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Hashimoto's Disease

Hashimoto's Disease Overview

Hashimoto's thyroiditis, or Hashimoto's disease, is a disorder that affects the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is also known as chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.

The name Hashimoto's thyroiditis comes from the pathologist who in 1912 first described the microscopic features of the disease. Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in iodine-sufficient areas throughout the world such as the United States. In general, there is a gradual loss of thyroid function, often accompanied by enlargement of the thyroid gland, also known as a goiter. Hashimoto's disease is most common in middle-aged women and tends to run in families.

As a brief background, the thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that exert control over and participate in a number of metabolic functions such as temperature and heart rate regulation, and metabolism.

  • The thyroid gland produces two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which play important roles in this regulation.
  • Control of these hormones is maintained by the pituitary gland, (which produces thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH) and the hypothalamus (which produces thyrotropin-releasing hormone, TRH).
  • TSH regulates the production of T3 and T4 while TRH regulates the production of TSH.

If overactivity of any of these three glands occurs, an excessive amount of thyroid hormones can be produced, thereby resulting in hyperthyroidism. Similarly, if underactivity of any of these glands occurs, a deficiency of thyroid hormones can result, causing hypothyroidism.

Hypothalamus - TRH

Pituitary- TSH

Thyroid - T4 and T3

Picture of the thyroid gland
Picture of the thyroid gland
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2014

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