The thyroid gland is the “master controller” of metabolism.
Who is at risk?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can affect any individual at any age, but mostly occurs in middle-aged women and people with a family history of thyroid disorders.1 Why the immune system attacks the thyroid gland is not yet known, but possible risk factors include viral or bacterial infection and having another autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes.2
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease
This disease can go unnoticed for a long time. In the course of the disease the thyroid gland can become exhausted, and you might develop hypothyroidism with symptoms such as:1,3
How Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is diagnosed
People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often present symptoms of hypothyroidism, sometimes accompanied by the finding of a goiter.3 Symptoms alone are not a reliable proof of this disease. Blood tests are needed to make a valid diagnosis. If you have high levels of TSH in the blood and low levels of free T4 (thyroxine circulating freely in the blood) you probably have hypothyroidism.4 Antibodies against thyroid peroxidase, an enzyme involved in the production of thyroid hormones, are usually elevated in cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.3
Treatment for the disease
If you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis your doctor will prescribe thyroxine replacement hormone to treat this condition.1 Most patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis will require lifelong treatment with the appropriate medication.3 Finding the appropriate dose, particularly at the beginning may require testing with TSH every 6-8 weeks after any dose adjustment, until the correct dose is determined. After that, monitoring of TSH once a year is generally sufficient.3
Patient information on thyroid health published by the American Thyroid Association.
Patient information from Thyroid Federation International.
Therapiegebiete/Endokrinologische Erkrankungen/Schilddrüse/Broschüren „Ihr Hashimoto Ratgeber“ und „Ihr Basedow Ratgeber”
Date of preparation: February 2022