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Hashimoto’s Disease and Thyroid Hormone Treatment

Hashimoto’s Disease and Thyroid Hormone Treatment

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common thyroid disease in the United States.  It is an inherited disease that is about 7 times more common in women than men.  It is characterized by the production of immune cells and autoantibodies by the body’s immune system, which can damage thyroid cells and compromise their ability to make thyroid hormone resulting in hypothyroidism.  The thyroid gland may also enlarge in some patients, forming a goiter and nodules.

Many patients with Hashimoto’s disease may have no symptoms for many years and the diagnosis is made incidentally when an enlarge thyroid gland or abnormal blood tests are discovered as part of a routine examination.  However, patients with Hashimoto’s disease who develop hypothyroidism are likely to do develop symptoms:  fatigue; forgetfulness; dry skin; brittle hair and nails; constipation; sore muscles; weight gain; menstrual irregularities.

A physician experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease can detect a goiter by performing a physical examination and can recognize hypothyroidism by identifying characteristic symptoms and doing the appropriate laboratory tests.  These tests include measurement of thyroid function and antithyroid antibodies.  TSH, produced by the pituitary gland is the most accurate indication of thyroid function.  It will rise dramatically even before the levels of thyroid hormone (T4 and T3) circulating in the body become low in someone with impending hypothyroidism.

Patients with hypothyroidism must take a pill containing thyroid hormone every day to replace the thyroid hormone they lack.  Synthetic T4, called levothyroxine, is exactly the same as the T4 made by the body.  Some patients may also require T3 therapy, which is another thyroid hormone that circulates in our bodies.  This can be achieved by adding liothyronine or by taking Armour Thyroid, which has T4 and T3 in it.  It is important that your physician base appropriate treatment not only on blood tests, but on symptoms due to the broad normal range of thyroid levels.

Thyroid Specialists Wellington