Hashimoto's thyroiditis—will diet alone help?

November 28, 2016 by From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network

Dear Mayo Clinic: I just turned 30 and recently was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. I'm wondering about whether it can be cured or if I will have to take medication for the rest of my life. I've read the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet may help. Is this true? Do you have any suggestions for managing symptoms?

A: Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that usually progresses slowly and often leads to low thyroid hormone levels - a condition called . The best therapy for Hashimoto's thyroiditis is to normalize thyroid hormone levels with medication. A balanced diet and other healthy may help when you have Hashimoto's, but a specific diet alone is unlikely to reverse the changes caused by the disease.

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the front of your neck. The hormones that the thyroid gland makes - triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) - affect all aspects of your metabolism. They maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of proteins.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis develops when your body's immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid. It's not clear why this happens. Some research seems to indicate that a virus or bacterium might trigger the immune response. It's possible that a genetic predisposition also may be involved in the development of this autoimmune disorder.

A chronic condition that develops over time, Hashimoto's thyroiditis damages the thyroid and eventually can cause hypothyroidism. That means your thyroid no longer produces enough of the hormones it usually makes. If that happens, it can lead to such as fatigue, sluggishness, constipation, unexplained weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, joint pain or stiffness, and muscle weakness.

If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, the most effective way to control them is to take a hormone replacement. That typically involves daily use of a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine that you take as an oral medication. It is identical to thyroxine, the natural version of a hormone made by your . The medication restores your hormone levels to normal and eliminates hypothyroidism symptoms.

You may hear about products that contain a form of hormones derived from animals. They often are marketed as being natural. Because they are from animals, however, they aren't natural to the human body, and they potentially can cause health problems. The American Thyroid Association's hypothyroidism guidelines recommend against using these products as a first-line treatment for hypothyroidism.

Although hormone replacement therapy is effective at controlling symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, it is not a cure. You need to keep taking the medication to keep symptoms at bay. Treatment is usually lifelong. To make sure you get the right amount of hormone replacement for your body, you must have your checked with a blood test once or twice a year.

If symptoms linger despite hormone replacement therapy, you may need to have the dose of medication you take each day adjusted. If symptoms persist despite evidence of adequate hormone , it's possible those symptoms could be a result of something other than Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Talk to your health care provider about any bothersome symptoms you have while taking .

A that includes eating well, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly and limiting stress can benefit your immune system, and could contribute to an improvement in your immune health. However, there's no evidence that following one diet in particular is an effective treatment for autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. If you have questions about diet or other lifestyle choices you can make to improve your health when you have Hashimoto's, please talk to your doctor.

Explore further: Thyroid health important to all, says expert

5 shares

Related Stories

Thyroid health important to all, says expert

September 15, 2016
Thyroid problems are five to eight times more likely to impact women than men. However, Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. Ruchi Gaba cautions that any person, regardless of gender or age, can be affected by thyroid issues.

Giving more pregnant women common thyroid medicine may reduce risk of complications

November 9, 2016
Extending the number of pregnant women given the common drug levothyroxine to boost thyroid hormone levels may lead to a reduced number of stillbirths, early caesarean sections and low-weight babies, according to a new study ...

Hypothyroidism symptoms linger despite medication use, normal blood tests

October 12, 2016
About 15 percent of the 10-12 million people in the U.S. with hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, continue to feel sick despite following the standard of care recommended by the American Thyroid Association. Physicians ...

Higher thyroid hormone levels linked to sudden cardiac death

September 6, 2016
Risk of death from a sudden loss of heart function was significantly greater in patients with thyroid hormone levels at the higher end of normal range, compared to patients with levels at the lower end, according to new research ...

Recommended for you

More frequent checks control MRSA in newborns, but can hospitals afford them?

May 22, 2018
The more often a hospital can check its newborns for deadly MRSA germs, the more likely it will be that they are contained, according to a new study.

Could we predict the next Ebola outbreak by tracking the migratory patterns of bats?

May 22, 2018
Javier Buceta, associate professor of bioengineering, Paolo Bocchini, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and postdoctoral student Graziano Fiorillo of Lehigh University have created a modeling framework ...

Helping preterm infants grow bigger kidneys would prevent kidney disease later in life

May 21, 2018
Nephrons are the microscopic blood-filtering units inside our kidneys that convert waste products into urine, regulate our electrolyte levels and our blood pressure.

Kidney docs worry over no dialysis for undocumented immigrants

May 21, 2018
(HealthDay)—Undocumented immigrants in the United States are often denied treatment for kidney failure until they have a life-threatening emergency. Now a new study finds that the doctors and nurses who treat them are frustrated ...

Clues found to early lung transplant failure

May 21, 2018
Among organ transplant patients, those receiving new lungs face a higher rate of organ failure and death compared with people undergoing heart, kidney and liver transplants. One of the culprits is inflammation that damages ...

How to ethically conduct clinical research during public health emergencies

May 21, 2018
Following the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine established a committee to assess the clinical trials conducted in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.