Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, known also as Hashimoto’s disease and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the small gland at the base of your neck known as the thyroid. This can cause hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones for the body’s needs. The most frequent symptoms include: weight gain, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, dry and thinning hair, depression, amongst many others.
While the exact cause of Hashimoto’s is unknown, several factors are believed to contribute to it. Genetics play a role, as Hashimoto’s often afflicts those who have family members with thyroid or other autoimmune diseases. Hormones also seem key. Hashimoto’s typically occurs between the ages of 30-50 and is seven times as likely to affect women as men, and thyroid complications can affect women the first year after having a child. Other possible factors include excessive iodine and radiation exposure. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects an estimated 5% of the population at some stage of their life.