Woman with Thyroid issue shown in pink

Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It occurs as a result of a person's immune system inappropriately attacking their thyroid gland. This autoimmune disease is more common in women and tends to run in families.

Symptoms of Hashimoto's disease typically develop slowly over time, as the thyroid gland becomes more damaged and less functional. Eventually, the deficiency in thyroid hormone production causes symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and/or cold sensitivity.

While not a curable disease, Hashimoto's disease is very treatable. In order to normalize thyroid hormone levels, most patients require lifelong treatment with a thyroid hormone replacement medication called levothyroxine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can Hashimoto’s disease be reversed?

    Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic condition that cannot be reversed or cured. The disease, however, can be effectively managed by restoring a patient’s thyroid hormone levels to normal. This almost always entails taking a medication called levothyroxine, which is the synthetic form of the thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine).

  • What does Hashimoto’s disease do to your body?

    Due to autoimmune-mediated damage to the thyroid gland, Hashimoto’s disease, over time, results in decreased thyroid hormone production. Since thyroid hormones regulate your body's metabolism, a hormone deficiency eventually results in symptoms of hypothyroidism (e.g., fatigue and feeling cold). Complications, like infertility and an increase in your “bad” cholesterol, may also occur.

  • What causes Hashimoto’s disease?

    Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition that develops when a person’s immune system misguidedly attacks their thyroid gland. A combination of one’s genetic makeup and being exposed to certain environmental factors (e.g., infection, stress, or excessive iodine intake) triggers the development of this thyroid disease.

Key Terms

Page Sources
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  1. American Thyroid Association. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

  2. Mathew V, Misgar RA, Ghosh S, et al. Myxedema coma: a new look into an old crisis. J Thyroid Res. 2011;2011:493462. doi:10.4061/2011/493462

  3. American Thyroid Association. Radioactive iodine.