Autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT) is characterized by inflammation in the chronic form of the tissues of the thyroid gland, in which follicular cells are damaged and then destroyed. At the same time, the inflammatory process is not caused by any external influence, but by the attack of the thyroid gland by the immune system of the body. In women, pathology occurs on average twenty times more often than in men, which is associated with the influence of female hormones – estrogens – on the lymphoid system. Typically, autoimmune thyroiditis is diagnosed in people after forty to fifty years, although it can also occur in children and young people. It should be noted that in the first years of the course of the disease, the pathology does not manifest itself; therefore, its timely diagnosis is difficult.
Numerous studies have found that the cause of the pathology is a genetic predisposition. And the accompanying stress can be a contributing factor. Infectious diseases and a bad environmental situation can also provoke the development of AIT. The immune system serves as a protector of the human body from foreign agents (viruses, bacteria). But if for any reason it fails, it starts to mistakenly attack the cells of the organism itself, taking them as alien. When this happens, autoimmune pathologies occur. In autoimmune thyroiditis, the antibodies produced by the immune system begin to destroy the thyroid cells, which can cause hypothyroidism.
As already mentioned, at the initial stage, the pathology does not manifest itself and can only be revealed upon examination of the thyroid gland. In this condition, called euthyroidism, the body retains its normal functions and produces hormones in the required amount. Over time, hypothyroidism occurs, usually characterized by a decrease in the size of the thyroid gland. But it often happens that hypothyroidism is preceded by hyperthyroidism, which, on the contrary, causes an increase in organ. At this stage, the main symptoms appear: difficulty breathing and swallowing, painful sensation in the organ area. With AIT, the patient’s face becomes pale and puffy, hair is sparse and fragile. Movement slows down, speech disorders occur due to edema of the tongue. Patients complain of problems with memory, constant fatigue, poor performance. In women, there is a violation of the menstrual cycle, and later in many cases amenorrhea occurs (cessation of menstruation completely). Therefore, autoimmune thyroiditis and pregnancy are often incompatible. In men, there may be a decrease in sexual desire and, as a result, impotence. Children with this pathology usually lag behind in their development and growth from their peers.
Specific therapy aimed at treating autoimmune thyroiditis, unfortunately, does not exist. Treatment is reduced to maintaining the required amount of thyroid hormones in the blood. In euthyroidism, the therapy is not carried out, but every six months a control examination is carried out. In hypothyroidism, the missing hormones are replenished with special preparations. In hyperthyroidism, symptomatic therapy is performed to reduce the onset of symptoms.