Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common form of thyroid inflammation. This autoimmune disorder occurs when your body makes antibodies that destroy your thyroid cells, which reduces your thyroid's ability to make thyroid hormone. 

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common reason people develop hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland). A person with hypothyroidism must take thyroid hormone pills to keep the hormone level normal.

Symptoms of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

While each person may experience Hashimoto's thyroiditis differently, the most common symptoms include:

  • Goiter (benign enlargement of the thyroid gland, causing enlargement of the neck)
  • Symptoms of underactive thyroid gland, which include: 
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle weakness
    • Weight gain
    • Cold intolerance 
    • Depression
    • Hair and skin changes 

In some people, as the thyroid is attacked by antibodies, it may at first make too much thyroid hormone before making too little. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland may include: 

  • Heat intolerance
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety 

The symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis may resemble other conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

Causes of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis 

The cause of Hashimoto's thyroiditis is not known. But it is most likely a combination of the person's immune system and environmental factors. 

Diagnosing Hashimoto Thyroiditis

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for Hashimoto thyroiditis may include blood tests to check levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid antibodies.

Treatment for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

No treatment is needed for Hashimoto's thyroiditis if thyroid hormone levels are normal.
However, Hashimoto's thyroiditis usually results in hypothyroidism, which can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy (in the form of thyroid hormone pills). Thyroid hormone replacement therapy should eliminate symptoms of hypothyroidism and usually alleviates the goiter condition, when present. If the goiter does not improve and is causing other problems, such as pain or difficulty swallowing, breathing, or speaking, surgery to remove it may be required.

Why Choose Columbia

At Columbia University, our team of experts provides specialized management of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, personalizing the best available treatments to your needs. Treatment for Hashimoto's thyroiditis is often lifelong, so our doctors are skilled in helping you control symptoms with the least possible impact on your daily life and activities.