Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, mistakenly sensing them as foreign. When the body attacks thyroid gland tissue, it is known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, named after Japanese physician Dr. Haruko Hashimoto, who first described the illness in 1912. The condition is also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in most of the world. It is also the most common autoimmune disease known to man. It affects males and females as well as the young and the old. But it is most common in women, is more likely to occur with age, and is more prevalent in those with a family history of thyroid disease or other autoimmune disease.
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. It regulates a wide range of vital body functions, influencing the rate at which every cell, tissue, and organ in your body — from your muscles, bones, and skin to your digestive tract, brain, and heart — functions. It does this primarily by secreting hormones that control how fast and efficiently cells convert nutrients into energy — a chemical activity known as metabolism.
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