Symptoms and Signs of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 2/2/2022

Doctor's Notes on Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis (also termed chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and/or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis) is a disorder that causes the thyroid gland to underproduce thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). The symptoms and signs are slowly progressive and may develop over years. Some of the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism are numerous and may more or less increase in severity as the disease worsens. Signs and symptoms include at least one or more of the following, such as

  • fatigue,
  • feeling cold,
  • constipation,
  • mental fogginess,
  • dry skin,
  • retention,
  • stiffness and aches in muscles and joints,
  • prolonged menstrual bleeding,
  • depression,
  • weight gain,
  • face puffiness,
  • infertility,
  • thinning and brittle hair and/or hair loss,
  • slow heart rate,
  • irregular menstrual periods,
  • decreased sweating,
  • nails are thick and/or brittle,
  • decreased reflexes,
  • swollen hands and feet,
  • cold skin,
  • sleepiness, and
  • enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).

The cause of Hashimoto's thyroiditis is thought by researchers to be a combination of genetic predisposition along with an environmental trigger that starts the autoimmune destruction of the thyroid. The triggers are unknown. Researchers also theorize that heredity, gender, and age play a role in developing this disease. In addition, there are risk factors that are closely associated with the development of Hashimoto's thyroiditis such as female gender (about 10 to 15 times more likely to develop the disease than men), family history, excessive iodine intake, and radiation exposure to the thyroid gland.

What Is the Treatment for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

Treatment for the disease includes observation and medications.

  • Observation
    • Tests suggest Hashimoto's disease, but the person has no symptoms of the disease.
    • Repeated tests over time to see if thyroid hormone levels and/or abnormal antibodies develop
  • Medications
    • Synthetic hormone replacement (levothyroxine)
    • Repeated tests of levothyroxine to check for therapeutic levels to avoid under and overdosing

In addition, your doctor can discuss the use of certain medicines that may need changing because they alter the absorption of levothyroxine and can caution you on the use of alternative medicines like Armour Thyroid.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.