Researchers find Hashimoto's thyroiditis may be over diagnosed

A new study that was recently published in the journal Thyroid Research reveals that Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) may be too frequently diagnosed. The researchers report that the prevalence of HT is reported in between 0.3 and 1.2 percent of the population, which is twice the occurrence of type 1 diabetes.

Yet, the scientists note that the prevalence of HT has not been confirmed by cytology, or the study of cells. In order to clarify the true cases of HT, the researchers created a database of clinical features, ultrasound images and cytology results of patients who underwent biopsies for a suspicious thyroid nodule.

The team looked at 811 patients who underwent ultrasound-guided thyroid biopsies at the Thyroid-Multidisciplinary Clinic over a two-and-half-year period. They found that out of 761 patients, 102 had HT, 56 were euthyroid and 46 were hypothyroid. Based on the results, the researchers wrote that this is the first study to show a high prevalence for HT and that more research needs to be done.

According to the Mayo Clinic, HT - which is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis - makes the immune system attack the thyroid gland. The inflammation can result in an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism. In addition, HT is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S, according to the news source.

Those who have the condition may experience symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, sensitivity to the cold, dry skin, elevated cholesterol, muscle aches and depression. As the disease progresses, symptoms may increase or get worse, especially if left untreated. Individuals who ignore these symptoms can develop an enlarged thyroid gland, which is also known as a goiter.

The Academy of Family Physicians reports that Hashimoto's thyroiditis is five times more common in women than men in the U.S.