An autoimmune disease refers to a condition where in the body’s defense mechanism cannot distinguish between the cells and tissues of the body and foreign cells. As a result the defense mechanism attacks the body’s tissues and cells. When it comes to autoimmune thyroid disorders, the antibodies in the body attack the thyroid gland. This can result in Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Hashitoxicosis.
Autoimmune thyroid disease has a genetic factor linked to it and researchers believe that the mutated genes are inherited. Also, environmental factors play a big role in triggering the disease in people who are predisposed to it.
In Grave’s disease, the thyroid gland produces more quantity of thyroid hormones after the gland gets stimulated by an antibody known as thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb). This is a kind hyperthyroidism that causes excessive perspiration, anxiety, sensitivity to heat, sleeping problems, rapid heart beat, fatigue, tremors of the hands and finger, enlarged thyroid gland, frequently going to the toilet, and losing weight even though a person is eating normally. In women, Grave’s disease can lead to menstrual problems. A person is also at a risk of developing eye problems known as Grave’s ophthalmopathy which causes the eyeballs to bulge out.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes a swelling of the thyroid gland due to the attack by the antibodies. This results in the gland producing less quantities of thyroid hormone. Usually, if there is a family history of this autoimmune disorder, a person has a higher chance of developing it. At times, the disorder can also be brought by a bacterial or viral infection. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a kind of hypothyroidism and the some of the symptoms are enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), being sensitive to cold, ache in the muscles, depression, fatigue, gaining weight without intention, puffiness of the face, dryness of the skin and hoarse voice.
Hashitoxicosis is transient thyroid disorder that is prevalent among people suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In this can the person suffers from episodes of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism at the same time. The episodes occur due to the antibodies, namely thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase, attacking the follicles of the thyroid gland. When the follicles are attacked, the hormones stored in the gland get released into the bloodstream causing hyperthyroidism symptoms, while the other antibodies attack the thyroid gland causing a suppression of the thyroid gland. Hence, when this occurs, the person will have symptoms of both kinds of thyroid diseases at the same time.