Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Symptoms, Causes, and Complications


Medically reviewed by

Bajaj Finserv Health


5 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can lead to hypothyroidism
  • Pre-existing autoimmune conditions can cause thyroiditis
  • Fatigue and weight gain are symptoms of Hashimoto disease

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease. It is a disorder where your immune system attacks your thyroid. This leads to inflammation of the thyroid, known as thyroiditis. This disease is named after a Japanese surgeon who discovered it in 1912. It is also known by other names such as hashimotos thyroiditis diseases, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, and autoimmune thyroiditis [1].

This autoimmune thyroid disease can lead to hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid. The latter occurs where your thyroid gland produces insufficient hormones to meet your body’s needs [2]. In some cases, the thyroid gland gets inflamed so much that it develops a goiter [3]. Read on to learn more about the causes of hashimotos thyroiditis diseases, its symptoms, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treatment.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Causes

Like other autoimmune diseases, this one is caused by problems in your immune system. But the exact reason for it is unknown. Some factors do make you prone to Hashimoto syndrome.

Age and Gender

People between the ages of 30 and 50 usually suffer from it. Women are at seven times greater risk of getting this disease than men.

best food for hashimotos thyroiditis

Additional Read: Thyroid Antibodies: How to Lower TPO Antibodies?

Genes and Family History

If a family member has thyroid problems or other autoimmune diseases, you are more likely to get it.

Pre-Existing Autoimmune Diseases

You are at risk of it if you have pre-existing autoimmune conditions like:

Having Excessive Iodine

Iodine is essential as it helps in the production of thyroid hormones. But too much iodine may lead to thyroid disease in certain people.

Exposure to Radiation

Nuclear radiation and other toxins can put you at risk of Hashimotos diseases. Cases of the disease have been reported in people exposed to radiation, including the atomic bombs in Japan.

Hashimoto Disease Symptoms

You may often not experience any symptoms of this disease. If you do, they may relate to its complications such as goiter and hypothyroidism. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Pale, puffy face
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Slow heart rate
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Inability to feel warm
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Inability to tolerate cold
  • Problems with fertility
  • A feeling of fullness in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Hair loss, dry, thinning, brittle hair
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods

hashimotos thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosis

A doctor can carry out a biological examination to check for goiter and any additional glaring signs of hypothyroidism. The most common imaging examination they may conduct is an ultrasound of your thyroid gland. The ultrasound indicates the dimensions and impression of the thyroid. It also checks for any nodules or developments in your neck area. [4]

There are also various other diagnostic tests like the TSH test, which is the first step to examining the person’s serum TSH levels. High blood levels of serum TSH imply hypothyroidism. A high TSH level generally indicates that the thyroid gland is not producing sufficient T4 hormone. A low T4 level means that the person has hypothyroidism. The pituitary gland in the brain elicits TSH. Blood levels of TSH increase when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the T4 hormone, generally known as thyroxine hormone.

Other than that, tests for thyroid antibodies can mean Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Certain people with hypothyroidism do not have these antibodies. The presence of antibodies indicates a higher risk of developing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Your doctor will ask for your medical history and perform a physical test. They will also examine your thyroid gland for any signs of swelling. If doctors suspect any abnormalities, they may ask you to get an ultrasound. Apart from your medical history, physical exam, and ultrasound, doctors may also order some blood tests. The three main blood tests that help diagnose this condition are:

  • TSH test
  • antithyroid antibodies test
  • free T4 test

Complications Related to Hashimoto’s

If Hashimoto Thyroiditis is not treated as soon as it is detected, there is a high possibility of getting affected by several complications, some of which may be rather acute. They include:[6]

  • Higher cholesterol levels in the body
  • Increased chances of infertility
  • Loss of consciousness, brain functioning, and confusion
  • Decreased libido
  • Abnormalities during birth
  • Anemia Possibilities
  • Depression 
  • Cardiac issues, including heart failure

Hashimoto's thyroiditis can also induce complications during pregnancy. Studies have shown that women with this condition are more likely to give birth to infants with cardiac, mental, and renal infirmities. Therefore, eliminating these possibilities and monitoring thyroid function throughout pregnancy in women with thyroid problems is crucial.

The condition may also have links with Hashimoto’s encephalitis, i.e., a brain inflammation that results in disarray, seizures, and jerking of the muscles. Therefore, it is vital to keep in touch with your physician and get tested if any symptoms arise to avoid such circumstances.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Treatment

Although there is no cure for it, thyroid hormone replacement therapy is quite effective. If you have thyroiditis, replacing hormones with medication can help. It helps regulate hormone levels and restore metabolism. Your doctor may prescribe a synthetic version of thyroxine (T4). Doctors usually prescribe an oral medication called levothyroxine. Generally prescribed as pills, this medicine can be now availed in the form of liquid and a soft gel capsule. These new versions may help Hashimoto’s patients with digestive problems.

Your doctor may tell you to take levothyroxine in the morning. Have it 30 to 60 minutes before your breakfast. The exact dosage prescribed to you depends on various factors. These include your age, weight, existing health problems, medications, and severity of hypothyroidism. Some foods and supplements can affect how your body absorbs levothyroxine. They include coffee and multivitamins. So, it is best to take this on an empty stomach in the morning.[5]

Additional Read: What Increases Thyroid Levels

There is no proven way to prevent autoimmune disorders and inflammation that causes Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. But you can manage the condition with effective options. Seek medical help if you experience any symptoms. Book online consultation with a doctor on Bajaj Finserv Health to know more about hashimotos thyroiditis diseases. Here, you can also book lab tests including a thyroid antibodies test. So, make sure that you get medical advice and lab tests on time to prioritize your health.

Published on 17 Dec 2021Last updated on 7 Nov 2022
  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hashimotos-disease
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/goitre/
  4. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17665-hashimotos-disease
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266780#diet
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-thyroiditis-hashimotos-disease#complications

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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