Hashimoto’s disease in women

Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disorder resulting from deficiency of thyroid hormones. If the thyroid gland does not secrete enough thyroid hormones the body requires then the metabolism slows down and the woman becomes hypothyroid.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis has become the most common autoimmune disease and cause of hypothyroidism in North America and other industrialized countries. This disease runs in the family and occurs six times more often in women than in men.

In Hashimoto’s the thyroid gland is slowly destroyed by the thyroid antibodies as a result of an autoimmune attack. As more damage to the thyroid occurs with time, less thyroid cells are able to produce thyroid hormones and she becomes hypothyroid.

In the early stages of the Hashimoto’s disease some women may experience hashitoxicosis that is intermittent and a temporary phase of overactive thyroid function.

Hashitoxicosis is caused by inflammation associated with an autoimmune reaction that disturbs the thyroid follicles. The antibodies cause the thyroid gland to slowly die off and release an excess of thyroid hormones. The metabolism speeds up and women can start to experience physical symptoms similar to hyperthyroidism.

Hashitoxicosis is a short-term event that is characterized by hyperthyroid symptoms such as weight loss, anxiety, heat intolerance, fatigue, hair loss, weakness, hyperactivity, irritability, apathy, trembling, depression and excessive sweating.

Additionally, severe symptoms of overactive thyroid in women such as palpitations and arrhythmias (rapid heart beat), shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can occur. About 11.5% of patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis experience hashitoxicosis that may last as long as 6 months.

Hashimoto’s disease progresses slowly and it could take up to several years to develop hypothyroidism and symptoms of underactive thyroid. Hypothyroid symptoms in women are varied because there are thyroid hormone receptors in virtually every tissue of the body and many physiological functions are affected by the lack of the hormone.

Often subclinical hypothyroidism occurs first then progresses to a persistent hypothyroidism that requires thyroid hormone replacement. In most cases Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a permanent condition that cannot be reversed and needs a life-long treatment.


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