Q: What is Hashimoto's Disease? What are the signs and symptoms?
Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects your thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland at the base of your throat that produces hormones to regulate your metabolism—how quickly your body processes energy from food. With Hashimoto's Disease, your immune system attacks your thyroid, causing inflammation that leads to hypothyroidism. That means your thyroid doesn't make enough hormones, so your metabolism slows down.
One of the first symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease is a swollen thyroid, called goiter. Over time, the disease can also cause weight gain, fatigue, depression, stiff joints and muscles, hair loss, unusually heavy periods, and brain fog. More serious complications can occur if the disease is left untreated. Hashimoto's Disease is more common in women than men, can run in families, and is more likely to appear in people who also have other autoimmune disorders.
Fortunately, this disease can be managed effectively with hormone replacement. If you have concerns or are experiencing symptoms, talk with your primary care physician. If you need to see a specialist, your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist or otolaryngologist (also known as an ENT or Ear, Nose and Throat doctor).
David S. Crow, MD
71 Kanoa St., Suite 101
Wailuku, HI 96793