Autoimmune Thyroiditis

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Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. In AIT, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and damage. This can result in an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) or, less commonly, an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).

AIT is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide. It is more common in women than men and typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50.


The exact cause of AIT is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the risk factors for AIT include:

  • Family history of AIT or other autoimmune diseases
  • Female sex
  • Caucasian race
  • Certain infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus
  • Certain medications, such as interferon-alpha and lithium
  • Stress
  • Iodine deficiency


The symptoms of AIT can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, AIT may not cause any symptoms. As the condition progresses, however, symptoms may develop that include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Cold intolerance
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)


AIT is diagnosed based on a physical examination, blood tests, and imaging tests. The physical examination may reveal a goiter. Blood tests can measure thyroid hormone levels and antibodies that are associated with AIT. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound and thyroid scintigraphy, can help to assess the size and function of the thyroid gland.


The goal of treatment for AIT is to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment may include:

  • Thyroid hormone replacement therapy: This is the most common treatment for AIT. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy helps to relieve symptoms and prevent complications of hypothyroidism.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: These medications can help to reduce inflammation in the thyroid gland.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to remove a large goiter or to treat thyroid cancer.


AIT can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Hypothyroidism: This is the most common complication of AIT. Hypothyroidism can lead to a number of health problems, including fatigue, weight gain, constipation, cold intolerance, and dry skin.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This is a less common complication of AIT. Hyperthyroidism can lead to a number of health problems, including weight loss, increased heart rate, and anxiety.
  • Thyroid cancer: AIT is a risk factor for thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the thyroid gland.


The prognosis for AIT is generally good. With proper treatment, most people with AIT can live normal, healthy lives. However, AIT is a chronic condition, and there is no cure. Treatment is typically lifelong.


There is no known way to prevent AIT. However, there are some things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing the condition, such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Limiting exposure to toxins
  • Managing stress

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