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 to ensure you stay fit, well and happy.

In contrast Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid disease that is associated with abnormal amounts of thyroid-specific antibodies. These antibodies signify a silent immune attack on the fragile thyroid gland. Over time this autoimmune attack leads to thyroid dysfunction which triggers a spectrum of hypothyroid symptoms.

Research tells us Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries and women are the most affected. 

Importantly, you can have hypothyroidism that is not due to an autoimmune attack. There can be other reasons for thyroid dysfunction. However the best way to discover the root cause is with proper testing.

How Do You Diagnose Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Concerned about your thyroid health, or have you been told thyroid is NORMAL despite a long list of hypothyroid symptoms?

All too often individuals are told their thyroid is normal after only getting the single thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test done. In the conventional medical system the TSH test is regarded as the gold standard for checking thyroid health.

But one of the biggest problems with the stand alone TSH test is that it does not check anti-thyroid antibodies which you need to do to screen for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  

Proper Testing is Critical

It’s important to know the #1 sign your thyroid is under autoimmune attack is raised anti-thyroid antibodies.

Getting the right tests is therefore critical.

There are two specific tests that measure anti-thyroid antibodies and these blood tests should be done as part of a complete thyroid panel.

These are the two tests;

  1. Anti-thyroperoxidase (TPO) antibody test. Sometimes referred to as the TPO test, it’s the most common test for autoimmune thyroid disease. If your TPO antibodies are elevated this is often relied upon to confirm a Hashimoto’s diagnosis.
  2. Anti-thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) test. This should be done too as these antibodies target thyroglobulin, the protein precursor that’s stored in the thyroid cells. Thyroglobulin is used to form thyroid hormones.

You may hear a third antibody test discussed. The thyroid stimulating hormone receptor antibody (TRAb) test is ordered when an individual has hyperthyroidism.

Like to learn more?

> > I discuss in more detail the thyroid tests you should be getting here: The Top 5 Thyroid Tests? Discover The Best Tests To Discuss With Your Doctor.

In Summary

The diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is challenging as this is a complex autoimmune thyroid disorder. From my Naturopathic perspective I believe it really is possible to halt progression of the disease, even heal your thyroid naturally if you can identify, and then address the underlying root causes.


Kyritsi EM, Kanaka-Gantenbein C. Autoimmune Thyroid Disease in Specific Genetic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:543. Published 2020 Aug 19.

Mincer DL, Jialal I. Hashimoto Thyroiditis. [Updated 2020 Aug 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan. Available from:

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


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