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The thyroid is a small gland in front of the neck that makes produces hormones to control the body organs. When there is a deficiency in making these hormones then the body functions get affected. It also affects one’s energy levels, mood and weight.

If the thyroid gets inflamed then the condition is known as thyroiditis. This happens mainly when the body makes antibodies that attack the thyroid by mistake. Such a condition is called as autoimmune thyroiditis, lymphocytic thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s disease.

What are the causes for thyroiditis?

Still it is not very clear why the immune system behaves in such a harmful way. There are possibly many reasons including a defective gene, a virus attack or a combination of many causes.

Who can get affected?

Women are more likely to get autoimmune thyroiditis and especially if they are in the middle age group. Those having other autoimmune disorders like lupus, type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are also likely to be affected. Those exposed to environmental radiation is also susceptible to get the disorder.

What are its symptoms?

As the disease progresses, the thyroid may become enlarged and lead to goitre formation. The front of the neck will be swollen, which makes the throat feel always full. It usually does not give any pain and if left alone will shrink on its own, though it does not mean the patient is cured.

Since the thyroid is damaged it leads to hypothyroidism or too little of thyroid hormones leading to major symptoms like  tiredness, puffy face, sensitivity to cold, trouble in passing stools, enlarged tongue, pale and brittle nails, hair loss, weight gain, muscle aches and joint pains, depression, memory lapse and irregular menstruation.

What is the treatment for autoimmune thyroiditis?

The doctor will treat an autoimmune thyroiditis patient with prescription medicines like levothyroxine or Unithyroid which is human made thyroid substitute. The dosage of the medicine will be adjusted frequently to suit your progress and medicines are for life. The diet is important during the therapy and so foods like high-fibre diet and soy products are best avoided.

The doctor should also know whether you are taking iron supplements, cholesterol medicines, antacids that have aluminium hydroxide, ulcer medicines or calcium substitutes.

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