Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a condition caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body inappropriately attacks the thyroid gland as if it were foreign tissue. The underlying cause of the autoimmune process still is unknown.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis tends to occur in families, and it is associated with a clustering of other autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is 5-10 times more common in women than in men and most often starts in adulthood. Blood drawn from patients with Hashimoto's throiditis reveals an increased number of antibodies to the enzyme thyroid peroxidase, an enzyme (protein) found within the thyroid gland. As result of the antibodies' interaction with the enzyme, inflammation develops in the thyroid gland, the thyroid gland is destroyed, and the patient ultimately is rendered hypothyroid (too little thyroid hormone).
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