Let's talk about Hashimoto’s Disease
What is Hashimoto’s disease?
Hashimoto’s disease (or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in the lower part of the neck, just in front of the trachea. The thyroid produces thyroid hormone, which regulates many functions in the body like metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system causes the thyroid to become inflamed and damaged, and over time to produce less thyroid hormone (called hypothyroidism). Inflammation may cause the thyroid to noticeably swell, which is called a goiter.
How can Hashimoto’s disease impact your health?
Most symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease are due to hypothyroidism, which over time can cause symptoms to progress or even change as the thyroid produces less and less thyroid hormone. In addition, symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue or sluggishness, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, constipation, and muscle pain or joint stiffness. Depression can also be a symptom of Hashimoto’s disease, and other symptoms like fatigue and weight gain may be frustrating and impact one’s quality of life. Counseling and/or support groups can be an important part of some Hashimoto’s disease management plans.
Hashimoto’s disease is treated with thyroid hormone supplementation, which can help restore thyroid hormone levels, alleviate symptoms, and reduce the risk of developing health problems associated with hypothyroidism. However, if left untreated, hypothyroidism from Hashimoto’s disease can be associated with several other conditions like heart disease, sexual and reproductive dysfunction, and pregnancy complications. If you have concerns about Hashimoto’s disease, talk to a healthcare professional.
Is Hashimoto’s disease genetic?
Genetics do play a role in Hashimoto’s disease. This means some people may be more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease than others, depending on their genetics. Hashimoto’s disease can run in families, which means that a person has an increased chance of developing Hashimoto’s disease if family members have the condition. In most cases, it is a combination of many different genetic variants that impact a person’s chances of developing Hashimoto’s disease. Individually, each of these variants only has a small impact on a person’s genetic likelihood, but that impact can grow when many variants are considered together. 23andMe takes into account 11,786 genetic markers to estimate the likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease, but keep in mind that other factors besides genetics can also influence a person’s overall likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
Other factors that can impact your chances of developing Hashimoto’s disease
Hashimoto’s disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It is estimated that up to 5% of the U.S. population has hypothyroidism. Besides genetics, some factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing Hashimoto’s disease include:
- Sex (females are more likely to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease than males)
- Family history
- Age (Hashimoto’s disease is most common in middle age)
- Certain health conditions (including celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Addison’s disease)
- Pregnancy (Hashimoto’s disease may begin during or after pregnancy)
- Radiation exposure
Learn more about Hashimoto’s disease
Curious whether you have an increased likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease based on your genetics? Find out more with the Hashimoto’s Disease report (Powered by 23andMe Research), part of the 23andMe+ Membership. 23andMe+ includes our Health + Ancestry Service plus new premium reports and features throughout the year.
- This report does not diagnose Hashimoto’s disease and should not be used to make medical decisions.
- The report was developed by 23andMe scientists using data and insights gathered from thousands of customers who consent to participate in our research. Reports based on 23andMe research provide an estimate of your likelihood of developing a condition based on your genetics and other factors. This report does not account for lifestyle or family history.
- The report does not account for every possible genetic variant that could affect your likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
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