Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(4):1054

See related article on thyroiditis.

What is Hashimoto's disease?

Hashimoto's disease is a problem of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland in your neck controls the way your body uses energy. When you have Hashimoto's disease, your thyroid gland doesn't work right.

What are the symptoms of Hashimoto's disease?

Many people with this problem have no symptoms. An ordinary blood test may just show a thyroid hormone imbalance. Because the thyroid gland may grow, you may have a feeling of fullness or tightness in your throat. You may have trouble swallowing food or liquids. You might have a swelling (a bump) in the front of your neck. Some people with Hashimoto's disease have symptoms such as tiredness, forgetfulness, depression, coarse dry skin, slow heartbeat, weight gain, constipation and intolerance to cold. A blood test can tell if your thyroid gland is underactive. Other blood tests can be done to look for Hashimoto's disease.

Who gets Hashimoto's disease?

Although Hashimoto's disease can affect people of all ages, it's most common in women in their 30s and 40s. If someone in your family has had thyroid disease, you may have an increased risk for Hashimoto's disease. No one is sure why people get Hashimoto's disease.

How is Hashimoto's disease treated?

Hashimoto's disease has no cure. However, your doctor can treat low thyroid function so you probably won't have any long-term effects.

Thyroid medicine can replace the hormone your thyroid gland usually makes. The amount of time you will need to take this medicine depends on the results of your blood tests. Thyroid hormone medicine causes no problems in most people.

Taking your thyroid medicine and having regular blood tests to see how your thyroid gland is working can help prevent symptoms like tiredness, weight gain and constipation.

Where can I get more information?

You can find out more about Hashimoto's disease from these organizations:

  • Thyroid Foundation of America, Inc.

  • 350 Ruth Sleeper Hall, RSL 350

  • 40 Parkman Street

  • Boston, MA 02114-2698

  • Telephone: 1-800-832-8321 or 1-617-726-8500

  • Web site:

  • National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

  • (NORD)

  • P.O. Box 8923

  • New Fairfield, CT 06812-8923

  • Telephone: 1-800-999-6673 (voicemail only)

  • or 1-203-746-6518

  • Web site:

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