Autoimmune thyroiditis is a disease in which the body begins to attack the thyroid, producing antibodies that eventually destroy a person's thyroid cells. There are two types of autoimmune thyroiditis, depending on the presence or absence of goiters. Goiters are a swelling of the neck or larynx. If a person develops goiters, they are said to have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. If there are no goiters, then the patient is said to have Atrophic Thyroiditis.
Symptoms for autoimmune thyroiditis depend upon whether the person is suffering from hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. In hyperthyroidism, a person will display sweating, rapid heart rate, fatigue, tremors, or protruding eyes. In hypothyroidism, a person may experience weight gain, fatigue, intolerance to cold temperatures, and even constipation.
Hashimoto's disease is the result of hypothyroidism, and is a largely hereditary condition. Middle-aged women are more likely to develop Hashimoto's disease than others, especially if they already another autoimmune disease, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or type 1 diabetes.
Grave's disease is another type of autoimmune thyroiditis, one that results in bulging eyes, goiters, and is far more frequent in women than men. Grave's disease is the result of hyperthyroidism, and can be treated with antithyroid medications, or surgery in the case of large goiters.