Hashimoto's thyroiditis is not only the most common form of thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland) but also the most common thyroid disorder in America. The disease, which is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroiditis, affects 14 million people in the United States alone.1
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is named after the Japanese surgeon who discovered it in 1912. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means it occurs when immune cells attack healthy tissue instead of protecting it. In the case of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, immune cells mistakenly attack healthy thyroid tissue, causing inflammation of the thyroid. Autoimmune diseases affect women more than men, and women are 7 times more likely to have Hashimoto's thyroiditis.1.
When your thyroid gland comes under attack from malfunctioning immune cells, it impairs your thyroid's ability to make thyroid hormone. This can result in hypothyroidism. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
If Hashimoto's thyroiditis attacks your thyroid to the point that the gland can no longer produce enough thyroid hormones for your body to function properly, then you will develop hypothyroidism.
But hypothyroidism isn't the only complication associated with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In some people, the disorder causes the thyroid to become so inflamed and enlarged that a goiter develops.
For people who develop symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, such as hypothyroidism or goiter, thyroid hormone therapy is needed. You can read more about this treatment in our article about thyroid hormone replacement therapy.