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Hashimoto's Disease

Your thyroid produces important hormones that regulate how your body functions. We’re here to keep it working properly, so you can feel your best.

What is the thyroid?

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your throat that produces important hormones. These hormones travel all over your body to regulate functions including your heart rate, breathing, muscle strength, body temperature, body weight, cholesterol and your central nervous system.

Thyroid hormone levels are controlled by a feedback loop between the thyroid and two glands in your brain called the hypothalamus and the pituitary. The hypothalamus and pituitary monitor levels of thyroid hormones in the blood and tell your thyroid to make more or less of them. The two key thyroid hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy are:

  • Thyroxine, also known as T4
  • Triiodothyronine, known as T3

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Our specialists are trained in thyroid care. Schedule a consultation today.

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What is Hashimoto’s disease? 

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is a common autoimmune condition that causes hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. 

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s can include:

  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Unintentional weight gain
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in mood
  • Puffy face

Risk factors for Hashimoto’s

There are certain behaviors, genetics and risk factors that can increase your chance of developing Hashimoto’s, including:

  • Family history: If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with a thyroid-related condition, such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s, you have a greater risk for developing Hashimoto’s.
  • Being female: Women are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s .
  • Age: The risk of developing Hashimoto’s increases with age, most often affecting those age 60 and older. 
  • Other risk factors: Other risk factors that can increase the risk of developing Hashimoto’s include:
    • Pregnancy
    • Previous thyroid surgery
    • A low-iodine diet 
    • History of an autoimmune condition or conditions

Diagnosing Hashimoto’s

Our endocrinology specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating all kinds of thyroid-related conditions, including Hashimoto’s.
Some of the diagnostic tests your doctor may perform to test for Hashimoto’s include:

  • Blood tests: Your doctor may start by ordering bloodwork to evaluate your thyroid function and help diagnose any underlying thyroid conditions. A typical thyroid panel can include measuring your levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), free T3 and T4, reverse T3 and T4, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO).

  • Thyroid ultrasound: An ultrasound takes an image of your thyroid and throat area using sound waves. Your healthcare provider will review these images to look for any concerning issues.

  • Imaging tests: Diagnostic imaging tests, such MRIs, CT scans and PET scans, are used to produce detailed pictures of your thyroid gland and throat area.

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Hashimoto’s treatment

Depending on the type and severity of your condition, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended.
Lifestyle changes

You can make several lifestyle changes that your doctor may suggest to help manage your symptoms. These may include:

  • Increasing sleep
  • Exercise
  • Change in diet
  • Reducing stress
  • Emotional support

Your doctor may recommend prescription medications to help manage your symptoms and treat Hashimoto’s. This may include medications to regulate the amount of hormones your thyroid produces.

The latest surgical techniques, including minimally invasive surgery, might be right for treating Hashimoto’s disease to offer you the best outcomes and path for healing. You can rest assured that your team of specialized surgeons have the skill and level of training they need to perform thyroid-related surgeries.

Thyroid care at Geisinger

Our endocrinology team is here to provide you with compassionate care and the most advanced available. We offer:

  • The knowledge you need – Your care team is powered by endocrinologists, surgeons, doctors and specialists with years of training and experience. Their expertise has been honed by treating many people with thyroid issues every year. And their focus is on delivering the care best suited to your needs.

  • Care designed for you, where you live – With locations throughout northeast, central and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced team provides consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care, backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally recognized health system. 

  • Comprehensive specialty care – Our endocrine specialists are dedicated to offering innovative treatment options and personalized care in convenient locations, so you don’t have to travel far. We’ll work with you to develop a personalized care plan based on your individual needs.

  • Genetic testing and counseling programs – Special research programs such as MyCode® are only available at Geisinger. Participating in MyCode allows you to contribute to genetic research. By participating, some may receive information about their own genetic risks. Learn about MyCode.
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