WHAT IS AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS DISEASE?
Autoimmune thyroiditis Definition: Autoimmune thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto- thyroiditis, is a chronic thyroid gland inflammation, in which the immune system turns against the body’s own thyroid tissue. It is therefore counted among the autoimmune diseases and is the most frequent cause of disturbance in thyroid function.
In autoimmune diseases, there is an error of the immune system, whereby some of the body cells are suddenly regarded as foreign. To combat the supposed foreign bodies, lymphocytes – a kind of white blood cells – are used, which falsely form weapons against the body’s own tissue, so-called autoantibodies. In the case of autoimmune thyroiditis, it is the autoantibodies TPO-AK and Tg-AK. An inflammatory process is initiated, which destroys thyroid gland tissue and produces less and less thyroid hormone.
WHAT CAUSES AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS?
Autoimmune thyroiditis Causes: How the autoimmune thyroiditis originates, is yet unclear. It is thought that a previous bacterial or viral infection can act as a trigger. On the other hand, however, there is also a familial accumulation. Women are significantly more affected than men, preferably between the ages of 30 and 50. What is striking is that the disease is often associated with other autoimmune diseases, such as white spot disease (vitiligo) or type 1 diabetes.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS?
Autoimmune thyroiditis Symptoms: The disease begins almost imperceptibly and painlessly, so the affected persons hardly notice the symptoms at first. In the beginning, some patients suffer from a short-term phase of thyroid hyperfunction, caused by the destruction of the hormone store, which then gradually leads to a chronic subfunction. Symptoms of overuse are:
- Increased sweating
- hair loss
- Weight loss despite increased appetite
- Trembling hands
- Fast, irregular pulse
- Cycle disorders in women
The symptoms of over-function are relieved by the signs of under-function when less and less thyroid hormone is produced in the course of autoimmune disease:
- lack of concentration
- Shaggy, shiny hair
- Easy freezing
- hair loss
- Dry, cool, doughy skin
- Cycle disorders in women
HOW IS THE AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS DIAGNOSED?
Autoimmune Thyroiditis Diagnosis: Since the disease often occurs in women around 50, the symptoms can easily be mistaken for menopausal symptoms and thereby be misunderstood. In most cases, a shrinkage of the thyroid gland (atrophic form) is observed, but an increase in the thyroid gland (hypertrophic form) is rarely observed despite the loss of function.
If the symptoms lead to the doctor, the prehistory and the tactile findings of the thyroid gland have the direction, pioneering in diagnostics but are blood tests and ultrasound examination. In the blood test, the typical TPO antibodies are found in more than 90 percent of those affected, and the Tg antibodies in 70 to 80 percent.
The indicator of a subfunction is an increased value for TSH (thyroidea stimulating hormone) – a hormone of the pituitary gland – even if the thyroid hormone levels are still within the norm. In the ultrasound examination, typical changes in autoimmune thyroiditis are apparent. Only occasionally other studies such as scintigraphy or the removal of a tissue sample are necessary to exclude other diseases.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS?
Autoimmune Thyroiditis Disease Treatment: The autoimmune thyroiditis is unfortunately not yet curable. However, normalization of the hormonal balance can be achieved with the therapy. For this, the lifelong replacement of the missing thyroid hormone is necessary. Levothyroxine is first prescribed in low doses, then increased until the appropriate quantity is reached. This is shown by the normalization of the TSH level (possibly by 1 μU / ml), which is controlled by regular blood tests.
It is of utmost importance that therapy is used during pregnancy to prevent physical and mental damage to the unborn child. The intake of the trace element iodine should be avoided since it fires the autoimmune process further. According to studies, however, selenium has a positive influence on the well-being and the level of antibody levels.
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