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Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Disease

Updated on September 18, 2017
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

More and more people are beginning to hear of Hashimoto’s disease (or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). I know that the first time I heard it I couldn’t even pronounce it right. What I didn’t know then was that I was going to get very familiar with Hashimoto.

In 1999 my mother announced that she had a condition called Hashimoto’s disease. No one knew what it was except that it affected the thyroid. In the wide-scheme of things, it affects the entire body.

The thyroid is an extremely small gland at the base of your throat that is shaped like a butterfly. Though small it is one of the largest of the endocrine glands in the human body. It interacts with the liver, kidneys, and spleen and affects the metabolism. A small organ that carries huge power in both men and women.

With Hashimoto’s disease the thyroid begins to generate excess hormones that begin to attack the thyroid itself and all the other organs of the body. Like all other autoimmune diseases it begins an attack of the body instead of foreign invaders. It starts off really subtle and might not even be noticed for years after the disease is activated.

This is not a new disease. It has been around for centuries but was only recognized as a condition by itself in 1912 by a Japanese pathologist, Hakaru Hashimoto. He began to recognize symptoms that went beyond other conditions and over time discovered the actual damage that it does by excessive hormones. The hormones basically kill the thyroid as it attacks itself. Then it become known as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

If you look at the list of autoimmune diseases (100 and still counting) and their symptoms, you’ll find that many have these symptoms. Being tired does not mean that you have a disease. We get tired from working 40 hours, raising a family, and running here and there. Gaining weight does not necessarily mean you are sick. You more than likely eat too many potato chips and watch too much TV (guilty!). But a combination of these over a period of time leads doctors to investigate further.


A list of the symptoms will go something like this:

· Fatigue

· Exhaustion

· Hair loss

· Sensitivity to cold

· Constipation

· Panic attacks

· Pale skin, dry skin

· Memory loss/forgetfulness

· Muscles aches and pains

· Depression

· Excessive or prolonged periods

· Weight gain

· Voice loss/hoarseness

How many of you are ready to run to the doctor? Fatigue we have daily. Hair loss might be happening because we are older or if we have kids. Memory loss could be because we have too much on our plate. We could keep on going.

When I first went to the doctor, they chided me for not coming in earlier.

“Do you have fatigue?” “Yes.” “How long?” “About a year.” “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” “I just had a baby two months ago.”

“Do you have hair loss?” “Yes.” “How long?” “About a year.” “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” “I just had a baby two months ago.”

“Do you have weight gain?” “Yes.” “How long?” “About a year.” “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” “I just had a baby two months ago.”

“Do you have depression?” “Yes.” “How long?” “About a year.” “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” “I just had a baby two months ago.”

I just had a baby!!!!!!! Those symptoms are normal. I would not have gone into the doctor for a few more months if my allergist had not felt a lump in my throat. I had just had a physical the week before and nothing was there. In a week it had developed. Hashimoto’s is a slow progressing disease normally. Due to my pregnancy hormones and the stress I was under (my father was dying and a dear friend had just passed away), it had sent the disease into overdrive.

My Experience

Blood work was done. A radioactive x-ray procedure was done to show the size of the lump. At the time of the test it was only on the left-hand size and was the size of an olive. They scheduled surgery in less than two months.

By the time the surgery rolled around, I had trouble swallowing, my voice was almost gone, and turning my head from side to side was getting difficult. You could see the goiter (lump) in my throat. It was now about the size of a golf ball.

Pathology confirmed Hashimoto’s disease. It had become aggressive and when they went to take it out, it had spread to the other side of the thyroid (so then they had to take both halves out) and had attached itself to my esophagus. It had also swallowed the parathyroid glands which are crucial in calcium and phosphorus levels of your body.

What we found out then changed the life of my entire family. What my mother’s doctor had neglected to tell her was that the disease was hereditary. Research had shown that if you had the disease it was extremely likely that your children would have the gene also. Having the gene does not mean that you have the disease but it does mean that it can be passed on. In fact, women are more likely to show signs of the disease than men. When the fact was told to us about others in the family having it, the women all went for testing. My niece has it and had surgery also since hers was very progressed by the time they found it. My aunt has not been diagnosed with it. My sister has it also. Everyone else gets tested regularly to catch it early. My own children are tested every year at their physical to ensure that they will only have to take a small pill every day instead of having to deal with much more.

Do not ignore the symptoms above if you have them over a long period of time and if you have more than a handful of them. It doesn’t hurt to see the doctor and do a blood draw. It could save your life.


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    • Colleen Diemer profile image

      Colleen Diemer 2 years ago from Florida

      Would love to know what happened to Samantha. This is a great Hub. I started feeling symptoms when I was 10 but never was diagnosed until I was about 40. So many Drs just made me worse. It is a tough battle. I always knew I would find the truth. Doing well now.

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      Great Hub on this disorder. I think you are giving some very helpful information. I have had my thyroid removed and so did my mother. Although we do not have Hashimotos, we have had to deal with keeping thyroid hormone levels correct. My goiter was actually almost 4 inches wide although it did not cause me breathing problems. Even though it was noticeable, I am not completely sure I'm glad I had it out since keeping my thyroid regulated has been harder than before and the surgery did damage my vocal cords. I do wish I'd known more about life after surgery so I could have assessed this better.

    • profile image

      Pete 5 years ago

      Your x-ray on this page is actually a c-spine radiograph that is hung upside down. The base of the skull needs to be at the top.

    • profile image

      Nick 6 years ago

      Are any of you familiar with the book: Why do I still have thyroid symptoms? When my lab tests are normal. By Datis Kharrazian. I have taken his mastering the thyroid seminar, and from reading your comments, and I feel that this book would explain what is going on with you and why your treatments are not fully addressing the cause of your problems.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Lee, I would appreciate it if name calling is not used here. This is a site where people can come together in respect.

    • profile image

      lee 6 years ago

      no theres not samantha,,, not that i know you but you seem pretty stupid!

    • profile image

      Samantha 6 years ago

      and there are thousands of antibodies :)

    • profile image

      Samantha 6 years ago

      well i spoke to my doctor and my thyroid is 19.8 but has now gone up to 22.7 im only 14 and im on 100ml of these tablets and a number of other anti depresents and my stomach pains are just getting worse and worse my mum and dad just say give it time with the stomach pains to go away but i just feel so tired like im always in a dream! i cant describe the pain of weather they are stomach aches or cramps but they feel like someone is burning the inside of my stomach but its quite high up. thankyou for replying to my messages you are really helping me with this whole situation x

    • profile image

      Kerry 6 years ago

      My thyroid levels were border line normal / high 4.25 but my antibodies were 862. Does anybody know if this is high???? thanks

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      I'm not sure about the stomach problem, samantha, but the depression is a big part of it. Talk to your doctor. As the levels of your thyroid hormones level out, your depression should go away.

    • profile image

      samantha 6 years ago

      i recently got diognosed as having this exact problem is this bad when im only 14 but i really badly suffer from depression and pain in the higher part of my stomach i don't understand whAT this all means could you help? thanks x

    • profile image

      Anne M 6 years ago

      I have multiple cysts on my thyroid and I have been battleting hypothyrodism for several years which goes from hypo to hyper. My endochronologist indicated that I have Hashimoto Thyroditist. However, my antibody blood test reveals that it is within the normal range, so my question is: Can an autoimmune disease fail to show up on an antibody blood test?

    • profile image

      Danny J 7 years ago

      You never realise what someone is going through until you also have the same problem. Is like that with just about anything in life, isn't it?

      A good friend of mine has Hashimoto's/hypothyroidism and he always "complains" about it...

      So I decided to read up a bit and try to understand what he is going through.

      Good luck everyone - know if sounds "hollow"... :-/

    • profile image

      Kristal 7 years ago

      I just got diagnosed with Hashimoto's/hypothyroidism at the end of august and im 23 yrs. old. I had every symptom however i went to the ER because of the Goiter on my neck (that i didn't know was that at the time) was cutting off my air ways. The right side was 8mm and was very noticeable. They said my thyroid pretty much quit working. now i go for a Needle aspiration byopsy because they found a nodule on one side. Ive been on 125mg of levothyroxine and my levels are now at .27. Im trying to research as much as i can on this topic.

    • profile image 7 years ago

      until your TSH is abnormal doctors will likely do nothing, so to elevate your TSH and get some further testing take iodine supplements 100micrograms is enough, which is half your daily intake. This will move your TSH beyond normal range so you get some action, stop taking it after your appt. with the doctor. This worked for me and its the only reason they looked into it, and don't just let them give you pills, tell them Hashimotos runs in your family even if it doesn't. I know lying is not a good thing but this is your health and doctors could care less about you. So take it into your own hands. Goodluck

    • profile image

      katiee 7 years ago

      I have had hashimoto since i was about 6 years old. I have lived with it for many years now. You can definitely tell that its there, But they wont do any surgeries or give me any medication's because like a couple of you, They just want to update on it just to make sure nothing is Really wrong with it. My level's are also normal and test's didn't prove anything to the dr's. Just the tumor its self was just enough example.. If you want, I went to a second oppinion and it really helped out.

    • profile image

      Janine 8 years ago

      BEWARE!!!! If you think that all it takes to maintain Hashi's is taking your pill everyday, you are in for a big shock. If all your doctor is looking at is your TSH levels and not your free T3 and Free T4, cortisol levels and a few other things, you can expect a lot more headaches down the road. Hashi's is an autoimmune disease. what this means is that every time your body has an episode that attacks your thyroid, it will make your levels change. The thyroid hormone does NOT stop the problem that made your body attack the thyroid in the first place. I urge you to go to the website Stop the Thyroid Madness. It is also a group on facebook

    • profile image

      sbmeyer 8 years ago

      For the past 8 years I had been complaining to my dr with all the above symptoms. He ordered tests annually, they always came back normal. For other reasons, he finally ordered an ultra sound of my neck last November. Long story short, I had Hashimotos and thyroid cancer. 3 months ago I had my thyroid removed. The surgeon said I probably have had Hashimotos for years! It turns out my dr had never ordered a test to check for the antibodies !!

      My daughter had been complaining for 6 - 7 years with the same above symptoms. before I was diagnosed, she had seen a specialist who told her she was fine and all she needed was more sleep, and not to worry, she was not obese yet ! Well, after I was diagnosed and had surgery, I had my daughter see "MY NEW DOCTOR", who ran the tests on her. It turns out she has Hashimotos too ! If the "specialist" had checked the antibody levels on my daughter, she would have been diagnosed before I was.

      It turns out, most doctors only test the T4 and TSH levels, not the antibodies. Word of advise to all of those who have the above symptoms and their test results seem normal, ask for your antibody levels to be tested. GOOD LUCK TO ALL

    • dianacharles profile image

      dianacharles 8 years ago from India

      My throat looks like I have a thyroid problem and I have been sent for a number tests....each time they come out negative. Oddly enough, I have most of those symptoms. Great hub.

    • RiaMorrison profile image

      Ria Bridges 8 years ago from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

      I have just about every one of those symptoms, and have had them for years. Most doctors don't pay them much mind, since over half of them can be explained by less-than-restful sleep caused by me being overweight, so before anything else gets considered, I have to lose some pounds. Fortunately I actually have a decent doctor now who will check up on my concerns, and because my father has a thyroid condition, that will sometimes get added to any blood tests I get, just in case.

      Very excellent Hub, and very useful early intervention information! Keep it up!