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Thyroiditis

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What is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is a type of autoimmune thyroid disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. The thyroid helps set the rate of metabolism - the rate at which the body uses energy. Hashimoto’s prevents the gland from producing enough thyroid hormones for the body to work correctly. It is the most common form of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

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What is an autoimmune disease?

An autoimmune disease occurs when the body's immune system becomes misdirected and attacks the organs, cells or tissues that it was designed to protect. About 75% of autoimmune diseases occur in women, most frequently during their childbearing years.

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What are the symptoms of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

Some patients with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis may have no symptoms. However, the common symptoms are fatigue, depression, and sensitivity to cold, weight gain, muscle weakness, coarsening of the skin, dry or brittle hair, constipation, muscle cramps, increased menstrual flow, and goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland).

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Is this disease hereditary?

There is some evidence that Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can have a hereditary link. If autoimmune diseases run in your family, you are at a higher risk of developing one yourself.

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How can I know for sure if I have this disease?

Your doctor will perform a simple blood test that will be able to tell if your body has the correct amount of thyroid hormones. This test measures the blood TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to determine if the thyroid hormone levels are in the normal range. The range is set by your doctor and should be discussed with you. Work with your doctor to find what level is right for you.

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What is the treatment for this disease?

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis can usually be treated with thyroid hormone replacement. A small pill taken once a day should be able to regulate the thyroid hormone in the body to normal levels. This medication will, in most cases, need to be taken for the rest of the patient's life. When trying to determine the correct hormone dosage, you may have to return to your doctor several times for adjustments in medication. A yearly visit to your health care provider will help keep your levels normal and help maintain normal health. Be aware of the symptoms. If you note any changes or the return of symptoms, return to your doctor to see if you need to have your medication changed.

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What would happen without medication to regulate my thyroid function?

If left untreated, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis can cause further complications, including changes in menstrual cycles, prevention of ovulation, and an increased risk of miscarriage. It is also important to know that too much thyroid replacement hormone can mimic the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. This is a condition that occurs from overproduction of thyroid hormones. These symptoms include insomnia, irritability, weight loss without dieting, heat sensitivity, increased perspiration, thinning of your skin, fine or brittle hair, muscular weakness, eye changes, lighter menstrual flow, rapid heart beat and hand tremors.

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For More Information . . .

National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive Diseases and Kidney Diseases

Thyroid Foundation of America

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Thyroiditis