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What is Hashimoto's disease?

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ on the front of your neck. Its main function is to produce a thyroid hormone that regulates your metabolism. Hypothyroidism occurs when a person's thyroid function decreases. Hashimoto thyroditis, also known as Hashimoto's disease, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S.

"Hashimoto's disease causes chronic inflammation of the thyroid, as antibodies form attacking your thyroid cells due to the changes to your immune mechanisms," says Dr. Sakine Sever, a Mayo Clinic Health System endocrinologist.

RISK FACTORS

Dr. Sever explains stress, infections, certain medications, and environmental and genetic factors are all thought to be triggers of Hashimoto's disease. The affliction is also thought to be more common in females compared to males and is mostly seen between the ages of 30 and 50, with incidence increasing as you age.

SYMPTOMS OF HASHIMOTO'S DISEASE

In some cases, people may not notice the signs or symptoms of Hashimoto's disease, as thyroid function can be normal. In some rare cases, thyroid function may be increased. However, in most cases, a decrease in thyroid hormone production results in chronic inflammation. Dr. Sever says this can cause these symptoms:

-- Fatigue

-- Weight gain

-- Constipation

-- Dry skin

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