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What is Hashimoto's Disease?

Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism. This condition can cause fatigue, weight gain, and mood swings. Understanding its intricacies can empower those affected to manage their symptoms effectively. How does this internal battle affect your daily life? Join us as we explore the impact of Hashimoto's on health and well-being.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder which leads to hypothyroidism, causing a variety of symptoms. When left untreated, the disease can be fatal, as the underactive thyroid leads to muscle weakness, which will eventually cause heart failure. It can also cause myxedema, a dangerous skin and tissue condition. Fortunately, many cases are caught long before this stage, and the condition is manageable, especially when caught early. Regular medical checkups are usually enough to ensure that the condition is caught early.

This disease is named after Doctor Hakaru Hashimoto, a Japanese physician who first described the condition in the early 1900s. In Hashimoto's Disease, the immune system registers the thyroid gland as an invader, and it starts to attack it. The thyroid becomes inflamed as a result, causing hormone production to decline, and leading to hypothyroidism. The condition also causes a goiter, a swelling of the neck created when the thyroid gland becomes enlarged.

Hashimoto's disease is caused by an underactive thyroid.
Hashimoto's disease is caused by an underactive thyroid.

Many cases of Hashimoto's Disease are caught in routine blood tests and regular physical exams, with the doctor noting that something is awry and recommending additional testing. In other instances, people come in with symptoms like abnormal weight gain, pale skin, hoarseness, muscle weakness, dry skin, joint pain, sensitivity to cold, and swollen faces, and the doctor tests for hypothyroidism.

If Hashimoto's disease goes untreated, it can lead to heart problems.
If Hashimoto's disease goes untreated, it can lead to heart problems.

Hashimoto's Disease has no cure, but it can be managed. To compensate for the decline in hormone production, patients take supplementary thyroid hormones. As the body grows accustomed to the hormones, the thyroid gland typically starts to shrink, since it is not being pressured to produce hormones, and the symptoms start to resolve. Treatment for the disease usually addresses the other symptoms, including muscle weakness, putting a stop to more serious complications before they arise.

Most cases of Hasimoto's Disease are discovered by a doctor during an exam of the thyroid.
Most cases of Hasimoto's Disease are discovered by a doctor during an exam of the thyroid.

Once diagnosed, managing Hashimoto's Disease is a life-long commitment because the body cannot produce the thyroid hormones it needs on its own. It may also require some lifestyle adjustments, as certain foods and medications interact poorly with thyroid medication. The condition is most common in women, especially women between 35 and 55 years of age, and it seems to be more common in the United States. Hashimoto's Disease is only one cause of hypothroidism, so it's important to pursue all medical avenues when treating cases of suspected hypothyroidism, to ensure that the treatment is appropriate.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

JavaGhoul

@hangugeo112

This kind of classification of other humans in terms of diseases and physical animal issues can have negative psychological effects on the medical community. Many med school students suffer from psychological issues due to recognizing the fatal physical nature of humanity and the fact that we are basically deteriorating as soon as we leave the womb.

hangugeo112

Various diseases are out there just waiting to be discovered and treated. If a physician is learned and can appropriately diagnose a new disease, it often gets named after him or her. Doctors often find their crowning achievement in recognizing new diseases which they know have not yet been classified, and are always on the lookout for new issues.

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    • Hashimoto's disease is caused by an underactive thyroid.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Hashimoto's disease is caused by an underactive thyroid.
    • If Hashimoto's disease goes untreated, it can lead to heart problems.
      By: forestpath
      If Hashimoto's disease goes untreated, it can lead to heart problems.
    • Most cases of Hasimoto's Disease are discovered by a doctor during an exam of the thyroid.
      By: Gabriel Blaj
      Most cases of Hasimoto's Disease are discovered by a doctor during an exam of the thyroid.
    • An underactive thyroid causes muscle weakness.
      By: p6m5
      An underactive thyroid causes muscle weakness.
    • The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating metabolism.
      By: lom123
      The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating metabolism.