The thyroid gland is the largest pure endocrine gland in the human body. The thyroid is butterfly-shaped and located in the anterior of the neck, on the trachea. The thyroid gland is responsible for the production of thyroid hormone (TH), which is chiefly responsible for the body's metabolic functions and affects every cell in the body.
Adverse thyroid conditions or imbalances affect as much as 40 percent of women and 20 percent of males within the US. Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto's disease was named, in 1912, after the Japanese physician responsible for discovering the thyroid condition. Hashimoto's disease is a result of the body's immune system attacking itself and altering the function of the thyroid gland. Antibodies respond to proteins in the thyroid gland, in turn, damaging thyroid cells and affecting the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) leading to a thyroid imbalance.
Hashimoto's disease is by and large considered a predisposed genetic condition; the genetic factor in Hashimoto's disease accounts for 25 to 50 percent of the likelihood that someone will develop the disorder when the family history is indicative of thyroid problems. Albeit, ones genetics play a large role in developing the thyroid disease genetic traits are only one of a two step process. One must first have a genetic tendency towards the disease and second some environmental factor must initiate the process including such stimuli as environmental pollutants, exposure to radiation, stress, and depression.
Symptoms of Hashimoto's disease often go unnoticed for some time unless the thyroid gland becomes noticeably enlarged or a blood test is performed specifically measuring the levels of antithyroid antibody indicating Hashimoto's disease. The result of Hasimoto's disease is a less active or completely inactive thyroid gland also referred to as hypothyroidism. According to Ridha Arem, M.D. as stated in The Thyroid Solution some patients show signs of only a slightly underactive thyroid gland, which can cause tiredness, dry skin, and lower than usual core body temperatures. The most common symptom of an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is physical and mental fatigue. Anxiety, excessive worrying and panic attacks often accompany hypothyroidism. Additionally, hypothyroidism disrupts cognitive ability and memory, which can lead to low self-esteem and depression.
According to M. Sara Rosenthal in The Thyroid Sourcebook treatment of Hashimoto's disease is simple; thyroid replacement hormones are prescribed upon diagnosis. Patients with Hashimoto's disease will take a synthetic hormone once a day for the rest of their lives; a relatively easy solution. Once the synthetic hormone replacement begins all of the symptoms of Hashimoto's disease disappear.