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I hear from many readers who are confused about the difference between hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. A lot are unsure of which they have, whether they have one or both and what difference it makes to their symptoms and treatment.
Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are the most common types of thyroid disease. They share a lot of the same symptoms as both can equal a reduced amount of thyroid hormone in the body.
Related Article: Why It’s Important to Know if You Have Hashimoto’s
What is Hypothyroidism?
Put simply, hypothyroidism, sometimes called ‘an underactive thyroid’, is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
These hormones are needed for every process, cell and function in the body, so when they are low, a lot of stuff can be affected. This can include metabolic function, sensitivity to heat and cold intolerance, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, adrenal problems and more.
See a full article on what hypothyroidism is and how it affects people here.
What is Hashimoto’s?
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakenly tags and attacks the thyroid gland for destruction, thinking it’s an ‘invader’. The inflammation caused by this can understandably lead to many symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches and pains, temperature fluctuations, mood swings and more.
Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism at around 90%. 
Therefore, around 9 in 10 people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s to thank for this. Hashimoto’s causes hypothyroidism when so much damage has been done to the thyroid gland, that it affects its ability to produce enough thyroid hormone.
Do I Have Both or Just One?
90% of us with hypothyroidism will also have Hashimoto’s, but you can have hypothyroidism without Hashimoto’s, for example, if your hypothyroidism is caused by something else.
Some people will also have Hashimoto’s without hypothyroidism, as they may not have lost enough thyroid function yet to have hypothyroidism. Many people start with just Hashimoto’s and go on to then develop hypothyroidism too. This can happen quickly, though typically progresses over several years.
The Difference in Treatment
Treatment for Hashimoto’s tends to look are calming down the inflammation and reducing thyroid antibody levels. However, this often isn’t recognised in mainstream medicine. In fact, there is no recognised treatment for Hashimoto’s in mainstream medicine, but more progressive medicine promotes the lowering of thyroid antibodies to put the disease in to ‘remission‘ and reduce symptoms.
Why It’s Important To Confirm What Thyroid Condition/s You Have
Treating not only my hypothyroidism but also the Hashimoto’s, by lowering my thyroid antibodies, has made a significant improvement in my health. For those with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, treating both is often the best approach to reducing symptoms and getting better. I had to do more than just take thyroid medication.
Test For Hypothyroidism
A full thyroid panel test is required to diagnose hypothyroidism. Note that this isn’t just TSH, which is often used alone, but the other components of the thyroid panel too: Free T3, Free T4 and often Reverse T3.
Tests For Hashimoto’s
In The UK, Medichecks is a very popular choice for inexpensive testing of thyroid antibodies. You can order the all important thyroid antibodies to check for Hashimoto’s.
Have you confirmed whether you have one of these or both?
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
The book Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, which builds on this article in detail, as Rachel discusses all the steps she took to get her Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism under control so she could enjoy life again.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.