Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies destroy thyroid tissue and cause hypothyroidism (a low amount of thyroid hormone). The thyroid is a gland that is located in the front of the neck and controls metabolism. Autoimmune diseases are diseases where the body attacks its own tissue because it thinks that it is an invader. In type I diabetes (another autoimmune disease) the body attacks the pancreas, and in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the body attacks the thyroid. Antibodies are immune system proteins that attack foreign invaders. In Hashimoto’s Disease, the immune system thinks that the thyroid itself is an invader to the body. Thyroid hormones are important for regulating metabolic processes, and if it is low, the patient suffers from symptoms including but not limited to fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, and irregular heart rhythms.
It is not known exactly how one ends up getting Hashimoto’s Disease. It is believed to be genetic with women suffering approximately 5 times more than men. There are certain genes that are passed down from generation to generation that are believed to be implicated in causing the disease. If someone in your family is suffering from hypothyroidism it is worth getting tested. Other environmental factors such as a high iodine intake are possible causes.
The most common treatment for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is treatment with levothyroxine, a synthetic (synthesized in a lab) form of the thyroid hormone. This drug makes up for the thyroid’s inability to produce enough hormone as it is being actively destroyed. New research has found that treating Hashimoto’s patients with vitamin D has helped to alleviate some of the damage caused by the antibodies that destroy thyroid tissue. Patients who take both report alleviation in symptoms.
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