What is hashimoto's thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
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Hashimoto's thyroiditis: Overview

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a problem with the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, which is in your neck, controls the way your body uses energy. Sometimes the disease causes the gland to make too much thyroid hormone (thyrotoxicosis). This can make you feel nervous, lose weight, and have many loose bowel movements. You may also have a fast heartbeat.

But as the disease progresses, the gland usually does not make enough thyroid hormone. This can cause you to feel tired and have dry skin and thinning hair. Most people with Hashimoto's are diagnosed when they have these symptoms.

You may need to take medicine if you have symptoms or if your thyroid hormone level is not normal. Most people with Hashimoto's thyroiditis need to take medicine for the rest of their lives.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a condition that can cause an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). It is also called Hashimoto's disease or chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. Hashimoto's thyroiditis develops when the body's natural defense system (immune system) makes antibodies that attack and over time destroy the thyroid gland.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common form of autoimmune thyroid disease. It occurs most often in women and older adults. The disease usually does not cause any pain and often goes unnoticed for years.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is linked with other conditions, including type 1 diabetes, Addison's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia, and premature menopause.

Treatment may be needed if symptoms of low thyroid production (hypothyroidism) occur or if the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and enlarged. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland include fatigue, thinning hair, dry skin, and brittle nails. If the disease does not cause these problems, treatment may not be needed.

How can you care for Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have a very slow heartbeat (less than 60 beats a minute).
  • You have a low body temperature (95°F or below).

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You gain weight even though you are eating normally or less than usual.
  • You feel extremely weak or tired.
  • You have new changes in your skin, nails, or hair, or the changes get worse.
  • You notice that your thyroid gland has grown or changed in size.
  • You have constipation that is new or that gets worse.
  • You cannot stand cold temperatures.
  • You have heavy or irregular menstrual periods.
  • You have other new symptoms.

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