Understanding Hashimoto's Disease

The first disease classified under auto immune diseases, Hashimoto's disease, named after Hashimoto Hakaru, is a condition where the thyroid gland gets inflamed. It is a type of auto immune disease that affects the thyroid and causes it to have hypothyroidism.

This specific auto immune disease is a condition of the body where the thyroid is targeted as a foreign tissue. Thus, it gets inflamed and it does not function properly. In the U.S., Hashimoto's disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism.

Also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, this auto immune disease affects the thyroid gland and hampers the production of the thyroid hormone that controls metabolism, regulation of the body's energy use, and the production of proteins in the body.

The antibodies that target the thyroid gland gradually destroys it and eventually leads to the most common problem that the thyroid experiences; hypothyroidism (lack of thyroid hormones produced) and at times, even bursts of hyperthyroidism (overproduction of the thyroid hormone). This disease causes hormonal imbalance that affects processes of the body connected to growth and maturation.

Recognize the Symptoms

The symptoms of Hashimoto's disease are very similar to those encountered by individuals who are affected by hypothyroidism. Since the disease causes the hypothyroidism itself, its presence is felt when symptoms of hypothyroidism are already present.

Some of these symptoms are:
  • Weight gain due to lack of regulation in the metabolism
  • Indigestion and constipation
  • Brittle hair that could eventually lead to more hair falling out
  • Tiredness and increased feelings of sleepiness

What Causes Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's disease has a tendency to be common among family members. It is more common in women especially after pregnancy. Although genetics plays a role on whether a person is more likely to get the disease or not, there are environmental factors that may lead to the development of Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

One such environmental factor is an excessive intake of iodine-rich foods. Exposure to second-hand smoke can also be a factor that heightens the risk of getting Hashimoto's disease especially those who are genetically predisposed to it already.

A blood workout can help individuals discover or confirm if they have Hashimoto's disease. The level of antibodies that target the thyroid gland will be tested in the blood and this will help diagnose the presence of Hashimoto's disease.

Once diagnosed, treatment is quite simple. Hormone replacements will be given and this will help make the function of the thyroid go back to normal and produce the right amount of thyroid hormone.

(Posted by Dr. Marc Ott at http://ezinearticles.com/?Understanding-Hashimotos-Disease&id=6926040)