What is Hashimotos thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a disease of the thyroid gland. The thyroid produces two hormones, T3 and T4, which control metabolism of almost all the cells in the body. The pituitary gland secrets a hormone called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which increases thyroid gland hormone production. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs when inflammation caused by an autoimmune process destroys the thyroid gland, leading to an insufficient production of thyroid hormones. The disease is named after its discoverer, Hakaru Hashimoto. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common form of thyroiditis.


Statistics on Hashimotos thyroiditis

There are 3-5 cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis per 10,000 people every year. The number of diagnosed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis cases is increasing over time, mainly due to better diagnostic techniques and active searching among family members of known patients.

The female-to-male ratio is 20:1. The disease is most common in middle aged women, but it can affect all age groups, including children.

Risk Factors for Hashimotos thyroiditis

  • Positive family history of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or others autoimmune diseases.
  • High serum of IgG antibodies.

How is Hashimotos thyroiditis Diagnosed?

There is a (usually) painless, widespread and gradual enlargement of the thyroid gland, which can be noticed as an enlarged neck.

Rarely, it can be accompanied by shortness of breath (dyspnoea) or difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) due to the pressure of the growing goitre on the oesophagus and trachea. The gland is usually firm and rubbery to touch, but may range from soft to hard.

Thyroid hormone deficiency may not show any symptoms. However, if it does, common symptoms are:

Prognosis of Hashimotos thyroiditis

Most patients regain normal health with treatment.

How is Hashimotos thyroiditis Treated?

Hypothyroidism, which is a result of the destruction of the thyroid gland, can be treated with lifelong thyroid hormone replacement. Under hormone replacement therapy, the size of the goitre usually decreases. If it does not decrease, surgery may be required.

Hashimotos thyroiditis References

  1. Ballinger, A. Patchett, S., Saunders’ Pocket Essentials of Clinical Medicine 2nd ed. W.B. Saunders, 2000.
  2. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as retrieved from www.autoimmune.pathology.jhmi.edu on 16/12/2003
  3. Kumar P, Clark M. CLINICAL MEDICINE 5th Ed. WB Saunders 2002
  4. Longmore M, Wilkinson I, Torok E. OXFORD HANDBOOK OF CLINICAL MEDICINE. Oxford Universtiy Press. 2001
  5. Robbins, S.L., Cotran, R.S., Kumar, V. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease 5th ed. W.B. Saunders 1995.

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