Font Size

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Quick Overview

  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis (Hashimoto's disease) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a common cause of hypothyroidism.
  • Symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis are numerous. Common symptoms include
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter) may be a sign of Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
  • Blood tests that measure levels of thyroid hormones, regulatory hormones, and auto-antibodies to the thyroid gland are done to establish the diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
  • Treatment involves the administration of thyroid hormone taken in pill form.

What is Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

Hashimoto's thyroiditis, or Hashimoto's disease, is a disorder that affects the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is also known as chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. in people over 6 years of age. It is much more common in women than in men. The peak age of onset for women is between 30 and 50 years of age; most men who are affected typically develop the condition 10-15 years later.

The name comes from the pathologist who in 1912 first described the microscopic features of the disease. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in iodine-sufficient areas throughout the world such as the United States. In general, there is a gradual loss of thyroid function, often accompanied by enlargement of the thyroid gland, also known as a goiter. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is most common in middle-aged women and tends to run in families.

What is the role of the thyroid gland, and what does it look like (picture)?

The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that exert control over and participate in a number of metabolic functions such as temperature and heart rate regulation, and metabolism.

  • The thyroid gland produces two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which play important roles in this regulation.
  • Control of these hormones is maintained by the pituitary gland, (which produces thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH) and the hypothalamus (which produces thyrotropin-releasing hormone, TRH).
  • TSH regulates the production of T3 and T4 while TRH regulates the production of TSH.

If overactivity of any of these three glands occurs, an excessive amount of thyroid hormones can be produced resulting in hyperthyroidism. Similarly, if underactivity of any of these glands occurs, a deficiency of thyroid hormones can result, causing hypothyroidism.

Picture of the thyroid gland
Picture of the thyroid gland
Last Reviewed 11/17/2017

Must Read Articles Related to Hashimoto's Disease

Hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism refers to a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much learn more >>
Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough learn more >>
Myxedema Coma
Myxedema Coma The thyroid gland at the front of the neck is responsible for helping to regulate learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hashimoto's Thyroiditis:

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - Experience

Please share your experience with Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - Symptoms

The symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - Treatments

How was your Hashimoto's thyroid disease treated?

Thyroid picture

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Most Common Cause of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism and their degree of severity may vary and depend on the duration and extent of thyroid hormone deficiency. Individuals with hypothyroidism may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Muscle aching and cramps
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • ....


Medical Dictionary