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What is Hashimoto's disease?
Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease. This means that components of the human immune system, in this case lymphocytes, are involved in its formation. Under normal conditions, these immune cells protect the body against infections by neutralizing potential pathogens. However, in the course of autoimmune diseases, it occurs abnormal lymphocyte stimulation, as a result, their cells instead of pathogenic pathogens become normal body cells.
In the case of Hashimoto's disease, normal thyroid cells are destroyed, which causes it to develop chronic inflammation followed by gradual destruction of normal glandular parenchyma, which reduces the production of thyroid hormones and hypothyroidism.
Mostly it is diagnosed in people over 60 years of age, but also affects younger people, children and pregnant women. It often occurs in patients with autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, RA and celiac disease, which is why people suffering from these and other autoimmune disorders should be particularly sensitive to the onset of their symptoms.
How do you know it's Hashimoto's disease?
Although the course of Hashimoto's thyroiditis may vary widely among patients, its symptoms are associated with hypothyroidism - local and general - are relatively constant.
The most important initial local symptom of this disease isthe occurrence of a characteristic goiter.It arises due to the enlargement of the gland and can be felt with a hand around the neck, and when it reaches a larger size, it begins to be visible to the naked eye even to an untrained observer. Although it can also occur in connection with other thyroid disorders, it is Hashimoto's disease that is one of its most common causes. At a later stage of the disease, the thyroid gland may gradually decrease, and nodules may appear in its parenchyma (previously the smooth thyroid surface will become noticeably changed, uneven).
Hashimoto's inflammation may develop for several years, and the symptoms may appear gradually as the thyroid parenchyma continues to deplete. They are usually different in intensity, which depends mainly on the time the disease develops and on the degree of deficiency of the hormones produced by the thyroid.
Symptoms to look out for are:
- Gradual weight gain
- Constant tiredness, drowsiness,
- Feeling cold
- Memory and concentration disorders,
- Depressive symptoms,
- Dry, pale, flaky skin
- Dry hair prone to falling out,
- Menstrual disorders, fertility problems,
- Slow heart beat, higher than normal blood pressure.
It is worth remembering that the more the symptoms of the disease are expressed and the faster and more rapidly they grow, the more severe the disease is and you need to seek help as soon as possible.
Diagnosis and diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease
Diagnosis of the disease is carried out mainly on the basis of hormonal tests, the first of which is the TSH test (they can be ordered by a family doctor).
If the result is too high, the next step is determination of fT4 concentration, i.e. free thyroxine. When the result is below normal and the TSH value above, it indicates overt hypothyroidism, while in the case of elevated TSH and fT4 levels within the normal range, we are talking about subclinical hypothyroidism.
In the next stage, you need to diagnose the cause of this condition, in which it will be helpfulThyroid ultrasound (in Hashimoto's disease the thyroid gland may be reduced or enlarged and its echogenicity reduced) and the determination of thyroid antibodies in serum. A test for the determination of anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and anti-thyreoperoxidase antibodies, whose elevated titre is a characteristic feature of this disease, is performed.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis treatment
Unfortunately, there is currently no available causal treatment for Hashimoto's thyroiditis that would inhibit the destruction of the gland. Therefore, the therapy used in this disease is supplementation of thyroid hormone deficiency caused by destruction of the gland's cells and development of its hypothyroidism. For treatment is used preparations of levothyroxine - a synthetic hormone with the effect of thyroxine produced by the thyroid gland. Their dose is selected individually for each patient and usually such therapy is carried out on an outpatient basis. Initial hospital treatment may be necessary in patients with very advanced disease at the time it is detected or significant accompanying disease.
Due to the lack of available causal treatment methods, at present the treatment of the disease is based on hormonal supplementation taken by the patient for life. It should be hoped, however, that the progress of medicine that is constantly progressing will soon find a way to stop the development of Hashimoto's disease even before extensive destruction of the gland's cells and the development of hypothyroidism.