is hypothyroidism an autoimmune disorder

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a chronic autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid.
  • It is believed that the pathology is due to an autoimmune reaction through which the body attacks thyroid cells.
  • Initially, the thyroid can function normally, be hypoactive (hypothyroidism) or, infrequently, overactive (hyperthyroidism).
  • Most subjects eventually develop hypothyroidism.
  • Usually, people with hypothyroidism feel tired and do not tolerate the cold.
  • Diagnosis is based on the results of the objective examination and blood tests.
  • Individuals with hypothyroidism should take thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives.

Thyroiditis indicates an inflammation of the thyroid. Inflammation of the thyroid can be caused by a viral infection or an autoimmune disease.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common type of thyroiditis and is the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism. For reasons not yet known, the organism attacks itself(autoimmune reaction). The thyroid is invaded by white blood cells and antibodies are created that attack the thyroid (antithyroid antibodies).

In about 50% of subjects with Hashimoto thyroiditis, the thyroid is initially underactive. In most of the remaining 50%, the thyroid normally works at the beginning (although in a small number of subjects, the gland initially becomes overactive) and later becomes underactive.

Some people with Hashimoto thyroiditis have other endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, hypoactive adrenal glands or hypoactive parathyroids, and other autoimmune diseases, such as pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren syndrome or systemic erythematous lupus (lupus).

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is more common among women, especially older women, and tends to occur in different subjects in the same family. It arises more frequently in people with chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Klinefelter syndrome.

Symptoms

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often manifests itself with asymptomatic enlargement of the thyroid or a feeling of fullness of the neck. The gland usually has a chewy texture and sometimes has a nodular appearance. If the thyroid is underactive, subjects may experience fatigue and intolerance to cold and present other symptoms of hypothyroidism. The few subjects with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may initially have palpitations, nervousness, and heat intolerance.

is hypothyroidism an autoimmune disorder

Diagnosis

  • Examinations of thyroid function

Levels of thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and the thyrostimulating hormone (TSH, a hormone produced by the pituitary to stimulate the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones) in the blood are measured to establish the degree of thyroid function(thyroid function tests). However, the diagnosis is based on the objective examination and the results of blood tests to determine whether the subject has antithyroid antibodies.

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Treatment

  • Limitation of iodine intake
  • Sometimes replacement thyroid hormone

There is no specific treatment for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Most subjects eventually develop hypothyroidism and therefore have to take replacement therapy with thyroid hormones for the rest of their lives. Hormone therapy is also useful for reducing the size of an enlarged thyroid.

Individuals with Hashimoto thyroiditis who do not take replacement thyroid hormones should avoid excessive intake of iodine (which can cause hypothyroidism) from natural sources, such as algae and algae-based tablets.