What's the Difference Between Hashimoto's Disease and Low Thyroid?

By: Our Team


The vast majority of patients who have low thyroid function also have the autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's. In fact, it is estimated the number may be as high as 90%, which demonstrates the clear link between the two conditions. 

Although they commonly occur together, Hashimoto's disease is not the same thing as low thyroid. 

Low thyroid or hypothyroidism means the thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormone for the body to function normally. Typically, it's detected when patients complain of symptoms associated with the condition. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy, so symptoms are usually indicative of processes within the body slowing down: constipation, fatigue, dry skin, depression, or weight gain. When low thyroid is suspected, physicians typically run a simple blood test that tests for thyroid hormone.

There are a several possible causes for low thyroid including surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland, radiation treatment, or a congenital condition. Autoimmune disease is another possible cause of low thyroid, especially in women. Hashimoto's disease is the most common type of autoimmune disease that results in low thyroid. 

Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease that involves an attack on the thyroid gland cells. 

The body's immune system that is designed to attack invading infections mistakes the thyroid as a threat. The attacked thyroid is unable to make enough thyroid hormone to meet the body's needs. Hashimoto's can start suddenly, or it may develop slowly over the course of many years. 

The symptoms of Hashimoto's disease are not the same as symptoms of low thyroid. Some patients have no symptoms at all; some have the condition known as a goiter, an enlarged thyroid. The condition known as low thyroid, or an inability of the thyroid to produce sufficient thyroid hormone, is another possible symptom of Hashimoto's that occurs as the thyroid is attacked. 

However, in some patients, hypothyroidism may occur, followed by the reverse condition known as hyperthyroidism. A patient may have symptoms of low thyroid such as constipation or weight gain, followed by a period plagued with completely different symptoms, like diarrhea or weight loss.

Understanding the difference between Hashimoto's disease and low thyroid is very important for patients...

...who want to make an educated choice about their health care. Hashimoto's is often left undetected by traditional medicine, even when patients fail to feel better after low thyroid therapy with medication. Even when it is detected, it is not always addressed properly. This may in part be due to the fact that there is no pharmaceutical solution for this autoimmune disease.

As a Hashimoto's patient, it is likely you will need to seek out care from an alternative health care provider outside traditional care options. Functional wellness practitioners are a good choice, as they are experienced in taking a comprehensive approach to health and well-being that includes effective, natural therapy options. These care providers can provide thyroid care that looks beyond 'symptoms' to the underlying cause of the problem—Hashimoto's disease.

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