What Is Hashimoto's Disease?


Quick Answer

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder where the thyroid is attacked by the immune system, states the National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service. The thyroid becomes inflamed and is unable to produce hormones normally, sometimes causing the development of hypothyroidism due to large numbers of white blood cells that collect within the thyroid gland.

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What Is Hashimoto's Disease?
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Full Answer

A goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland, sometimes occurs in Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and women between the ages 30 and 50 are more likely than others to be diagnosed with the disease, states NEMDIS.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis develops slowly over several years, according to Mayo Clinic, and the symptoms can be quite subtle. Symptoms of the disease are very similar to those of hypothyroidism, including fatigue, weight gain, cold sensitivity, menorrhagia, constipation and dry skin. Hashimoto's is the most common type of hypothyroidism, notes NEMDIS, and doctor's aren't sure what causes it or why the immune system decides to attack the thyroid gland.

Since Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease, this diagnosis puts an individual at a higher risk of contracting other autoimmune diseases, such as Graves' disease, rheumatoid arthritis and pernicious anemia, states EndocrineWeb. A diagnosis of Hashimoto's also increases the risk of a patient developing thyroid cancer or thyroid lymphoma, which, if caught early in the disease, is curable.

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