Understanding Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Silent Autoimmune Disease

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Hashi is a serious thyroid-immune disorder.

First named in 1912 by the Japanese specialist Dr. Hashimoto Hakaru. Today, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Why Does The Immune System Attack The Thyroid?

An autoimmune thyroid disorder occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that directly target the thyroid. And that’s problematic as over time this immune attack sparks inflammation, even destruction of the fragile thyroid.

In this weakened state the thyroid struggles to function properly and ceases to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones.

This silent immune response is initiated by the presence of foreign compounds within the thyroid, or pathogens that have infiltrated the thyroid such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc. Gluten can also induce anti-thyroid antibodies.

Blood Tests To Diagnose Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Pathology tests are critical to diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disorder. There are two tests you need to know about and these should be done as part of a complete thyroid panel.

Anti-thyroperoxidase (TPO) antibody test.

Sometime referred to as the TPO test, it’s the most useful test. It’s also the test most commonly used to confirm a diagnosis.

Anti-thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) test.

These antibodies target thyroglobulin, the protein precursor that’s stored in the thyroid cells. Thyroglobulin is used to form thyroid hormones. A positive result is also used to make a diagnosis.

The TSH Test Won’t Measure Antibodies

It’s often the case that only one or two tests are used to screen for thyroid disease —> thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), or TSH plus thyroxine (T4).

Suspect Hashimoto’s?

It’s vital to get a comprehensive thyroid panel to properly evaluate thyroid health.

In fact, I can’t emphasis this enough if you are worried about your thyroid. When comprehensive testing is not done an autoimmune thyroid disorder is easily missed.

You are now wiser! Don’t accept everything is ‘NORMAL’ if your thyroid antibodies have not been checked.

In addition, make sure your doctor orders a thyroid ultrasound to check for any abnormalities within the gland.

Autoimmune Thyroiditis and Pregnancy

Proper thyroid function is particularly important for women who are pregnant, or who are considering having a baby. For women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis there is an increased risk of early miscarriage, or developing postpartum thyroiditis within the first year of having a baby.


Achieving optimal health is a journey, and we are all unique. For this reason it’s vital to work with a thyroid-literate healthcare practitioner who will consider all factors impacting on your health. In effect, you may need to look beyond the standard care for hypothyroidism.

The body is a complex system so a thyroid problem should not be viewed in isolation. This gland is part of an integrated whole-body system that requires healing.


Galofre JC, Davies TF. Autoimmune Thyroid Disease in Pregnancy: A Review. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Nov;18(11):1847-56. PubMed

Lerner A, Jeremias P, Matthias T. Gut-thyroid axis and celiac disease. Endocr Connect. 2017;6(4):R52–R58.

Rayman, MP. Multiple nutritional factors and thyroid disease, with particular reference to autoimmune thyroid disease. Proc Nutr Soc. 2019 Feb;78(1):34-44.

Saranac L, Zivanovic S, Bjelakovic B, et al. Why is the thyroid so prone to autoimmune disease? Horm Res Paediatr. 2011;75(3):157-65. PubMed

Soh SB, Aw TC. Laboratory Testing in Thyroid Conditions – Pitfalls and Clinical Utility. Ann Lab Med. 2019;39(1):3–14.

Tingi E, Syed AA, Kyriacou A, Mastorakos G, Kyriacou A. Benign thyroid disease in pregnancy: A state of the art review. J Clin Transl Endocrinol. 2016;6:37–49. Published 2016 Nov 23.

Tomer Y, Huber A. THE ETIOLOGY OF AUTOIMMUNE THYROID DISEASE: A STORY OF GENES AND ENVIRONMENT. Journal of autoimmunity. 2009;32(3-4):231-239.


  • What You Need To Know About Testing For Hashimoto’sYou may already know Hashimoto’s is not just a thyroid problem. It’s a complex autoimmune thyroid disorder that develops when the immune system launches a direct attack on the thyroid. This autoimmune attack triggers widespread inflammation and swelling within the…
  • What Causes Autoimmune Thyroid Disease?Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s and are now wondering what causes autoimmune thyroid disease? To start, let me say there’s no simple explanation. Autoimmune thyroid disorders develop for a range of reasons. Based on…
  • The Simple Tests That Reveal Thyroid-Immune DysfunctionThyroid-immune dysfunction occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that directly target the small butterfly-shaped thyroid. If you are concerned about your thyroid health I recommend you talk to your healthcare practitioner about getting tested to check for a possible…
  • Is There a Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease?Q. Is there is a difference between hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease? A. Firstly, it’s important to know hypothyroidism is a term used to describe an under active thyroid. It indicates the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones which are vital…

Recent Posts