The thyroid gland is a small gland, normally weighing less than one ounce that is located at the base of the voice box. It is part of the endocrine system. Its basic job is to take iodine from the foods a person eats and convert it into thyroid hormones. Once these hormones are formed, they are transported in the blood where they regulate the metabolism of every cell in the body. One of the diseases that affects the thyroid gland is Hashimoto's Disease.
In this disease the body's immune system begins to attack the thyroid gland, causing it to become inflamed. In turn, the inflammation causes the thyroid gland to slow down. This produces a type of hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto's Disease is a silent disease that can be present in the body for a number of years. It gradually damages the thyroid gland and prevents the cells from receiving the thyroid hormones that they need. This diseas has no symptoms of its own.
When a person begins to experience symptoms, it will be things that are common to an under active thyroid. One of the first symptoms will most likely be extreme fatigue and a feeling of not being able to get anything done. The symptoms can affect the skin, voice, muscles and joints. Hashimoto's disease can also cause unexplained weight gain. As the disease continues, the patient may experience problems with his memory and may become very depressed.
Doctors have no idea what causes the immune system in some patients to turn on the thyroid gland and begin to attack it. Scientists suspect that it may be caused from a virus or bacteria, but there is no evidence to prove that theory. Interestingly enough, Hashimoto's disease seems to affect more middle aged women than any other group, and it is common that if one person in the family has it others will, too.
If left untreated Hashimoto's disease often leads to a goiter forming on the thyroid gland. Some patients begin to experience heart problems and mental health problems, such as severe depression. Babies born to women with Hashimoto’s Disease have a greater possibility of being born with birth defects. It can also cause the newborns to have heart, kidney or brain problems.
Because Hashimoto's disease is an illness that can go undetected for many years, everyone needs to be aware of its possible symptoms. If you find yourself gaining weight for no reason, being extremely tired and feeling depressed, get an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible, and ask him to check you for Hashimoto's Disease.