Hashimoto's Thyroid: Symptoms, Consequences, and Treatment of This Disorder
Hashimoto's thyroid is an autoimmune disease, also known as a lymphocytic or autoimmune thyroid. The immune system of those suffering from this disorder, instead of attacking dangerous substances foreign to our body such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly turns against the thyroid, causing inflammation and leading to its malfunction. The lymphocides, ie the white blood cells present in the blood, they end up accumulating in the thyroid producing antibodies as if there was an enemy to defeat.
The first consequence, therefore, is that the thyroid begins to function in a reduced way, thus causing "hypothyroidism: in this case the thyroid does not produce a quantity of thyroid hormone sufficient for our body and absolutely necessary to regulate metabolism. L" hypothyroidism produced by Hashimoto's thyroid thus leads to slow down the functioning of our body.
Let's find out together what are the causes of this disease, its symptoms, the tests to diagnose it, its consequences and the most effective treatments. Also remember that to keep it at bay it is necessary to take care of your diet and try to keep fit with regular physical activity. Try these exercises to do comfortably at home:
Hashimoto's thyroid: the causes
Hashimoto's thyroid tends to be hereditary: it will be more likely to suffer from it if there are already cases in the family, even if scientists have not yet identified the gene responsible for the problem. We are also studying possible causes related to environmental factors or eating habits: it would seem that, if you are already predisposed to the problem, a high consumption of iodine could be decisive.
Those most at risk are those who already suffer from immune system disorders. In general, women between 30 and 50 years of age suffer from Hashimoto's thyroid gland, although there are frequent cases even among the youngest.
In addition, Hashimoto's thyroid sufferers may be more likely to develop other immune system diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, autoimmune hepatitis or celiac disease.
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Symptoms and consequences of Hashimoto's thyroid: from weight gain to effects on the menstrual cycle
The most obvious symptom of Hashimoto's thyroid is the so-called "goiter", ie the "enlargement of the thyroid gland, evident in the anterior part of the neck. Goiter usually occurs when the disease is already advanced and can lead to perceived discomfort in the throat, even if it is not a real pain.
The first consequence of Hashimoto's thyroid is, as we have explained, hypothyroidism, which is not necessarily present. It can also happen that a subject does not develop it at all or develops it in a mild form without any symptoms. In the most frequent cases, on the other hand, hypothyroidism can lead to numerous symptoms ranging from weight gain to a widespread sense of fatigue, from pain in joints and muscles to intestinal problems, from menstrual cycle disorders (abundant or irregular flows) to difficulty in getting pregnant, from memory problems and depression with slow heart rate.
Tests to diagnose Hashimoto's thyroid
The first test useful to diagnose Hashimoto's thyroid is the physical examination that serves to detect the presence of goiter or swelling in the neck area. At that point it will be necessary to proceed with a blood test to ascertain the presence of hypothyroidism and confirm the diagnosis.
The blood tests required by a doctor for thyroid problems are: the measurement of TSH, the thyroid stimulating hormone (if the result is high, it means that hypothyroidism is present); the measurement of T4, ie the amount of thyroid hormone present in the blood (in hypothyroidism the result will be low); the presence of thyroid antibodies that may have mistakenly attacked the organism (those who suffer from Hashimoto's thyroid generally have antibodies called antiTG and TPO).
Other tests that may be prescribed by the doctor are ultrasound (which could detect an atypical aspect of the inflamed thyroid) and CT, useful to highlight the extent of the swelling and any effects on surrounding organs.
Hashimoto's thyroid care and recommended treatment
Hashimoto's thyroid, whether hypothyroidism is present or not, is treated with synthetic thyroxine, ie synthetic T4, capable of ensuring the patient the necessary amount of thyroid hormone. It must be taken daily. There are several drugs on the market and they all need a medical prescription: therefore, rely on the care of a specialist who can follow your case.
Those who suffer from this disorder need to be monitored with some consistency both as regards the size of the goiter and to vary the necessary doses of synthetic thyroxine based on the TSH value: therefore regular blood tests will be necessary.
Diet: what to eat and what not to eat
For those suffering from thyroid problems it is absolutely recommended to consume foods rich in Omega3, especially fish, and seasonal fruit and vegetables, preferably of organic origin. But be careful: vegetables from the cruciferous family, such as cabbage or broccoli, which can slow down the metabolism of iodine if eaten raw, should be avoided. Proceed with moderation also with regard to turnips, radishes, spinach, beans, soy and, among the fruit, strawberries and peaches.
Yes, on the other hand, with extra virgin olive oil, ginger, turmeric and whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals. All antioxidant foods are also recommended, first of all dried fruit, but also drinkable such as green tea.
Finally, avoid all foods with a high rate of simple sugars or saturated fats of animal origin (dairy products and cured meats in the first place. Limit your gluten intake as much as possible. Here are some very useful foods to help your metabolism:
© iStock Foods that speed up metabolism: all foods for weight loss!
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism: can you go overboard with Hashimoto's thyroid?
The intake of iodine, if not controlled, can be a problem for those suffering from hypo or hyperthyroidism, from which the age-old question arises: going to sea will be good or bad for those suffering from thyroid gland? This is a myth to dispel: in cases of hypothyroidism (which, as we have seen, can be caused by Hashimoto's thyroid) the problem does not exist at all. In cases of hyperthyroidism, however, some precautions should simply be taken such as avoiding the sun in the hottest hours and imitating the consumption of blue fish and iodized salt.
More useful information on Hashimoto's thyroid gland on the Niguarda hospital website