Hashimoto’s disease, also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease. What this means is that the body’s immune system treats one of its own organs as a foreign agent and then acts against it. As the name suggests, in the case of Hashimoto’s disease, this organ is the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is particularly important in the body since it releases hormones that are responsible for a wide variety of functions in the body. The entire metabolic rate of the body is set by the level of these glands and a fluctuation in these hormones is something that directly affects the quality of life.
Affected individuals will face some common symptoms like:
- Weight gain
- Cold, clammy skin
- Loss of hair
- Low sex drive
- Low fertility
- Decreased heart rate
- Muscular pain
What Causes Hashimoto's Disease?
While the exact triggers that lead to Hashimoto's Disease in individual patients are unclear, there are certain things and events that are commonly associated with the development of Hashimoto’s disease.
- Viral infection
- Bacterial infection
- High dose radiation exposure
- Hormonal disturbances
- Genetic predisposition
- Excessive amount of iodine in the body
Once the patient has been diagnosed with a case of Hashimoto’s disease, the doctor will begin treatment immediately. Luckily, the treatment is pretty straightforward in most cases and just involves the intake of thyroid replacement hormones in the long term (usually lifelong).
This will resolve all of the symptoms that had appeared without the need for any other intervention. Sometimes though, the body develops a growth called goiter, where the thyroid gland increases in size in an effort to increase the amount of hormones being produced. This is quite unsightly and present on the neck in an extremely visible position. If this size does not reduce even after long-term medication use, then the removal of the thyroid gland may be necessary.
How Soon Do The Symptoms Start Reversing?
This is one of the most common questions that patients ask. The time frame for when the symptoms start to reverse is variable from individual to individual, however the process usually takes a couple of months.
This may seem like a long time, but it is due to the fact that thyroid hormones are extremely slow acting in nature. A lot of people are anxious to see results after a few weeks and can thus get worried that the treatment is not working as it should, but there is no need to be concerned; you simply need to be patient for a little while longer.
The long term prognosis for the disease is favorable in the sense that it is easily manageable. The patient has to be regular with their medication as well as follow ups with the doctor. There may be some change in medication that may be necessary down the line.
A periodic diagnostic test measuring thyroid stimulating hormone may also be advised by the doctor. This helps in ascertaining the overall control of the hormone levels and helps in fine tuning the treatment plan.
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