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Hashimoto's Disease: What You Need to Know

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition that can affect the thyroid gland and cause it to shrink and not produce enough thyroid hormone. It’s the most common type of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, in adults. While there isn’t a cure for Hashimoto’s disease, you can manage its symptoms with medication and other treatments. Here are some basic facts about Hashimoto’s disease and how you can manage it.



What is Hashimoto’s disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small organ in your neck that produces hormones that regulate your metabolism and affect almost every organ in your body. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common type of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, in adults. The inflammation caused by Hashimoto’s disease can also lead to a goiter, or a swelling in the thyroid gland, and the inability of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone, which is why it’s called an autoimmune condition. People with Hashimoto’s disease often have high levels of certain antibodies in their blood, which can be used to diagnose it.



How is Hashimoto’s diagnosed?

A doctor can diagnose Hashimoto’s disease based on your symptoms and blood work results. Your doctor may order a thyroid test to see if your thyroid gland is underactive. You may also be tested for certain antibodies in your blood that can be a sign of Hashimoto’s disease. If your thyroid test is normal but you have some other signs of Hashimoto’s disease, your doctor may order the autoimmune panel test. This test looks for the presence of antibodies to many different types of autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s disease.


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Managing symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease

There are variety of ways to manage the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, including medications and eating a healthy diet. Medications. To replace the thyroid hormone your thyroid gland isn’t producing, your doctor may prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone. You may need to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life, though some symptoms may improve with time. Diet and lifestyle. Eating a good diet that is low in sugar is important for people with Hashimoto’s disease. The best diet can vary from person to person, so work with a dietitian to create a plan that works for you. You should also exercise regularly. Your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan that works best for you.


Nutrition and diet advice for people with Hashimoto’s disease

People with Hashimoto’s disease should consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Dairy products are often recommended for people with Hashimoto’s disease, but it can also depend on your personal health. Soy products, tofu, and tempeh are good sources of protein for people with Hashimoto’s disease. The following are some things you should avoid if you have Hashimoto’s disease: hot spices, caffeine, and alcohol. If you experience symptoms like diarrhea or intestinal cramps after consuming these, you should avoid them. If you have a gluten sensitivity, you should avoid gluten. If you have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where your body cannot tolerate gluten, you should avoid gluten completely.


Other treatment options for people with Hashimoto’s disease

Some people with Hashimoto’s disease find that treating the root cause of their condition helps to relieve their symptoms. Treating underlying conditions can improve your symptoms, as well as reduce your risk of further complications. Treating root causes of your condition may include: - Diet changes: Some people with Hashimoto’s disease benefit from a gluten-free diet, low in carbohydrates, or a different diet that is customized to their needs. - Medications: Corticosteroids, antiviral medications, and hydroxychloroquine may be helpful in some cases. - Surgery: This may be an option if you have a goiter that is causing complications or is difficult to control with medication.


Conclusion

Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition that can affect the thyroid gland and cause it to shrink and not produce enough thyroid hormone. While there isn’t a cure for Hashimoto’s disease, you can manage its symptoms with medication and other treatments. There are variety of ways to manage the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, including medications and a healthy diet. You should also avoid certain things if you have Hashimoto’s disease, like hot spices and alcohol. Some people with Hashimoto’s disease find that treating the root cause of their condition helps to relieve their symptoms.

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