The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in the front lower part of the neck that is shaped like a butterfly. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, which affects every organ of the body.
There are many causes of inflammation of the thyroid gland, or thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (or Hashimoto’s disease), which is also called lymphocytic thyroiditis, is the most common cause of underactive thyroid in the United States. This autoimmune disorder tends to be hereditary, and involves long-term inflammation of the thyroid gland, which eventually leads to a decrease in thyroid function known as hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid.
Hashimoto’s is much more common in women than men, and it develops more often in women ages 30 to 50, although it can be diagnosed in people of any age. It is also more common in people with other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus (among others).
Early in the disease, Hashimoto’s may have no apparent symptoms, but as the antibodies attack and destroy the thyroid gland, most people will develop hypothyroidism, which has symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, irregular and/or heavy menstruation, depression, constipation, dry skin, dry and/or thinning hair, and joint and/or muscle aches. The thyroid may also become swollen, causing a goiter, or bulge in the front of the neck. Eventually the disease process of Hashimoto’s actually causes the thyroid gland to shrink.
Hashimoto’s is diagnosed through blood tests that look for TPO (a type of thyroid antibody) that is present in most people with the disease. Thyroid function is also evaluated through blood tests that look at three thyroid hormones: T3, T4, and TSH.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis itself cannot be treated, so the treatment for this disease usually occurs once the person has reached a level of hypothyroidism that requires medication. Mild hypothyroidism may be monitored without needing medication. When medication is needed, synthetic levothyroxine (a thyroid hormone replacement) is inexpensive and very effective at restoring normal thyroid hormone levels. Most patients with Hashimoto’s will need to take this medication for life.
Bio-Touch is a powerful complementary method that can be used to help support the body while it is undergoing treatment for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s disease.