Get the facts about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also called Hashimoto’s disease or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of your thyroid gland. With an autoimmune disease, your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own body tissues the way it would normally attack invading germs.

If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system attacks the thyroid, making it unable to release enough hormones. This can then cause hypothyroidism. Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease are often the same as those for hypothyroidism and commonly include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity to cold

For some people, the immune system’s attack on the thyroid can cause it to initially overcompensate with thyroid hormones and become overactive (hyperthyroidism) before slowing down. When this happens, it’s called Hashitoxicosis. Hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, sweating, anxiety and a rapid heart rate.

Some people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may also notice a lump in the front of the neck, called a goiter.

How is Hashimoto’s disease diagnosed?

If you think you might have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You’ll need a physical exam, including an exam of your neck. You’ll also need a blood test to determine whether your thyroid is working properly.

Get your thyroid back in balance with treatment for Hashimoto’s disease

Treatment for Hashimoto’s disease varies from person to person, depending on your symptoms. If your thyroid is working well for the moment, your doctor may just want to monitor your condition with regular checkups.

If your thyroid doesn’t make enough hormones, you will need to take medicines that contain synthetic versions of thyroid hormones. You’ll still need regular checkups to make sure that your dosage is working well for you.

Goiters often get smaller when you start taking thyroid medicines. If you have problems eating, swallowing or talking because of a goiter, talk to your doctor about surgical removal options.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.