low. TSH stimulates the thyroid to work harder to make more thyroid hormone.
- Some antibodies (proteins made by the immune system). High levels of these antibodies in the blood are a sign that the gland is being attack by the immune system in Hashimoto's. The two antibodies commonly measured are thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO).
How Are Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Treated?
Doctors treat an underactive thyroid with daily thyroid hormone replacement pills. These will bring the body's levels of thyroid hormone back to normal.
This treatment is fairly simple, but a person will have doctor visits several times a year for an exam, blood tests, and medicine changes as needed.
What Else Should I Know?
In rare cases, the immune system of a child with Hashimoto's can cause in the brain and nervous system. Symptoms can include strange behavior, confusion, muscle twitching, and seizures.