Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a chronic (ongoing) condition where the body's immune
system attacks the thyroid, a gland in the neck that makes thyroid hormone.
More to Know
The thyroid hormone helps the body handle many chemical reactions, controls how
the body converts food into energy, and helps direct growth
and sexual development.
In someone with Hashimoto's, often the thyroid must work harder to make thyroid
hormone. This, and the inflammation that occurs in the gland, can cause the thyroid
to swell, resulting in a goiter.
In some cases, the thyroid can't produce enough thyroid hormone. This is called
hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include sluggishness, dry skin, feeling
cold, constipation, facial puffiness, weight gain, and slowing of growth and sexual
In rare cases, the immune system of someone with Hashimoto's thyroiditis can cause
inflammation in the brain
and nervous system. Symptoms can include strange behavior, confusion, muscle twitching,
Keep in Mind
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is usually diagnosed by blood tests measuring the levels
of thyroid hormone and the presence of antibodies. Hashimoto's is a chronic disorder,
although the size of the thyroid and its ability to make thyroid hormone can increase
or decrease over months and years.
Treatment depends on symptoms and the results of lab tests. Hypothyroidism and
goiters are usually treated with synthetic thyroid hormone taken in pill form. The
treatment and dose of medication is guided by regular periodic blood tests and doctor
visits. Surgery is sometimes done to treat goiters, especially if the thyroid becomes
large enough to cause problems with swallowing.
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