Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an inflammatory disease of the thyroid gland. It is a disease first described in 1912 by the Japanese physician Hakaru Hashimoto, from whom it’s named. In 1957 it was recognized as an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, gradually leading to its destruction.
The onset of this attack is triggered by the production of autoantibodies (Anti-TG, Anti-TPO and Anti TSH-R), which are directed against the autoantigens (thyroglobulin, thyroid peroxidase, thyroid receptor hormone) of the thyroid gland.
The harmful consequences of this attack are that the thyroid gland is flooded with T and B lymphocytes, which contribute to its swelling, gradually creating a goiter. This goiter occurs gradually, is characterized by an irregular surface and its composition is semi-hard. Furthermore, the autoantibodies that are produced alter the thyroid gland, whose normal architecture is greatly affected. In this way, hypothyroidism is caused.
Hashimoto’s disease is one of the most common diseases of the thyroid gland that develops slowly, resulting in chronic damage to the thyroid gland, without being necessarily perceived by the patient. It mainly affects women, who are affected 3 to 5 times more often than men. It is estimated that at the age of 20 10–15% of women develop Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and after the age of 55 this percentage rises to 30–33%.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis face issues which are related to their body weight. In patients with hypothyroidism, the rate of metabolism decreases, resulting in weight gain. Also, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis manifests by a variety of symptoms, which are characteristic of those of Hypothyroidism. These symptoms include:
- fatigue and drowsiness
- decreased memory and mental clarity
- dry skin, brittle nails and hair loss
- chills, dizziness, choking and edematous face
- muscle and joint pain
- constipation and fluid retention
- melancholy and irritability
- bradycardia or tachycardia
- high cholesterol
- menstrual disorders, infertility and frequent miscarriages
Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a disease of multiple etiologies, the occurrence of which involves genetic, hormonal and adverse epigenetic factors, such as environmental toxins and chronic stress, which do not contribute to the proper biochemistry of the body and have been considered to promote autoimmunity.
People with a positive family history of the disease are at increased risk of developing autoimmune thyroiditis. The imbalance of the hormonal system also affects the overall metabolic state of the body. It is no coincidence, after all, that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis mainly affects women, due to the multiple hormonal changes that occur during their lifetime, for example during menopause, pregnancy or menopause. The use of certain medications and various infections have also been implicated in the development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in genetically predisposed individuals.
An inflammatory diet and the consumption of increased amounts of processed carbohydrates and sugar contribute to the creation of chronic inflammation and deregulate our immune system. In particular, the intake of increased amounts of sugar results in the secretion by the body of increasing amounts of insulin, which contributes greatly to the suppression of thyroid function.
In the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the increased intake of foods high in iodine is an additional aggravating factor that contributes to the onset of the disease. Foods rich in iodine include dairy and seafood.
The association of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with other medical conditions
It is worth noting that if one suffers from other autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, the risk of developing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is increased. In general, the autoimmune diseases which are most commonly associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include Celiac Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Vitiligo, Addison’s Disease and Alopecia areata. Furthermore, numerous studies have documented the association of the disease with conditions such as Sjögren’s Syndrome and Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Hypothyroidism which is caused by Hashimoto’s disease needs to be treated immediately, as if left untreated, it can lead to a host of health problems. For example, the constant pressure that is exerted on the thyroid gland so as to produce more hormones may cause obvious swelling, with consequent problems swallowing and breathing.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Usually, doctors are limited to the continuous administration of synthetic thyroid hormones. In clinical practice, however, patients take lifelong medications, resulting in further burden on their psychology, while they do not see the expected results, as their health levels are not restored.
The key to successfully treating Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is finding and treating the real causes of the disease. By Biochemical, Hormonal or Specialized Metabolic tests, malfunctions and deficiencies in the body at the cellular level are identified.
The Modern Medical Treatment of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Based on the diagnostic findings, the appropriate treatment protocols are formulated, which may include Micro and Macro Nutrient Therapies, Molecular Nutrition, Hormone Rehabilitation Therapies with Natural (Biomimetic) Hormones, in order to restore the thyroid gland to its ideal levels of function.
These treatments are strictly individualized. Restoration of normal cell function, by addressing the root causes of the disease, helps to restore metabolism, properly regulate body weight, improve mood and increase energy levels, without “special diets” and deprivations.
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