What Is Hashimoto Thyroiditis? Experts Explain Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Of This Autoimmune Disease


Hashimoto Thyroiditis is a complex autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland because it thinks it poses a threat.


Hashimoto Thyroiditis

Diseases can be due to internal dysfunction or external aggression. Internal dysfunctions when associated with the immune system going awry, where it attacks its body tissues is called an auto-immune disease. Such an attack when directed towards certain cells of the thyroid, leads to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Also called autoimmune thyroiditis, it is named after Dr Hakaru Hashimoto, who first described this condition. 



What Is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?

Dr Sanjay Agarwal, Head of Department- Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolic Diseases, at Sahyadri Super Speciality Hospital, nagar Road, pune says, "Hashimoto Thyroiditis is a complex autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland because it thinks it poses a threat. This persistent inflammation leads to the slow loss of thyroid tissue, reducing its ability to generate important hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)."


Thyroid hormones are essential for controlling energy levels, metabolism, and other physiological processes. As Hashimoto's disease worsens, hypothyroidism—an underactive thyroid condition—often develops, which can lead to a variety of systemic symptoms," he adds.


Causes Of Hashimoto Thyroiditis:


Talking about the causes, Dr Sanjay Agarwal says that a hereditary predisposition and some environmental variables are believed to play a role.


He says, "Certain signs linked to an elevated risk have been found through family history of autoimmune diseases or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and viral infections and hormonal fluctuations could be potential triggers."

"The body's immune system produces antibodies against particular components of the thyroid cells, which leads to the destruction of the thyroid cells. These antibodies are usually triggered by stress (both physical and mental) or can be genetically transmitted. Smoking is also a major risk factor for autoimmune thyroiditis," adds Dr. archana Juneja, Consultant and endocrinologist at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Mumbai.


Symptoms Of Hashimoto Thyroiditis:


Since this condition leads to hypothyroidism, symptoms are all those of a hypothyroid state.


Dr. Rajesh Jaria, who is a Consultant Internal Medicine at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MCR, Khar says, "Thyroid hormone is a speed-up agent. Its absence will lead to symptoms of slowing such as slow heart rate, forgetfulness, weight gain, early fatigue, joint pains, muscle aches, face swelling, constipation, feeling too cold when others are feeling normal, hair thinning, and brittle hair. Irregular or heavy menses, & depression. It is diagnosed by doing a test for thyroid hormone levels and antibody levels."


Diagnosis Of Hashimoto Thyroiditis:


A mix of imaging scans, blood testing, and clinical evaluations are used to diagnose Hashimoto's disease. Here are a few diagnostic tests mentioned  by Dr Sanjay Agarwal:


Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4)

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)

Antibodies (anti-TPO and anti-TG)

Increased antibody levels signify an autoimmune reaction directed towards the thyroid.

Thyroid gland structural alterations may be seen with imaging tests like ultrasonography.

What Can It Lead To If Untreated?


Hashimoto's Thyroid leads to hypothyroidism and its associated symptoms as listed above.


Dr. Rajesh Jaria says, "If untreated, these symptoms may worsen, causing a patient to lead a lethargic and miserable life, with high cholesterol, heart disease, and heart failure being possible outcomes. Facial droop, gait instability, low heart rate, high fat in blood, and clinical depression are all possible sequelae."


To this, Dr Sanjay Agarwal adds, "Severe occurrences may result in myxedema, a potentially fatal illness characterized by symptoms like acute exhaustion and unconsciousness. Effective management of Hashimoto's disease and the avoidance of these possible consequences depend on early detection and adequate treatment, which frequently include thyroid hormone replacement therapy."

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