Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid, a hormone-secreting endocrine gland located at the base of the neck. The condition is also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.
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The most frequent result of Hashimoto's disease is hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive. If the hypothyroidism isn't treated, complications like goitre (enlarged thyroid), heart disease and poor mental health may develop.
There are no distinctive symptoms associated with Hashimoto's disease. However, signs may include abnormal menstruation, aching, stiff, tender or weak muscles, cold sensitivity, constipation, depression, fatigue, high blood cholesterol, hoarseness, joint pain and weight gain due to fluid accumulation.
Researchers have not identified the cause of Hashimoto's disease, although hypothetical triggers include a bacterium, genetic defect or virus. Age, gender and heredity may also combine to increase the risk of developing the condition.
When Hashimoto's disease leads to an insufficient supply of thyroid hormone, treatment most often involves thyroid hormone replacement therapy using the manmade hormone levothyroxine.
Hashimoto's disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that usually progresses gradually over the years. Once it is identified and treatment has started, patients should maintain their medication regimen to prevent symptoms from returning.
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