What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or simply Hashimoto’s, is commonly and incorrectly treated as a thyroid issue when it is really an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and damage.
This damage can cause the gland to become enlarged and can lead to decreased thyroid function and hypothyroidism, a condition in which the gland produces insufficient hormones.
Hashimoto’s disease affects ~5 in 100 Americans. It is more common in women than men and tends to progress in middle age. It is also more common in people with a family history of thyroid disease or other autoimmune disorders.
In this article, we’ll explore Hashimoto’s disease & its symptoms, how to test for the condition, and popular Hashimoto’s disease treatment options.
What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is more common in women than in men. Although the disease may occur in young females, it more often develops in middle-aged women.
The chance of developing Hashimoto’s disease increases with a family history of Hashimoto’s or in the presence of other autoimmune disorders, such as:
- Celiac disease: A digestive disorder that damages the small intestine
- Lupus: A chronic disorder that can affect many parts of the body
- Rheumatoid arthritis A disorder that affects the joints
- Type 1 diabetes: A disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high
What are the Symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease?
Many people with Hashimoto’s may not experience any Hashimoto Disease symptoms for years. However, as the disorder progresses, symptoms may begin to develop.
One common first sign of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs when the thyroid increases in size. This eventually causes the front of the neck to look swollen. The enlarged thyroid, or goiter, is not painful but it may create a feeling of fullness in the throat.
Some other common symptoms of Hashimoto’s are: fatigue, weight gain, a puffy face, insomnia, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, joint pain, and muscle weakness. Common Hashimoto’s disease symptoms in females may include heavy or irregular menstrual periods or fertility problems, thinning hair, and changes in mood.
How Serious is Hashimoto's Disease?
If left untreated, Hashimoto’s can lead to several dangerous conditions including high cholesterol, heart disease and heart failure, high blood pressure, and a rare condition called myxedema that causes the body’s functions to slow to life-threatening levels.
Hashimoto's Disease Test
How to Treat Hashimoto's Disease
Hashimoto’s Disease Treatment with Forum Health
At Forum Health, we take a functional medicine approach to identify the root cause of your Hashimoto’s disease and use customized treatment plans to fight inflammation in the thyroid and throughout the body, strengthening the immune system, and decreasing the thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO) load.
Forum Health can help you on your journey towards well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hashimoto's disease progresses through five stages with different symptoms and levels of thyroid hormone production.
- Stage 1: The thyroid gland is enlarged and produces too much hormone, leading to symptoms such as weight issues, anxiety, and heart palpitations.
- Stage 2: The thyroid gland begins to produce less hormone, causing symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and weight gain.
- Stage 3: The thyroid gland becomes damaged and the body's immune system starts attacking it. Symptoms may include a goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) and difficulty swallowing.
- Stage 4: The thyroid gland continues to be damaged which ultimately leads to hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone production). Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and dry skin.
- Stage 5: The most severe stage of Hashimoto's disease occurs when the thyroid gland is almost completely destroyed and the body produces none or very little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and cold intolerance.
Yes, you can certainly lower your risk of getting Hashimoto’s thyroiditis by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise can help boost your immune system and lower inflammation in the body, which may reduce the risk of autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto's. It's also important to manage stress levels, as chronic stress can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation. Avoiding exposure to toxins and pollutants, such as cigarette smoke and environmental toxins, can also reduce the risk of autoimmune disorders. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for a customized plan and treatment options.
This is how some people mistakenly misspell Hashimoto’s disease.Other common misspellings are Hashimo, Hoshimoto, Hasimoto, & Hachimoto.
Yes, there are foods that will trigger flare-ups and prevent you from reversing your Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis such as added sugars and sweets, fast food and fried foods, refined grains, highly processed foods, and meats, gluten-containing grains and foods, high-glycemic fruits, nightshades, dairy and eggs, soy, lectins, and alcohol. Your practitioner will help you determine which foods to avoid and customize a food plan that’s right for you.
Other common metabolic disorders include metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and hyperlipidemia.
Yes, there are vitamins that will trigger Hashimoto’s flare-ups and prevent you from reversing your Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Your practitioner will help you determine which vitamins to avoid and customize a supplement plan right for you.
Hashimoto’s disease is caused by stress (emotional, physical, and/or social); H. Pylori bacterial infection; Nutrient Deficiencies; Leaky Gut (intestinal permeability); SIBO/SIFO (bacterial/fungal overgrowth syndromes); Gluten sensitivity (Celiac & NCGS); Certain viruses and other autoimmune disorders.
A Hashimoto’s flare-up is a period of worsening and intense symptoms that can be triggered by an emotional or physical stressor, such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Hormonal imbalance
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Medications and supplements
- A significant change, like a move or a career shift
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped hormone gland located at the front of the neck under the skin. It plays a vital role in controlling heart and brain function, metabolism, and the growth and development of the human body. It helps regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady number of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.
Yes, the early stages of Hashimoto’s can be reversed with functional medicine. At Forum Health, we address Hashimoto’s thyroiditis by identifying and treating its root cause. We do this first through advanced, state-of-the-art testing to assess all body functions and detect patterns that could have led to the disorder. From there, we are able to customize a plan designed for your body’s needs to address issues such as inflammation, lowered immunity, and contributing lifestyle factors. The length and intensity of treatment depend on the severity of damage to the thyroid and whether or not the damage has led to hypothyroidism. In cases of severe damage, symptoms can be managed with the same approach.