Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is an auto immune disease brought about by immune system attack on the thyroid gland. Consequently the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones to set the rate for metabolism. The thyroid cells are unable to convert iodine into thyroid hormone. This disease progresses slowly and often it is not detected. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is often noticed in women of childbearing age. The symptoms may be similar to that of hypothyroidism. This disease is named after the Japanese physician Hakaru Hashimoto who first studied and described this condition.
Symptoms of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis include sensitivity and intolerance to cold and dry hair and skin. The woman suffering from Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is likely to suffer muscle cramps and increased menstrual flow. There is fatigue and difficulty in concentration. Goiter or swelling of thyroid may be seen. There is hair loss and possible weight gain. As the disease progresses, there may be symptoms such as joint stiffness and facial swelling.
Blood tests of patients suffering from Hashimoto's thyroiditis will reveal elevated levels of antibodies. Treatment for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis includes replacement of thyroid hormones. The dosage will be prescribed by the doctor to maintain the right balance.
ANA blood test
Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) refer to the unusual antibodies that are detectable in the blood. ANA are gamma-globulins type of antibodies that are found in patients with certain autoimmune diseases. ANA are directed against certain components found in the nucleus of a cell in the body. These antibodies have the capacity of binding certain structures within the nucleus of the cells. The ANA test was first designed by Dr.George Friou in 1957. The laboratory blood test exposes the antibodies in the serum of the blood to cells. It is then determined whether or not antibodies are present that react to various parts of the nucleus of cells. Hence the term 'anti-nuclear' antibody is used.
Fluorescence techniques are adopted to detect the ANA antibodies in the cells. Thus ANA testing is sometimes referred to as fluorescent antinuclear antibody test (FANA). Nowadays, a method to detect antinuclear antibodies called enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is replacing the previous method of immunofluorescent assay technique. The ELISA method is less likely to produce false positive ANA result than the previous method.
Patterns also give doctors a clue as to the type of illness to look for while evaluating a patient. For instance, the disease Scleroderma shows in nucleolar pattern. If a person does not have any autoimmune disease, it is defined in speckled pattern. An ANA blood test is used in patients who might be suffering from Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, scleroderma, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, juvenile diabetes mellitus, Addison's disease, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, glomerulonephritis and pulmonary fibrosis. ANA can also be found in patients with conditions that are not considered autoimmune diseases such as chronic infections and cancer.
The result of the ANA test is expressed in titers. A titer of 1 to 80 (1:80) means that antibodies could be last detected when 1 part of the blood sample was diluted by 80 parts of another liquid. Usually this other liquid is a diluted salt solution. A larger second number indicates that the antibodies are present in greater concentration. Therefore a titer of 1 to 320 indicated higher concentration of antibodies in the blood than a titer of 1 to 80. The normal values of ANA blood test is : Titer below 1: 20 or 1:40 depending on the test method used.
Positive ANA test result is suggestive of autoimmune disease. It can also mean that the patient has drug induced lupus. Some drugs and infections can also induce false positive ANA test results. Steroids can cause a false-negative result. Medications, especially antibiotics such as isoniazid, penicillin, and tetracycline, birth control pills, lithium and some diuretics such as chlorthalidone can interfere with the test and affect the accuracy of the ANA test result.
A T3 immunoassay test helps to determine whether the thyroid is functioning properly. It is primarily done to diagnose hyperthyroidism. T3 is also done to monitor the progress of a patient with a known thyroid disorder. T3 test is also sometimes conducted along with thyroid antibodies test to diagnose diseases such as Graves' disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Most of the T3 in the blood is attached to the thyroxine binding globulin. Only less than 1% of the T3 remains unattached. A T3 blood test is used to measure both the bound and the free Triiodothyronine. Increased or decreased T3 test result indicates that there is an imbalance between the body's requirement and supply of the hormone. If a patient is being treated with anti-thyroid medication for hyperthyroidism and the T3 is normal, then it is likely that the medication is controlling the condition. If the T3 is elevated, then the medication is not sufficient and the patient may be experiencing symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. The normal test value for T3 is 100 to 200 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter).
The T4 immunoassay test helps measure the amount of Thyroxine or T4 in the blood. A T4 immunoassay test is primarily done in response to an abnormal TSH result. Sometimes T4 is done along with TSH blood test. Thyroid hormone screening is commonly performed in newborns in the US as part of newborn screening programs for congenital hypothyroidism which may cause mental retardation if left untreated. False positive results can occur when testing a newborn for congenital hypothyroidism. Therefore normally the test is repeated a few days after initial testing. If the results continue to be abnormal, then additional testing is done. The normal range of a T4 test for an adult is 5 - 11 ug/dL (nanograms per deciliter).
There are other thyroid tests that indicate a malfunction. One such test is the 'Thyroid antibodies' test. This test is used to measure the presence of antibodies against thyroid tissue. Antibodies mean that the person has autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis or Graves' disease ( a condition characterized by an enlarged thyroid gland, weight loss without loss of appetite, sweating, heart palpitations, nervousness and inability to tolerate heat).
Thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) is another thyroid test which detects the TBG which is an important protein in the blood that carries the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. This is a rare test and not done very commonly. Other diagnostic tests that are used to investigate problems with thyroid gland are the thyroid scan, thyroid ultrasound and thyroid biopsy.
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Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 17, 2019