Spotlight on Hashimoto’s Disease

Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Anna Simon, Ellen M. Martin

It took me 5 years and 12 specialists to be diagnosed with Celiac and Hashimoto’s. I want the next person to be diagnosed on the first doctor.

– anonymous patient participant in our Autoimmunity Voices survey.

Autoimmune disease is an “invisible epidemic.” Despite affecting roughly 16% of the US population, autoimmunity remains under-recognized, under-researched and under-served. To combat this lack of awareness, as well as to connect patients, families, and caregivers with useful resources, we at Your Autoimmunity Connection are publishing a series of “spotlights” on autoimmune diseases or other diseases that are closely linked to immune dysfunction.

This month, we shine our spotlight on Hashimoto’s Disease. Read on to become connected with available statistics, research initiatives, supportive patient communities, and more resources. And check out our Facebook page and forum for more autoimmune-related updates.

What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid (a gland deep in your neck that controls metabolism, or how your body uses energy). When the thyroid is damaged, it cannot make enough of key metabolic hormones (thyroid and parathyroid), leading to the impairment of many bodily functions. Symptoms include swelling in the neck and feelings of fullness in the throat due to an enlarged thyroid, fatigue, weight gain, joint and muscle pain, constipation, thinning hair, changes in menstruation, depression, slowed heart rate, and more. As with many autoimmune and chronic conditions, no two Hashimoto’s cases are exactly alike.

How is Hashimoto’s diagnosed?

Diagnosis is primarily done through blood tests. People with Hashimoto’s typically have antithyroid antibodies in their blood called thyroperoxidase antibodies (TPO). If these antibodies are not found, a thyroid ultrasound may be done to help determine other causes of symptoms.

How is Hashimoto’s treated?

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, is common in Hashimoto’s patients. If you have hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone replacement therapy is used, usually taken in the form of pills. An emerging understanding of alternative treatment approaches and the importance of lifestyle modifications has highlighted modified diet, supplements, and exercise as important factors that may moderate or even reverse symptoms, prevent flares, and complement or reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals.

What do the numbers show?

Current available statistics estimate that…

  • An estimated 5 in 100 people in the US suffer from Hashimoto’s.
  • Hashimoto’s most commonly develops in patients between the ages of 40 to 60.
  • Women are affected far more than men, with an average of 8 women for every 1 man.
  • You are more likely to develop the disease if you have another autoimmune disorder.

While the American Thyroid Association, along with other leading organizations, work toward reevaluating the current state of Hashimoto’s Disease and raising awareness, our team at Your Autoimmunity Connection is connecting patients with one another and with currently available resources.

Connecting you with resources

Brush up on the basics

While some of you may already have some background knowledge about Hashimoto’s, let’s take a moment to review the basics. The following pages provide a comprehensive overview of Hashimoto’s Disease:

For anyone affected – find your patient community

What’s happening in research?

  • Thyroid UK: Research Articles and Papers
    • Check out research from various journals along with summaries from each study.
  • EndocrineWeb: Thyroid Diseases News and Research
    • Browse their current news articles and research on thyroid diseases, as well as other endocrine disorders.
  • US National Library of Medicine: Hashimoto’s Clinical Trials
    • Explore this NIH database of clinical trials, including the status, conditions and interventions being tested, and location.

What is one thing everyone should know about Hashimoto’s?

When looking at the big picture, we must remember that Hashimoto’s Disease falls within the larger category of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases of which there are more than 100 individual diagnoses. In our research, we have found that 50 million Americans suffer from one or more autoimmune diseases. What’s more, a research study estimated that approximately 25% of patients with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases.¹

We hope our spotlight on Hashimoto’s Disease connects you with beneficial resources and information. We believe it is essential to take a holistic approach to combat the autoimmune disease epidemic. By looking at all autoimmune and similar diseases together, we can move away from the fragmented view that hides the magnitude of the problem and head toward concerted action in reshaping research, diagnosis, and treatment. Our model is based on the revolution in cancer research and treatment over the past 50 years, made possible by viewing cancer as a group of diseases with a common foundation, thus garnering far more resources than had been devoted to individual types of cancer. Help us bring this revolution to autoimmunity!

Get acquainted with Your Autoimmunity Connection

If you have Hashimoto’s, what kind of diet works best for you?

[1] Cojocaru, M, Inimioara Mihaela Cojocaru, and Isabela Silosi. “Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome.” Mædica 5.2 (2010): 132–134. Print.


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