What is Hashimoto’s disease?
Hashimoto's disease (hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland, whereby the thyroid gland functions too slowly and in some cases not at all. As a result, the body produces too little or no thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck just below the Adams apple. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones and releases them into the blood via which they are transported to all cells and organs. Those cells and organs get enough energy from the hormones to function properly.
What causes Hashimoto's disease?
Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. In this case, it attacks the thyroid cells, causing chronic inflammation in the thyroid gland. As a result of the breakdown of the body's own cells, the thyroid gland gradually slows down, producing less and less thyroid hormone. This is a slow process and so the number of complaints does not increase rapidly. It is not clear why the immune system targets the thyroid cells, but we do know that it is more common in people with a certain hereditary predisposition and with other autoimmune diseases in the family. Hashimoto's disease is more common in women than in men, and especially in women between the ages of 30 and 50.
Symptoms related to Hashimoto's disease
The lack of thyroid hormone causes a number of processes in the body to slow down, resulting in any of the following complaints:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry and thicker skin
- Sluggish bowel movements (constipation)
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Reduced hearing
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Tingling fingers and hands
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