Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Signs & Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

If you’ve found this article, chances are you’ve heard of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and are curious to know more. Or perhaps you’re experiencing some unusual health symptoms and are wondering if they might be related. Either way, you’re in the right place.

What Is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, often simply called Hashimoto’s, is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system mistakenly targets and damages your thyroid gland. This small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck plays a pivotal role in regulating numerous metabolic processes throughout your body. When it’s under attack, as in the case of Hashimoto’s, it can lead to a slew of health issues. (Source)

Why Should You Care About Its Signs and Symptoms?

Recognizing the signs (those changes others can see) and symptoms (what you personally feel) of Hashimoto’s is crucial. Early detection can make a world of difference in managing the condition and preventing potential complications. Plus, understanding what’s happening in your body can be empowering, helping you make informed decisions about your health. (Source)

Our goal here at WellTheory is to provide you with reliable and evidence-based information about autoimmune care. This article aims to shed light on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, emphasizing its signs and symptoms, all backed by current medical research. Whether you’re just starting your autoimmune journey or are well into it, we’re here to support you every step of the way. 

Who Is Affected by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

While Hashimoto’s can affect anyone, certain demographics are more susceptible.

  • gender: Women are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s than men. 
  • age: While it can strike at any age, it’s most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged adults, typically between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • family history: If autoimmune diseases run in your family, you might be at higher risk.

However, it's essential to remember that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can develop this condition. (Source)

Signs vs. Symptoms: What’s the Difference?

You might hear the terms “signs” and “symptoms” used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same.

  • Signs are what health care professionals observe during an examination or through tests. For instance, an enlarged thyroid or specific changes in blood tests can be signs of Hashimoto’s.
  • Symptoms, on the other hand, are what you, the patient, experience and describe. This could be fatigue, muscle aches, or feeling cold all the time.

Understanding this distinction will help you communicate more effectively with your health care team and ensure you get the care you need. (Source, Source)

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Let’s dive right into the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Understanding these can help you recognize the condition early on and seek the right care.

Endocrine and Metabolic Disturbances

One of the key areas affected is the endocrine system, specifically your thyroid gland. Let’s break down what this means for you.

The Thyroid’s Role in Metabolism

Your thyroid is like the control center for your metabolism. It produces hormones that regulate how your body uses energy, affecting almost every organ in your body. Hashimoto’s disrupts this balance, leading to various endocrine and metabolic disturbances. (Source)

Signs You Might Notice

  • enlarged thyroid (goiter): This is often one of the first noticeable signs. Your neck might appear swollen, or your health care provider might feel an enlargement during a routine check-up.
  • slowed heart rate: A less active thyroid can slow down your heart rate, a sign you might not notice but that is often picked up during medical examinations.
  • weight gain: Despite maintaining your usual diet and exercise routine, you might find those numbers on the scale creeping up.

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • fatigue and sluggishness: Feeling constantly tired or lacking the energy you once had? This is a common symptom many people with Hashimoto’s report. 
  • sensitivity to cold: If you’re always reaching for a sweater, even when others feel warm, it might be due to your thyroid not producing enough hormones.
  • constipation: A slowed metabolism can also slow down your digestive system, leading to constipation.

(Source, Source)

Neuropsychiatric Effects

While we tend to focus on the physical signs and symptoms of thyroid issues, it’s essential to recognize the profound effects they can have on your mental well-being.

The Brain–Thyroid Connection

Your brain and thyroid share a deep connection. The thyroid produces hormones that play a pivotal role in regulating mood, energy, and overall brain function. When Hashimoto’s disrupts this hormone production, it can ripple into various neuropsychiatric effects. (Source)

Signs You Might Notice

  • slowed cognitive function: This isn’t about the occasional forgetfulness we all experience. People with Hashimoto’s might notice a consistent decline in their cognitive abilities, which can be objectively measured through specific tests.

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • depression: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or a lack of interest in activities you once loved can be linked to Hashimoto’s. It's not just “feeling blue” — it’s a profound change in mood and outlook.
  • anxiety: Experiencing constant worry, restlessness, or even panic attacks? These can be symptoms of Hashimoto’s effect on your brain.
  • memory lapses or brain fog: Ever walked into a room and forgotten why? Or struggled to recall a familiar name? This “brain fog” is a common symptom many with Hashimoto’s describe.

Dermatological Manifestations

Let’s talk skin, hair, and nails. While Hashimoto’s thyroiditis primarily affects the thyroid, it can also affect your skin. It’s fascinating (and a bit surprising) how interconnected your body systems are!

The Skin’s Response to Thyroid Imbalances

Your skin, your body’s largest organ, is incredibly sensitive to changes in your internal environment. The hormones produced by the thyroid play a role in keeping your skin healthy and vibrant, and Hashimoto’s reduction of these hormones can lead to skin problems. (Source)

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • pale, dry skin: If your skin feels drier than usual or has lost its usual color, it might be due to decreased thyroid hormone production.
  • puffy face: Waking up with a swollen face, especially around the eyes, can be a sign of Hashimoto’s. It’s not just about missing out on beauty sleep; it’s your body’s way of signaling an imbalance.
  • hair thinning or loss: Noticing more hair on your brush or in the shower drain? A disrupted thyroid can affect hair growth cycles, leading to thinning or even loss of hair.
  • brittle nails: If your nails are chipping or breaking more easily, it might be more than just a bad manicure. Brittle nails can be a symptom of Hashimoto’s.

Cardiovascular Implications

Let’s shift gears and discuss something that might not immediately come to mind when thinking about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: its effect on heart health. 

The Heart-Thyroid Connection

The cardiovascular system, in particular, bears the brunt of the hormonal imbalances caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The thyroid gland is much like a conductor, with the hormones it produces akin to the rhythm guiding the orchestra of our bodies. When this rhythm is disrupted, it can have direct and indirect effects on the heart’s function. (Source)

Signs to Observe

  • elevated cholesterol levels: One of the indirect effects of Hashimoto’s on the heart is through cholesterol. A sluggish thyroid can lead to increased cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • reduced heart rate: Known medically as bradycardia, this can be one of the earliest signs of Hashimoto’s. The thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) typically regulates the pace of your heartbeats. However, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis hinders its production, leading to a slower heart rate.
  • increased blood pressure: The underproduction of thyroid hormones has been linked to a stiffening of blood vessel walls. This can result in the heart working harder to pump blood, subsequently causing increased blood pressure. (Source)

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • shortness of breath: If you find yourself gasping for air after minimal exertion or even at rest, it might be related to Hashimoto’s effect on your cardiovascular system.

  • palpitations: These are feelings of a rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat. They result from the heart trying to compensate for the diminished hormone levels by working harder and faster.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

You might be surprised to learn that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can influence your digestive system. Let’s break down how the thyroid plays a role in digestion and what symptoms you might notice.

The Thyroid’s Role in Digestion

The thyroid gland produces hormones crucial for metabolism and digestion, including the production of gastric acid. This acid breaks down food for efficient nutrient absorption. When the thyroid underperforms, gastric acid production is affected, leading to digestive issues. (Source)

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • constipation: A decrease in thyroid hormone production can slow down your digestive system. If you’re finding it harder to have regular bowel movements or they seem less frequent than usual, it might be linked to Hashimoto’s.
  • bloating: Feeling like your stomach is swollen or full of gas after eating? This bloating can be another symptom of Hashimoto’s effect on your digestive system. 

Musculoskeletal Symptoms

While the thyroid might seem far removed from your musculoskeletal system, the two are more connected than you might think, and Hashimoto’s could affect your muscles and joints.

Musculoskeletal Symptoms 

From the body’s scaffolding of bones to the intricate network of muscles and joints, the musculoskeletal system doesn't escape the reach of the autoimmune response in Hashimoto’s. The immune system, deceived by its own cells, can attack the connective tissue — a vital component of the musculoskeletal system — leading to muscle and joint symptoms. (Source, Source)

Signs You Might Notice

  • joint swelling: If you notice swelling in your joints, especially in the hands and knees, it might be a sign of Hashimoto’s. This swelling can sometimes be accompanied by redness or warmth.

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • muscle aches and tenderness: Feeling like you’ve done a heavy workout even when you haven’t? Muscle aches and tenderness can be symptoms of Hashimoto’s.

  • joint pain: Experiencing pain in your joints, especially upon waking up or after periods of inactivity? This can be another indication of Hashimoto’s effect on your musculoskeletal system.

  • slowed reflexes: Hashimoto’s can affect the nerves controlling your muscles, leading to slowed reflex responses.

Ocular Manifestations

Did you know that Hashimoto's Thyroiditis can also affect your eyes? It's a connection that might seem a bit unexpected, but the thyroid plays a role in eye health.

Eyes and Thyroid Health

Thyroid hormones regulate the growth and differentiation of cells in the eye. When there’s an imbalance in these hormones, as seen in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it can lead to eye complications. So, next time you experience persistent eye issues, remember the thyroid–eyes connection and seek medical advice. (Source, Source)

Signs You Might Notice

  • swelling around the eyes: If you notice puffiness or swelling around your eyes, especially upon waking up, it might be a sign of Hashimoto’s.
  • protruding eyes: In rare cases, Hashimoto’s can cause the eyes to bulge or protrude. It’s essential to consult with a health care professional if you observe this.

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • dry or gritty eyes: Feeling like there’s always something in your eye, or experiencing persistent dryness? This can be a symptom of Hashimoto’s.
  • blurred vision: If objects seem out of focus or you’re having difficulty seeing clearly, it might be related to Hashimoto’s effect on your ocular health.
  • sensitivity to light: Some patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis report increased sensitivity to light, a condition known as photophobia.

These symptoms are not always immediately associated with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and they can mimic other eye conditions. However, if these symptoms persist and are coupled with fatigue, unexplained weight gain, or feeling cold all the time, they might be indicative of this autoimmune condition. 

Reproductive Health

When Hashimoto’s strikes, it can lead to various reproductive health challenges.

Thyroid’s Influence on Reproductive Health

The thyroid produces hormones that play a crucial role in regulating your reproductive system. From menstrual cycles to fertility, the thyroid’s hormones are intertwined with reproductive health. (Source)

Signs You Might Notice

  • menstrual irregularities: If you’ve noticed changes in your menstrual cycle, such as it becoming irregular or heavier than usual, it might be a sign of Hashimoto’s influence.
  • pregnancy complications:  Complications may include preterm birth, low birth weight, and even increased risk of miscarriage.
  • postpartum thyroiditis: Characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland after pregnancy, postpartum thyroiditis can lead to temporary hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) followed by hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone). 

Symptoms You Might Experience

  • fertility issues: Struggling to conceive? Hashimoto’s can sometimes be a contributing factor, affecting ovulation and overall fertility.

  • libido changes: Experiencing a decrease in sexual desire? Changes in thyroid hormone levels can influence libido. 

Dispelling Myths about Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

As with many health conditions, there are myths and misconceptions surrounding Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. These myths can sometimes lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and even delays in seeking appropriate care. Let’s debunk some of the most common myths about Hashimoto’s.

Myth: Only Women Get Hashimoto’s

Truth: While it’s true that women are more frequently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, men can and do get it too. Everyone, regardless of gender and age, should be aware of the signs and symptoms and seek medical advice if they suspect they have the condition. (Source)

Myth: Hashimoto’s Is Just a Thyroid Problem

Truth: Hashimoto’s primarily affects the thyroid, but its effects can be felt throughout the body. Hashimoto’s influence is widespread, from digestive issues to reproductive health challenges. It’s not just a “thyroid problem” — it’s a systemic issue. (Source)

Myth: Diet Has No Role in Managing Hashimoto’s

Truth: Diet plays a significant role in managing Hashimoto’s. Certain foods and nutrients can support thyroid function and reduce inflammation, while others might exacerbate symptoms. It’s always a good idea to consult with a health care professional about dietary changes that can support your health journey with Hashimoto’s. (Source, Source)

The Importance of Early Recognition of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Just as with other health conditions, the sooner Hashimoto’s is diagnosed, the better the outcomes tend to be. But why is that?

An early diagnosis allows for timely intervention, which can:

  1. prevent progression: By starting treatment early, you can potentially slow down or halt the progression of the disease.
  2. reduce symptoms: Early treatment can help manage and reduce the severity of symptoms, improving your quality of life.
  3. minimize complications: With timely care, you can decrease the risk of developing associated complications such as goiter, heart problems, mental health issues and more.

The Role of Integrative Care in Managing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Living with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can often feel like navigating uncharted waters, particularly when traditional medical approaches only seem to address symptoms, rather than root causes. Fortunately, there is a way to delve deeper into your wellness journey, which comes with integrative care.

Why Choose Integrative Care 

Integrative care is a holistic, patient-focused approach to health and well-being that takes into account the whole person and not just an isolated set of symptoms. This approach offers numerous benefits in managing chronic conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: 

  • holistic recovery: Integrative care goes beyond simply mitigating physical symptoms. It dives deep into the root cause of your condition while nurturing your emotional and mental well-being.
  • personalized care: Just as each person is unique, each care plan should be, too. Integrative care ensures that your individual needs and circumstances are at the forefront of your recovery journey.
  • collaborative care: Rather than a single care provider, imagine having a team of diverse health care experts, each bringing their unique expertise to your care — that’s the integrative approach.
  • better self-management: Knowledge is power. Integrative care provides the tools and knowledge you need to actively participate in managing your health.

One platform where you can experience these benefits is WellTheory. As a leading autoimmune care provider, WellTheory offers a comprehensive and personalized approach to managing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, among other chronic conditions. 

The WellTheory Advantage 

At WellTheory, we understand that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis isn’t merely a medical condition — it’s a part of your life that needs a thoughtful, comprehensive approach. In conjunction with medical therapies you may be receiving, we offer supportive resources — from nutrition guidance to mind-body therapies — that can help enhance your overall well-being. 

How WellTheory Can Assist With Your Healing

In overcoming Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the journey matters as much as the destination. At WellTheory, we’re committed to walking that journey with you, every step of the way. Our platform specializes in modern, integrated autoimmune care, emphasizing evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle coaching. Our approach includes:

  • a care team that understands: Our team has firsthand experience with autoimmune conditions, ensuring a deeper understanding and empathy toward your situation.
  • care tailored to your goals and needs: We understand that every individual’s journey is unique. Our care is tailored to your specific needs and challenges.
  • daily guidance and collaboration: We’re with you every day, helping you navigate the complexities of autoimmune conditions.
  • care plans that are evidence-based and data-driven: Our strategies are rooted in scientific research, ensuring you get the best advice and guidance.

The Bottom Line

Understanding the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s is more than just knowledge. You are empowered to recognize what’s happening in your body and seek the right care at the right time.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s, seeking appropriate care and support is essential. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Many resources and communities are available to help, including platforms like WellTheory.


Antonelli, A., Ferrari, S. M., Corrado, A., Di Domenicantonio, A., & Fallahi, P. (2015). Autoimmune thyroid disorders. Autoimmunity Reviews, 14(2), 174–180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2014.10.016

Bernadi, S., Grillo, A., Antonello, R. M., Cola, M. F., Dobrinja, C., Fabris, B., & Giudici, F. (2022). Meta-analysis of the association between thyroid hormone disorders and arterial stiffness. Journal of the Endocrine Society, 6(4), bvac016. https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvac016

Biondi, B., Klein, I. (2004). Hypothyroidism as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Endocrine, 24, 1–13 https://doi.org/10.1385/ENDO:24:1:001

Bothun, E. D., & Scheurer, R. A. (2019). Ocular manifestations of thyroid disease. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, 30(5), 401–406. https://doi.org/10.1097/ICU.0000000000000592

Cellini, M., Santaguida, M. G., Virili, C., Capriello, S., Brusca, N., Gargano, L., & Centanni, M. (2017). Hashimoto's thyroiditis and autoimmune gastritis. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 8, 92. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2017.00092

Chaker, L., Bianco, A. C., Jonklaas, J., & Peeters, R. P. (2017). Hypothyroidism. Lancet, 390(10101), 1550–1562. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30703-1

Danailova, Y., Velikova, T., Nikolaev, G., Mitova, Z., Shinkov, A., Gagov, H., & Konakchieva, R. (2022). Nutritional management of thyroiditis of Hashimoto. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(9), 5144. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23095144

Duyff, R. F., Van den Bosch, J., Laman, D. M., van Loon, B. J., & Linssen, W. H. (2000). Neuromuscular findings in thyroid dysfunction: a prospective clinical and electrodiagnostic study. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 68(6), 750–755. https://doi.org/10.1136/jnnp.68.6.750

Jordan, B., Uer, O., Buchholz, T., Spens, A., & Zierz, S. (2021). Physical fatigability and muscle pain in patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis. Journal of Neurology, 268(7), 2441–2449. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-020-10394-5

Kahaly, G. J., Diana, T., Glang, J., Kanitz, M., Pitz, S., & König, J., (2016). Thyroid stimulating antibodies are highly prevalent in Hashimoto's thyroiditis and associated orbitopathy, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 101(5), 1998–2004. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2016-1220

Klubo-Gwiezdzinska, J., & Wartofsky, L. (2022). Hashimoto thyroiditis: An evidence-based guide to etiology, diagnosis and treatment. Polish Archives of Internal Medicine, 132(3), 16222. https://doi.org/10.20452/pamw.16222

Krassas, G. E., Poppe, K., & Glinoer, D. (2010). Thyroid function and human reproductive health. Endocrine Reviews, 31(5), 702–755. https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2009-0041

Krysiak, R., Szkróbka, W., & Okopień, B. (2019). The effect of gluten-free diet on thyroid autoimmunity in drug-naïve women with Hashimoto's thyroiditis: A pilot study. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 127(07), 417–422. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-0653-7108

Kuruvilla, M. (2021, November 22). Are symptoms and signs the same? GoodRx Health. https://www.goodrx.com/healthcare-access/medication-education/signs-vs-symptoms

Leyhe, T., & Müssig, K. (2014). Cognitive and affective dysfunctions in autoimmune thyroiditis. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 41, 261–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2014.03.008

Manji, N., Carr-Smith, J. D., Boelaert, K., Allahabadia, A., Armitage, M., Chatterjee, V. K., Lazarus, J. H., Pearce, S. H. S., Vaidya, B., Gough, S. C., & Franklyn, J. A. (2006). Influences of age, gender, smoking, and family history on autoimmune thyroid disease phenotype. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 91(12), 4873–4880. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2006-1402

Mikulska, A. A., Karaźniewicz-Łada, M., Filipowicz, D., Ruchała, M., & Główka, F. K. (2022). Metabolic characteristics of Hashimoto's thyroiditis patients and the role of microelements and diet in the disease management—An overview. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23(12), 6580. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23126580

Mincer, D. L., & Jialal, I. (2023). Hashimoto thyroiditis. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved September 18, 2023, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gof/books/NBK459262/

Muller, R., Liu, Y.-Y, & Brent, G. A. (2014). Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism. Physiological Reviews, 94(2), 355–382. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00030.2013

Ragusa, F., Fallahi, P., Elia, G., Gonnella, D., Paparo, S. R., Giusti, C., Churilov, L. P., Ferrari, S. M., & Antonelli, A. (2019). Hashimotos’ thyroiditis: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinic and therapy. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 33(6), 101367. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beem.2019.101367

Safer, J. D. (2011). Thyroid hormone action on skin. Dermato-Endocrinology, 3(3), 211–215. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3219173/

Sawicka-Gutaj, N., Ziółkowska, P., Wojciechowska, Shawkat, K. S., Czarnywojtek, A., Warchoł, W., Sowiński, J., Szczepanek-Parulska, E., & Ruchała, M. (2021). Eye symptoms in patients with benign thyroid diseases. Scientific Reports, 11, 18706. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-98232-0

Yuan, J., Qi, S., Zhang, X., Lai, H., Li, X., Xiaoheng, C., Li, Z., Yao, S., & Ding, Z. (2023). Local symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis: A systematic review. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 13, 1076793. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2022.1076793