What Are the Long-term Implications of Hashimoto’s Disease? Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. There are no definite statistics about how many people have Hashimoto’s. But hypothyroidism affects about ten million people in the United States alone.
It is usually easily controlled, but patients need to know what to watch out for.
If you are living with Hashimoto’s, please read on about the possible long-term effects.
What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Simply put, it is an autoimmune condition. For unknown reasons, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The hormones produced by the thyroid control all body energy, so they affect almost every organ of the body.
Damage done to the thyroid gland leads to various thyroid problems. In most cases, this leads to hypothyroidism with its many symptoms. So Hashimoto’s disease causes:
- Extreme fatigue
- Marked weight gain
- Muscular aches and joint pain
- Intolerance of cold
- Dry skin and thinning hair
- Heavy or irregular menses or fertility problems
- Bradycardia or slow heart rate
What Causes It?
Researchers have not yet figured out the science behind Hashimotos. They have, however, isolated many of the influencing factors. These include:
- Hereditary elements in the family
- Certain viruses such as Hepatitis C
- Some medicines that are used to treat mental disorders, including bipolar disorder
- Iodine-based medicines sometimes used in the treatment of an irregular heart rhythm
- Exposure to nuclear radiation or other toxins
How Is It Treated?
If doctors catch the disease in time and give correct treatment, the prognosis is usually excellent. But the symptoms and medication need close monitoring.
Doctors usually treat the disease with hormone replacement therapy. This includes the hormone levothyroxine. This is the same as that produced by a healthy thyroid.
Diet can also play a role in the treatment, and patients should speak to their doctors about their recommendations.
Long-term Effects If Left Untreated
If not treated, or if the patient stops taking his medication, Hashimoto’s Disease can lead to severe complications. These may include
- High cholesterol can cause a heart attack or a stroke
- Hypertension can cause heart and kidney problems, among other health issues
- Heart disease which could lead to heart failure
- Myxodema where body functions slow down to a life-threatening degree
- Pregnancy problems and infertility
Long-term Lifestyle Changes
So what are the long-term implications of this disease? In most cases, it will respond well to treatment, but it will always need monitoring.
Patients must never stop taking medication except under their doctor’s guidance. They will also have to go for continual blood tests to ensure the thyroid doesn’t drop too low or go the other way, causing hyperthyroidism.
They may well be hypersensitive to iodine. They should always disclose their condition if going for X-ray tests or radiation treatment.
Pregnant women need to speak to their doctors. Pregnancy demands extra iodine, which will require monitoring.
The thyroid gland may enlarge, causing the front of the neck to appear swollen. This swelling, known as a goiter, may cause discomfort as it presses on the throat. It may well disappear as the thyroid becomes more damaged.
If You’re Living With Hashimoto’s Disease
Hopefully, you will have seen that there is every likelihood of a full and healthy life expectancy even if you live with Hashimoto’s Disease. This is as long as you follow the prescribed protocol.
If there is anything else we can help you with, please check out our other articles on our site. They’re continually being updated, with your success in mind!
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What Are the Long-term Implications of Hashimoto’s Disease?
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