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April 03, 2023 8 min read

Hashimoto's disease is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is a type of thyroid disorder that causes fatigue, weight gain, depression, and other symptoms. If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, you may be wondering what it is and how to manage it. This guide will provide answers to all your questions and help you feel more informed about this common condition.

What is Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. It secretes two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), into the bloodstream to regulate your metabolism (or how quickly your body converts food into energy). The thyroid hormone affects nearly every organ in your body, including the way your heart beats and your body temperature. Having a healthy thyroid function allows the cells and organs in your body to work properly. But a thyroid disorder like Hashimoto's disease can leave you feeling less than great. 

Also known as Hashimoto's disease, autoimmune thyroiditis, or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis is when your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells of your thyroid gland and causes a build-up of white blood cells in your thyroid. As a result, your thyroid becomes inflamed and damaged. When your thyroid is damaged, it won't be able to produce as much thyroid hormone as it should. The decrease in hormone production, also known as hypothyroidism, can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms. 

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a common condition. It's estimated that 5 in 100 people in the United States are affected by this thyroid disorder.


According to the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Also known as underactive thyroid, it occurs when your thyroid gland makes less thyroid hormone than your body needs. Since the thyroid gland controls your metabolism and affects almost every organ in your body, low thyroid hormone levels can cause your metabolism to slow down and leads to a number of health issues.

What are the symptoms of Hashimoto's disease?

Despite the significant impacts of Hashimoto's disease, it often goes undiagnosed because there are no unique or significant symptoms associated with it. The autoimmune thyroid disease gradually builds up over many years. Eventually, it can result in the following symptoms. 


Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. A major sign of goiter is when the front of your neck looks swollen. While it's not cancerous, it will put pressure on your neck and interfere with your swallowing, speaking, and breathing process.

Underactive thyroid

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are as follows:

  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain

  • Muscle aches

  • Dry skin

  • Thinning hair

  • More sensitivity to cold

  • Irregular menstrual period, heavier than usual

  • Slowed heart rate

  • Depression

  • Memory problem

  • Constipation

  • Hoarse voice.

The symptoms may be different for everyone.

What causes Hashimoto's disease?

It's still unclear why the immune system can mistakenly attack your thyroid cells. Researchers thought that the following factors may play a role.


Women have a much higher risk of developing Hashimoto's disease than men, with women being seven times more likely to be affected. This discrepancy can be partially attributed to hormonal differences between genders. 


If your family members have a history of autoimmune disease or thyroid disorder, you may have a higher risk for Hashimoto's Disease.

Iodine Intake

Some medications that contain iodine may trigger thyroid disease.

Environmental trigger

Stress, infection, and radiation exposure may be a factor that causes Hashimoto's disease. 

Who is more likely to develop Hashimoto's disease?


As stated above, women are approximately 7 times more likely to have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. The condition can begin during pregnancy.

Middle Age

Although anyone can get Hashimoto's disease, it more commonly occurs in middle-aged people from 40 to 60 years old.

Those who have other autoimmune diseases

Other autoimmune diseases can also lead to Hashimoto's disease, such as

  • Type 1 Diabetes.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Pernicious anemia.

  • Dermatomyositis.

  • Sjogren's syndrome.

  • Celiac disease.

  • Graves disease.

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Who discovered Hashimoto's disease?

Hakaru Hashimoto was the first person to recognize Hashimoto. He is a Japanese surgeon. In 1912, he published a series of papers describing the symptoms and pathology of the disease. The disease is now named after him due to his pioneering work.

What should I do to prevent Hashimoto's disease?

Experts are still trying to understand why the immune system can mistakenly attack something that it should be protecting. As such, preventing Hashimoto's disease is currently not possible. However, detecting and treating this disease while it's still in its early stage can help slow its progression. So always be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

What to do if I suspect Hashimoto's disease?

If you suspect that you may have Hashimoto's disease, there are many steps you can take to determine whether or not you really have it. The first thing you need to do is look out for the signs and symptoms of the condition. If you've been feeling tired and cold all the time, anxious, constipated, as well as gaining weight unexpectedly, it could be time for further investigation. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Be sure to tell them about your symptoms and your concerns. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your condition and help you come up with the best treatment plan. 

How do doctors diagnose Hashimoto's disease?

Two doctors ready to test you for Hashimoto's thyroiditis

To diagnose Hashimoto's disease, your doctor may start by reviewing your physical history and performing a physical exam. They will ask about your symptoms and then check your neck for a goiter. Then they will order one or more blood tests. The following are the most common tests performed to diagnose Hashimoto's disease.

TSH Test

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is an essential blood test for determining thyroid diseases, including hypothyroidism. It aims to determine whether the TSH level is in a normal amount.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland. When the pituitary detects a drop in thyroid hormone production, it will produce more TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormones.

A higher number of TSH means your body detects a lack of thyroid hormone production. This condition may indicate hypothyroidism.

Free T4 Test

The next test doctors usually use to diagnose thyroid disorders is the free T4 test. This test is carried out to confirm the results of your TSH test by finding the amount of free T4 (FT4) in your bloodstream. T4 is the inactive thyroid hormone. The meaning of FT4 is how much T4 is not bound to proteins in the blood. If your free T4 level is below normal, it confirms that you have hypothyroidism. It also shows that the problem is within your thyroid gland.

Antibody tests

To confirm that your hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto's disease, your doctor will order an antibody test. These tests are designed to look for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies. TPO is a protein that has a vital role in thyroid hormone production. When you have Hashimoto's disease, your immune system produces an antibody to this protein. That's why it's called TPO antibodies. If they're detected through a blood test, it can provide a definitive diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In certain cases, your doctor may also order more tests to find other antibodies associated with this autoimmune disorder.

Can Hashimoto's disease lead to complications?

The answer is yes, particularly if Hashimoto's thyroiditis is left untreated. 

One of the main complications of the disease is that it can increase your risk of getting other autoimmune disorders. Thrombocytopenic purpura, vitiligo, Grave's disease, Addison disease, type 1 diabetes, lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, and rheumatoid arthritis are some examples.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis can also lead to thyroid cancer called thyroid lymphoma. Although this complication is rare, as long as the risk isn't zero, you still need to pay attention. Hearing the word cancer always leaves a frightening impression, but relax. Thyroid lymphoma is very treatable and curable when it's diagnosed early on. Be sure to be more aware of any thyroid lumps that may grow on your thyroid. If you suspect anything, get it inspected by your doctor. Communicate with them about the steps you should take to manage the condition.

Heart problems are another complication that can result from Hashimoto's disease. It may happen because hypothyroidism can cause irregular heartbeats, low heart rate, and high levels of low-density lipoprotein (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and heart failure).

What are the treatment options for Hashimoto's disease?

The treatment depends on whether your thyroid is impaired enough to cause hypothyroidism. If you don't have hypothyroidism or your test result shows a normal level of FT4 with a higher level of TSH (mild or subclinical hypothyroidism), your doctor may simply monitor your levels constantly.

Otherwise, if your thyroid cannot produce a sufficient amount of hormones for your body, you will need thyroid hormone replacement medication.

Thyroid hormone replacement medication

There are several options available when it comes to treating hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Levothyroxine pills, the generic name for Synthroid and Levoxyl, are commonly prescribed hormone therapy for those suffering from hypothyroidism. It contains the synthetic version of the T4 hormone that is identical to the natural T4 produced by the human thyroid gland.

While levothyroxine is an effective way to treat the condition, many patients report greater success when taking natural desiccated thyroid (NDT).

NDT is derived from dried pig thyroid glands and contains both T3 and T4 hormones, which can help restore balance in the body better than only one hormone. It has been used to treat hypothyroidism since the early 1900s. There are many NDT brands out there, but if you're looking to buy desiccated thyroid online, VitaliThy is the best option.

Since there is no cure for hypothyroidism, you might need to take thyroid hormone medication for the rest of your life.

The first and most important thing about using thyroid hormone medication is taking the right dosage so it can help your body to regulate metabolism and heart rate. However, it can take some trials and errors before you find the right dose.

Is there any food I need to avoid if I have Hashimoto's disease?

One thing you need to pay attention to in your diet is iodine. This mineral is necessary to produce thyroid hormone. However, those with Hashimoto's disease may be more sensitive to its negative side effects of it. You still need iodine, but you should avoid eating too much iodine-rich food such as dulse and kelp because they can make your hypothyroidism worse. 

Another food you may consider avoiding is food that contains gluten, including wheat, barley, and rye products. Hashimoto's disease can lead to celiac disease (an immune reaction to gluten). So following a gluten-free diet may be beneficial for you. Further, some studies found that people with an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's disease may benefit from a gluten-free diet even if they don't suffer from celiac disease. 

Gluten can also be found in some thyroid medications, so it's important to read the ingredients carefully. The NDT supplement VitaliThy is free from gluten, so it can be an option to consider.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about foods and beverages you need to avoid.

Can lifestyle changes treat Hashimoto's disease?

A healthy lifestyle is important for everybody, especially those who have health problems like Hashimoto's disease. If you're already living a healthy lifestyle, keep it up! But if you haven't, consider starting today. 

A healthy diet, regular exercise, a good night's sleep, and good stress management can help improve your immune system and tackle the symptoms of your hypothyroidism.

Also, talk to your healthcare assistant about taking supplements that contain selenium, iron, curcumin, zinc, and magnesium. They will help recommend the best way for you to take supplements based on your condition.

Conclusion: Hashimoto's disease is a manageable condition

Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune condition when your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland. You may be terrified to discover that you have Hashimoto's disease, especially since it's not curable. But don't worry too much and take a deep breath. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a highly manageable condition as long as you take your medication, such as VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, regularly as instructed by your doctor. Be sure to get your blood regularly tested so your doctor can adjust your dosage from time to time and make sure that you are on your best dose.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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