Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) is also known as Hashimoto's disease or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. HT is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have HT, your underactive thyroid gland can take you down an unpleasant path.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition. An antibody that attacks the thyroid gland is produced, which can cause inflammation and hypothyroidism (decreased thyroid function).
Your hair might be dry, your mood irritable and anxious, your concentration poor, and your energy level depleted.
When the thyroid produces an inadequate supply of hormones, it may become enlarged. This is known as goiter. A large goiter can be quite noticeable in your neck and can make breathing and swallowing difficult.
Depression, reduced cognitive capabilities and decreased libido may accompany HT. Hashimoto's thyroiditis may also be linked with heart disease risk. Progression of HT can leave you with an enlarged heart and can even lead to heart failure.
Untreated Hashimoto's thyroiditis can result in myxedema, a rare but potentially lethal condition typified by intolerance of cold temperatures, drowsiness, lethargy and loss of consciousness which can come full-stop at coma. Myxedema can occur from taking sedatives, infection and other stressors. Immediate medical intervention is essential.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. Middle-aged women are most likely to get Hashimoto's thyroiditis though HT can affect men, women and children.
Pregnant women with untreated HT may have greater risk of birth defects in their babies. These defects can take the form of abnormalities developmentally and intellectually. Physically, a baby can have a cleft palate and brain, heart or kidney abnormalities.
Your health care practitioner can test levels of hormones from your thyroid and pituitary glands. A blood test looking for abnormal antibodies that are produced in an autoimmune condition can also be taken.
Your doctor will usually treat HT with thyroid hormone replacement.