The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and located in the front of the neck. It makes hormones that control metabolism. Hashimoto thyroiditis (HT) is caused by a problem with the immune system.
The body makes antibodies to fight germs. In HT, the body makes antibodies that attack the thyroid. This leads to inflammation and damage of the thyroid. It is not clear why the body begins to make this type of antibody.
HT is more common in women than in men. It often appears between the ages of 30 and 50.
Symptoms may not be present during early stages of HT. When symptoms are present, they begin with enlargement of the thyroid gland. The front of the neck may look swollen. This enlargement of the gland is called a goiter.
Other symptoms may include:
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) symptoms:
Difficulty tolerating cold temperatures
A hoarse throat
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) symptoms:
Rapid heart beat
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your body’s fluids will be tested. This can be done with:
Blood tests to check for anti-thyroid antibodies and thyroid function
Biopsy and testing of thyroid nodules that concern your doctor
Imaging tests may be done if you have a nodule or goiter. These may include:
Hashimoto’s disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hashimotos-disease. Accessed March 17, 2020.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (lymphocytic thyroiditis). American Thyroid Association website. Available at: https://www.thyroid.org/hashimotos-thyroiditis/. Accessed March 17, 2020.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis overview. EndocrineWeb website. Available at: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hashimotos-thyroiditis/hashimotos-thyroiditis-overview. Accessed March 17, 2020.
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