Hashimoto's disease or Hashimoto's disease is inflammation that occurs in the thyroid gland . This disease occurs when the body's immune system (immune system) attacks thyroid cells and tissues. Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that regulate various body functions, including metabolism, muscle strength, and body temperature. When exposed to Hashimoto's disease, a person will experience a decrease in thyroid hormone levels.
Hashimoto's disease can be experienced by men and women of all ages, including children. However, this condition is more common in women, and usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50.
Causes of Hashimoto's Disease
Hashimoto's disease occurs when the body's immune system damages the thyroid gland. It is not known why the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. However, this condition is thought to be related to a viral or bacterial infection, genetic factors, or a combination of the three.
In addition, there are factors that are thought to increase a person's risk of developing Hashimoto's disease, namely:
- Have a family with thyroid disease or an autoimmune disease
- Have another autoimmune disease, such as Addison's disease, celiac disease, pernicious anemia , vitiligo, type 1 diabetes , lupus, or Sjögren's syndrome
- Female gender
- Between the ages of 30–50
- Have been exposed to radiation
- Excessive consumption of iodine
- Experiencing severe stress
Symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease
Hashimoto's disease develops slowly over many years to cause hypothyroidism , or a disorder caused by a lack of thyroid hormones. When people with Hashimoto's disease experience hypothyroidism, symptoms will appear in the form of:
- Tired and lethargic
- Pale and dry skin
- Nails become brittle
- Hair loss
- Sudden weight gain
- Weak muscles, feel sore, stiff, or sore when touched
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Enlarged tongue
- Slow heart rate
- Irregular menstruation or more blood ( menorrhagia )
- Sensitive to cold
- Easy to fall asleep
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
Hypothyroidism that lasts a long time can also trigger an enlargement of the thyroid gland so that the neck looks swollen. This swelling will make it difficult for sufferers to swallow and feel that their throat is full.
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above, especially if you experience facial swelling, pale skin, and fatigue that doesn't improve after resting.
You are also advised to consult a doctor if you have ever had thyroid surgery, radiotherapy, or treatment with radioactive iodine or antithyroid drugs.
If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease and are undergoing hormone therapy, be sure to check with your doctor according to the specified schedule. The goal is to monitor thyroid hormone levels so that complications can be prevented.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto's Disease
The doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms, then find out if the patient has had thyroid disease before or has a family member with thyroid disease. After that, the doctor will carry out a thorough physical examination, including examining the patient's neck and head.
To confirm the diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease, the doctor will ask the patient to undergo several supporting tests, such as:
- Hormone tests, to determine levels of the hormones T3, T4, and TSH, which are produced by the thyroid gland
- Antibody test , to detect the presence of antibodies that attack the thyroid gland
- Ultrasound of the neck , to check the size of the thyroid gland, and make sure there are no other causes of thyroid enlargement, such as thyroid nodules
Treatment of Hashimoto's Disease
Treatment for Hashimoto's disease aims to control the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. The method of treatment will be adjusted to the severity of the disease, including:
Observation aims to monitor the patient's condition from time to time. Observation is carried out if the patient only has mild hypothyroidism and the thyroid gland is still functioning normally.
If the patient has a deficiency of the hormone thyroxine, the doctor will give synthetic thyroid hormone. One of the drugs prescribed is levothyroxine .
Levothyroxine is useful for treating the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Dosage and duration of use will depend on thyroid hormone levels and the patient's condition. The doctor will adjust the dose by checking the TSH level 1-2 months after therapy.
Lifestyle changes also need to be made because there are some foods and medicines that can inhibit the absorption of levothyroxine. Patients need to tell their doctor if they are taking any of the following foods, medicines or supplements:
- Foods containing soybeans or high in fiber
- Iron supplement
- Calcium supplement
- Cholesterol lowering drugs, such as cholestyramine
- Aluminum hydroxide which is usually contained in antacids
- Stomach ulcer medications, such as sucralfate
If it is necessary to consume several types of food, drugs and supplements above, the doctor will recommend that the patient consume them 4 hours before or after taking levothyroxine.
Hashimoto's disease complications
If Hashimoto's disease is not treated immediately, the thyroid hormone deficiency experienced by the patient can cause health problems, such as:
- Heart problems, including heart failure
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- myxedema coma
Meanwhile, in pregnant women, Hashimoto's disease can increase the risk of babies being born with congenital abnormalities of the heart, brain and kidneys.
Prevention of Hashimoto's Disease
Hashimoto's disease is difficult to prevent. However, you can reduce your risk of developing this disease by regularly going to the doctor for checkups if you have a previous history of autoimmune disease or thyroid disease.
The risk of developing Hashimoto's disease can also be reduced by handling stress well, avoiding radiation exposure , and adopting a clean and healthy lifestyle to prevent infection.