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Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment

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22.03.2021

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is named after Hakaru Hashimoto, who first described it in 1912. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting a large percentage of the population, primarily women, which is the most common cause of decreased thyroid function with some following health consequences. In this disease, antibodies produced by the immune system recognize their own thyroid gland as a foreign body and attack to destroy it. As a result, the gland’s functioning is impaired, and thyroid hormone production is suppressed. Deficiency of thyroid hormones, known as hypothyroidism, leads to severe health consequences and several symptoms by which we can recognize the disease.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue and lack of energy, muscle weakness, and cramps;
  • Numbness of the limbs, intolerance to cold;
  • Memory problems, depression;
  • Weight gain, swelling of the face and eyes, fluid retention;
  • Disorders of the menstrual cycle in women;
  • Brittle nails, dry hair, and hair loss;
  • Problems with the cardiovascular system – slower heart rate;
  • Constipation.

In a small group of patients, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis initially leads to increased thyroid function instead of decreased. 3-5% of patients develop Bazeda’s disease, which comes with weight loss, oily skin, tremor, rapid pulse.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made based on clinical examination, ultrasound, and blood tests. In the disease, the thyroid gland has an altered volume – it has grown, which the doctor feels during palpation. It becomes nodular, dense, uneven, moves on swallowing.

If your endocrinologist notices these changes in the gland, you will get an ultrasound and tests for the thyroid hormones TSH, FT4, FT3, as well as tests for antibodies – TAT and MAT. TAT and MAT are the antibodies that prove the diagnosis, although there are about 5% of patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis who do not have those antibodies. Elevated TSH levels are a sign of hormone deficiency and hypothyroidism, and low values sign hyperthyroidism. Your doctor may find that you have antibodies and a corresponding appearance of the gland on ultrasound but that you have normal hormones. In this case, monitoring of the condition is required, and no treatment is necessary while the hormones are still normal.

Treatment

Treatment is required when the TSH, FT4, and FT3 hormones are outside the laboratory test’s specified reference range. When hypothyroidism is present, replacement therapy with levothyroxine is given. This not only compensates for the hormonal deficiency but also reduces the size of the gland. In hyperthyroidism, drugs suppressing the function of the gland are taken. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis itself is chronic, cannot be cured, nor can the TAT and MAT antibodies be affected. Often the disease follows its slow and progressive course and leads to atrophy of the thyroid gland, persistent hypothyroidism, and the need for daily hormone replacement therapy. Its timely application is essential for maintaining good health and proper functioning of many organs related to the thyroid gland and its work.

If you experience any of the thyroid disease symptoms, visit an endocrinologist at Medical Center “Hera” to get the necessary qualified help, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease.

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