The History of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

In 1912, a Japanese doctor named Hashimoto Hakaru described a disease that for hundreds of people, was misdiagnosed as depression, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, or fibromyalgia. But the disease wasn't any of these things. Instead, it was a type of thyroid disease that had never been described before, and was characterized by hypothyroidism symptoms, with bouts of hyperthyroidism symptoms. So one day, a person with this disease might have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone), and the next have symptoms of having too much thyroid hormone - hyperthyroidism.

Today, this disease is known for what it is: chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, or more commonly, Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease, after the doctor who first described it. Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease, in which the thyroid gland is gradually being attacked and destroyed by the immune system. This is why someone with Hashimoto's can have too much thyroid hormone one day, and not enough another day. This is also why Hashimoto's was, and mostly still is, so often misdiagnosed as another disease. A diagnosis is as easy as testing for thyroid antibodies in the blood stream.

Once a diagnosis is made, Hashimoto's thyroiditis is easily treated with thyroid hormone replacement, which can be synthetic, or can come from animals. This thyroid treatment must continue for the patient's entire life, but is as easy as taking a daily pill. If left untreated, this disease can cause muscle failure and even heart failure in some cases; if left untreated in children, Hashimoto's thyroiditis can disrupt growth, to the point where growth hormone therapy might be suggested. While most doctors can treat this disease, many people with the disease prefer to see a Hashimoto's doctor who specializes in autoimmune diseases and/or thyroid diseases.

The most common symptoms of Hashimoto's are:
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Panic Attacks
  • High Cholesterol
  • Constipation
  • Migraines
  • Memory loss
On their own, having one or even a few of these symptoms doesn't mean that you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. But when combined, they could indicate that there is a problem with your thyroid. So if you, or maybe someone you know is experiencing some of these symptoms, they should talk with a doctor as soon as possible, and specifically ask that he or she check your thyroid. This disease is not in your head. You can start feeling better today.

(Posted by Dr. Marc Ott at