Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an inflammatory disease of the thyroid.  Thyroid surgery may be indicated for compressive symptoms, pain, a suspicious nodule or difficulty managing the thyroid hormone level.  Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common thyroid disease in the United States. It is an inherited condition that affects approximately 14 million Americans and affects women seven times more often than in men.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is characterized by the production of autoantibodies and immune cells by the body’s immune system.  These can damage thyroid cells and compromise their ability to make thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism occurs if the amount of thyroid hormone that can be produced is not enough for the body’s needs.  Patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroidits often experience enlargement of the thyroid gland, forming a goiter or develop nodules.  Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain over the thyroid
  • Sensation of choking or difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty with learning
  • Dry, brittle hair and nails
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Puffy face
  • Constipation
  • Sore muscles
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Increased frequency of miscarriages
  • Increased sensitivity to many medications

If you're feeling increasingly tired or sluggish, have dry skin, constipation and a hoarse voice, or have had previous thyroid problems or goiter, your doctor may test for Hashimoto's disease. When you see your doctor, it's important to completely describe the changes you've observed, because many signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease may be associated with a number of other conditions.

Patients with Hashimoto’s often require thyroid hormone supplementation but frequently the amount of hormone needed varies unpredictably.  Total thyroidectomy may make it easier to manage the hormone level.  Less than a total thyroidectomy may be appropriate for treatment of a nodule or for compressive symptoms.