6 Signs & Symptoms of Inflammation in Hashimoto's (What to look for)

Signs & Symptoms of Inflammation in Hashimoto’s

Inflammation Damages your Thyroid

You should really think about Hashimoto's disease as a disease of inflammation

I know that it's an autoimmune disease but what is an autoimmune disease if not a problem with your immune system?

And because the immune system controls and regulates the inflammatory system, these systems are really one and the same. 

This is great for you, as a patient with Hashimoto's, because it means you can use the signs of inflammation as a way to determine if you are treating your Hashimoto's disease correctly. 

Why does this matter?

Because you are probably the only one who cares that you have Hashimoto's in your body. 

And I don't mean that to depress you, I'm just being real with you. 

Your doctor really doesn't care that you have Hashimoto's, they really only care about the status of your thyroid gland and whether or not it can produce thyroid hormone. 

And if you don't believe me, by the way, go ahead and ask them. 

They will tell you point-blank. 

But what doctors miss is that there are ways that you can MANAGE that inflammation to reduce the DAMAGE from Hashimoto's

So it is incredibly important for you to be aware if inflammation is running rampant in your body. 

Today we are going to be discussing exactly that. 

The signs and symptoms which may indicate that inflammation is present in your body. 

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Symptoms of Inflammation in Hashimoto's Patients

#1. Fluctuating thyroid levels. 

The most common symptom of inflammation in Hashimoto's is that of fluctuating thyroid hormone levels

What do I mean? 

I'm talking about changes to your hormone FUNCTION. 

Inflammation is associated with either a DOWNWARD trend in thyroid function or an UPWARD trend in thyroid function. 

Most people will experience this as LOW thyroid function, meaning the symptoms of hypothyroidism or low thyroid. 

This is why Hashimoto's is often referred to as Hashimoto's hypothyroidism. 

Because it causes hypothyroidism!

BUT, it can also cause hyperthyroidism. 

Inflammation can damage the thyroid and result in TOO much thyroid hormone production which leads to hyperthyroid symptoms

Acute damage tends to cause this problem while chronic long-term inflammation tends to cause LOW thyroid function. 

One of the reasons that Hashimoto's patients struggle to identify how they feel is because this process can go up and down like a roller coaster

One week you can feel hyperthyroid and the next you can feel hypothyroid which can seem confusing. 

But if you understand what inflammation is doing then it doesn't have to be. 

The goal is obviously to cool down this inflammation to stabilize your thyroid function. 

#2. Feeling run down

Do you ever feel like you just don't have the energy that you used to?

Like it's difficult to get out of bed and do your day to day activities?

Or how about just not having the drive or motivation to do the things that you know you HAVE to do?

These are all signs of inflammation in Hashimoto's patients. 

Both low thyroid AND inflammation can cause fatigue but the fatigue or low energy in inflammatory states tends to be less pronounced compared to low thyroid states. 

Put another way:

Inflammation just causes you to feel run down and a little bit tired. 

The fatigue in low thyroid tends to be much more pronounced and much worse. 

But both states can contribute to your overall energy level. 

#3. Joint pain and stiffness (in the muscles or back)

Do you wake up in the morning and find that you are feeling stiff?

Do your joints ever ache during the day?

Do they feel better once you start moving around?

Does it feel like your back is stiff and not as flexible as it used to be?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may be experiencing the effects of inflammation. 

You can think of inflammation as junk or glue which slows down the mobility of your joints. 

The more inflammation you have, the harder it is to get up and moving. 

But once you get moving you start to "grease" the joints, so to speak, which helps improve your mobility. 

Not everyone experiences this stiffness, though!

Some people experience joint PAIN or low back PAIN in the joints themselves. 

Whether you experience a stiffness or an actual pain, inflammation is probably to blame. 

#4. Allergies or reactions to foods

Inflammation makes your entire body more sensitive than it would be otherwise. 

And these sensitivities extend to your intestinal tract and your gut. 

The same organ which is responsible for breaking down the food that you eat each and every day. 

What happens when inflammation hits the gut?

It starts to react to foods that you otherwise wouldn't have reacted to in the past. 

If you've ever had a food allergy test you probably know what I am talking about. 

If you get a delayed IgG food allergy test when inflammation is running rampant in your body, you will find that you react to just about every food. 

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You'll see reactions to sweet potatoes, chicken, beef, broccoli, and the like. 

Are you really "allergic" to these foods? 

Most likely not, instead your gut is just incredibly sensitive to these foods because it is inflamed. 

And these "sensitivities" will most likely go away once you calm down that inflammation. 

So one sign of inflammation from Hashimoto's is new allergies to foods that you otherwise used to be able to consume. 

These are most likely not true allergies, though, so don't let it stress you out!

But they are a reason to get your inflammation under control ASAP. 

#5. Skin rashes or other skin problems (acne, dermatitis, eczema, etc.)

Your skin is one massive organ, the biggest organ in fact, and it does a lot more than you probably realize. 

Aside from keeping water and nutrients in your body, acting as a barrier from foreign bodies, and protecting you from infection, it's also an amazing canary in the coal mine for the inside of your body. 

The good thing about your skin is that you can SEE it with your eyeballs. 

And this is a valuable tool!

You can't easily look at your other organs such as your liver or your thyroid, at least not without special radiology imaging

But your skin can be visualized without any special tools. 

And this is great because it's often one of the first organs to show that there are problems on the INSIDE of your body. 

Inflammation in the body can create a situation where your skin may start to develop various conditions which can all be seen with your eyes. 

Conditions like dermatitis, rashes, acne, and eczema should be seen as signs that your skin is screaming to you that something is wrong. 

You might think that problems with your skin are the result of something irritating your body from the OUTSIDE but it's actually the exact opposite. 

When your body is inflamed, your skin becomes more SENSITIVE to stimuli that would have otherwise not caused any issues. 

And these stimuli can manifest as the symptoms listed above. 

So if you have any unexplained rashes, bumps, weird discolorations, or anything of the like, it may be a sign that you have inflammation in your body. 

This is further complicated by the fact that your thyroid also regulates your skin in various ways as well. 

Acne, hair loss, dry skin, and fingernail problems may also be a sign that your thyroid isn't working properly. 

#6. Symptoms of other autoimmune diseases

If you have Hashimoto's then you already have one autoimmune disease, as if that wasn't bad enough. 

But did you know that if you have one autoimmune disease you have a much higher risk for developing a second?

This risk most likely stems from inflammation and immune dysfunction. 

The very thing that caused your first autoimmune disease (in this case, Hashimoto's) is also very likely to cause a SECOND autoimmune disease. 

The only problem with developing a second autoimmune disease is that it's not always obvious which one you may get. 

Autoimmune disease, and the symptoms of autoimmune disease, exist on a sliding scale. 

Sometimes the symptoms are obvious, easy to identify, and lead to a quick diagnosis. 

For instance...

Many patients with Hashimoto's also have Celiac disease (1) (another autoimmune disease) as well as vitiligo (2). 

Both of these are autoimmune diseases but they present with different symptoms. 

But what if instead of having stomach pains and changes to your skin pigmentation, you just get a general feeling of fatigue, joint pain, or neurological problems?

Do you have lupus, do you have MS, or something in between?

This is the predicament that many patients with one autoimmune disease find themselves in. 

It's not always obvious or easy to diagnose a second or third autoimmune disease which can lead to prolonged and unnecessary symptoms. 

The key here is to treat the underlying problem (the thing we will talk about next) to prevent further autoimmune diseases from developing. 

But you should know that you are at increased risk for developing other autoimmune diseases if you have Hashimoto's and this should be a big reason to reduce inflammation. 

What Causes Inflammation in Hashimoto's? 

Knowing that you have inflammation in your body is only PART of the solution. 

The other part includes finding out the CAUSE of that inflammation and managing that. 

This is how you can treat Hashimoto's naturally!

With that in mind, let's talk about some of the sources of inflammation. 

If you can identify these sources, and manage them, then you will be in a good position to treat your thyroid. 

  • Not eating clean enough - Diet probably plays the single most important role in regulating inflammation in your entire body. The foods that you put into your mouth contain information and that information can either help reduce inflammation or cause it. Gluten, dairy, inflammatory fats, and processed foods tend to cause the most problems but there are many other foods that can do it as well! 
  • Nutrient deficiencies - There are several vitally important nutrients that your thyroid needs in order to function. Zinc, Selenium, and Iodine all fit into this category. A deficiency in any of these nutrients is enough to not only cause thyroid problems but they can also trigger inflammation AND Hashimoto's. 
  • Not sleeping enough - Lack of sleep is a KNOWN trigger of inflammation. In fact, studies show that just reducing your sleep by 1-2 hours each night increases inflammatory hormones (3), reduces thyroid hormones, and lowers sex hormones! Do not sacrifice your sleep for any reason if you have Hashimoto's! 
  • Too much stress - Stress is often one of the primary triggers of Hashimoto's in many people. Stress from things like poor work/home-life balance, the loss of a loved one, divorce, and being a caretaker for several years, are some of the most common triggers I personally see. But I've also seen Hashimoto's triggered by car accidents and other forms of physical trauma as well. Why? Because they all cause stress. 
  • Chemicals and toxins - Exposure to everyday chemicals and toxins can lead to inflammation and thyroid damage! And I'm not even talking about exotic chemicals here, either. Exposure to ingredients in makeup, chemicals found on foods, preservatives in food, flame retardants, cleaning chemicals, and more, can all cause inflammation and damage your thyroid. 
  • Inflammation in the gut - Inflammation in the gut leads to all sorts of problems and can even be the primary cause of Hashimoto's in certain people. Your gut protects the inside of your body from harmful toxins, bacteria, food particles, and anything else that makes it down your mouth. Damage, in the form of inflammation, weakens the barrier of your gut and diminishes its protective capacity
  • Low thyroid function - Low thyroid function itself can actually exacerbate Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This is why some people see a dramatic improvement in their antibodies and inflammatory levels when they start taking thyroid medication. You can either improve your thyroid with natural thyroid remedies or with the use of thyroid prescription medications. 

Final Thoughts

Inflammation is something that YOU should be aware of if you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. 

In fact, you should really be aware of these signs and symptoms regardless of whether or not you have Hashimoto's. 

Inflammation is NEVER a good thing and it is something that should be aggressively targeted and treated. 

Most people, and I'm one of them, believe that inflammation is at the root of most chronic illness (4) (or at least part of that equation). 

This includes autoimmune disease, obesity, heart disease, and so on. 

This makes managing inflammation a top priority for ALL thyroid patients. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Do you have any of the symptoms of inflammation?

If so, which ones?

Do you know if you have inflammation in your body? Do you suspect that you do?

Have you treated or reduced the inflammation in YOUR body?

If so, how did you do it?

Leave your questions or comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

how inflammation damages your thyroid

Dr. Westin Childs

About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 45,000+ people have used them over the last 4.5 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do here.

38 thoughts on “Signs & Symptoms of Inflammation in Hashimoto’s”

  1. I have Hashimotos and EBV . I often get what feels like a “flare” , sore throat, mild headache, absolutely zero energy. Is this the EBV , Hashimoto or both?
    Other than following clean diet, any other suggestions? My DO basically just said to be aware of possibility of having more than one autoimmune diseases.

    Reply
    • Hi Michaele,

      Honestly, probably a little bit of both but each one by itself could cause those symptoms so it’s hard to say.

      Reply
  2. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s 9 years ago. I’ve been to 4 different doctor’s in that time and none of them would prescribe me any form of T3. My current doctor, an endocrinologist, will only look at my TSH, which was 5.44 last month. How can I find a doctor who can help me?

    Reply
      • Hello,
        I was diagnosed with hashimottos abound 7 years or so ago. I have chronic inflammation and other signs that make me believe I have another autoimmune disease. I have asked my specialist to run a lupus panel and her remark was oh we already did that a year ago. All the other drs I have seen blame it on IBS. Yes I have that but it’s something more. I get a sharp pain in my upper left stomach right under my rib cage and the pain shoots up to my shoulder. Along with other symptoms. I am taking a step and going to a holistic Dr in hopes he can find the root cause. Maybe it’s just the hashi? I feel like I’m going crazy!! Wish me luck

        Reply
  3. Hi Dr. Childs – I love reading and watching all of your posts and videos. I was diagnosed 2.5 yrs. ago with a thyroid problem. It fluctuates between Hypo and Hyperthyroid I now have Graves disease and TED. I’m taking meds for the thyroid but haven’t seen much on the Graves or TED in your posts or videos. I’ve seen an Ophthalmologist for the TED and she wants to start Trapezza which is an Infusion for the TED I’m also pre diabetic. I’m 75 yrs old and not sure what to do. I’ve been taking your Thyroid Multi Supplements and I do feel a change but was wondering if you had any suggestions. Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  4. You are a serious blessing with having an informative site that has helped me to understand how crucial it is to care about understanding how inflamation

    Reply
  5. I cannot find physician, thinking like you, to help me with my Hashimoto hypothyroid near my location. My symptoms are worse then ever. Levothyroxin make me nauseous, getting more kilos, no energy, etc…
    When I presenting your opinion and facts, doctors look at me contemptuously.
    Could you recommend someone near my location?, Gurnee, Il.

    Reply
  6. I have Hashimotos and EBV also.I usually can feel when the inflammation in my body is high.Take for instance today.Feel really tired.Sit still very long and I’m going to sleep.Also,my legs are aching and lower back.Usually brought on by stress,lack of quality sleep,and getting off of a clean diet.It’s hard to manage sometimes when you work a stressful nursing job.Any thoughts on what I can do during these stressful periods???

    Reply
  7. Thank you so much for this, it is a fabulous article. I have a few questions.

    1. What lab tests are good to measure and track inflammation?
    2. Can enlarged lymph nodes be a sign of inflammation?
    3. Can Hashimotos produce a positive ANA or would that be more telling of a second autoimmune disorder — lupus or other.

    Reply
  8. Dr. Childs,

    Thank you for all of your great articles and posts. I recently started seeing a Functional MD because my GYN didn’t seem to be listening to anything I was saying about how I was feeling.

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. I have gone GF since then, but I really never ate much gluten before. I’m 47 Y/o and have started gaining weight, which makes me crazy! I’ve always exercised, always tried to watch what I eat, but I’m gaining weight around my middle. And can’t lose a pound. I’m on 60mg Armour Thyroid in the am, progesterone in the evening. My testosterone was only 11, so I was out in a bHRT, as well.

    Thoughts on weight loss? I know they say that IF and/or Keto sometimes puts unwanted stressors on the bodies of those with thyroid issues, but I was wondering about your thoughts on that.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  9. I enjoy reading your articles. I have many symptoms that I suspect correlate to inflammation and therefore a flare-up of Hashimoto’s. Joint pain, and it is seldom in the same joint twice in a row; overall stiffness and aching muscles; puffiness (water accumulation causing 2-3 pounds of weight gain); of course fatigue. But sometimes I feel all revved up and anxious with panic attacks, then I have to temporarily decrease my thyroid meds and that helps a lot. Sometimes it seems nothing I do helps it and I just have to wait until it is over. But at the top of the list is enough sleep, for me that is 8-9 hours and clearing my schedule. Stress and lack of sleep seem to be my biggest triggers.

    Reply
  10. I find that besides all of the above suggestions regarding clean and anti-inflammatory foods (especially all plant-based! including turmeric, green veggies, garlic, onions, vit. C, and D, etc. and DHA and EPA supplementation*), physical exercise (vigorous walking, flexibility exercises that stretch and relax the muscles and the mind, and some strength training with weights or just your own body weight) works wonders in keeping inflammation and its close associate autoimmune disorders at a distance. In my view, life’s stresses that weigh heavy on one’s psyche, if left unabated through regular physical movement, are a major factor in one’s body turning against one’s own tissues (i.e. autoimmunity). Stress needs an escape valve, and physical exercise is an excellent escape valve.
    [*My source is vegan Complement Plus]

    Reply
  11. Puzzled. I went outside my medical and did a full thyroid panel in Aug. 2019. Everything turned out normal levels except TGAB. TGAB level was high at 254. My doctor ran a tgab and tsh and said I had beginning Hashimoto’s nothing to worry about. I did look at all of the panel test ranges you and stop the thyroid madness recommended. Everything seems to fall In the normal range except the tgab. I did another full thyroid panel on my own about 1 month ago and now everything is in the normal range. My TGAB is normal. I do get some of the symptoms of low thyroid and my doctor said I will probably never need thyroid medication. So, Can the TGAB test be wrong? Can it be high one time and completely normal the next. It was mid range normal in the latest TGAb test, completely normal. Is it possible with beginning Hashimoto’s to have the TGAB test go from high to normal and still have Hashimotis? Or was there an error in the original testing?. I am puzzled.

    Reply
  12. Thank you very much Dr Westin Childs for your posts, emails and clear explanations. All your divulgation is of VERY GOOD QUALITY, you show a deep understanding of Hashimoto autoimmune condition and you are helping thousands of people like me, diagnosed with Hashimoto 25 years ago in Spain, I am coping with the condition very well thanks to all the knowledge collected over these years and experimentation with me myself, I took an active approach towards my condition, always reading and improving and not just paying attention to what my endo said. I found that taking good quality curcuma, resveratrol and ginger also help to reduce inflamation in the body. A very interesting topic, thanks a lot for your divulgation.

    Reply
  13. Thank you for another informative article. I thought I was the only one (not on prescription medication) who fluctuates between hypo and hyper symptoms. For me, It’s mostly seasonal: In winter, some weight gain, eczema, and a greater need for supplements; In summer, insomnia, long fingernails, and some weight loss (don’t mind that part!). Fortunately no joint pain, fatigue, or brain fog that people speak of.

    Reply
  14. Thank you, Dr. Child’s, for all the excellent information. I have been listening to you for some time now, and was doing very well until I caught Covid 19. Since then I have been dragging. My doctors investigated my thyroid function first, of course. It looks better than it ought to at this stage. My autoantibodies had dropped by 400 points in two years, my inflammation is negligible, and frankly, it looks like I am a hypochondriac with my post Covid symptoms of fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, heart palpitations, and headaches. I keep a clean gluten-free, dairy-free, allergy-free, packaged and processed-free diet. I do light exercise everyday. (I walk the dog for 30 minutes. It’s not anything like before Covid, when I was on my feet all day, and walked two-five miles after work everyday.) I had to retire after Covid, because I just didn’t have the strength for it anymore. After 10 months and another bad flu-like illness (Covid again?) this summer, my life is mostly sitting in a lounge chair. This is no life. I am too young and have too many interests to just exist. My doctors don’t want to see me and I am very frustrated.

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth,

      It’s hard to say for sure what’s going on with this information but I would look into long COVID which may explain some of your symptoms. Some people experience chronic fatigue like symptoms after COVID which seem to be related to the infection in some way.

      Reply
    • Elizabeth
      My doctor tried to put me on drugs for my (he called depression) after complaining about my condition several times and finding no test results to confirm anything. Three or four years later for physical, found my TSH high.
      Maybe somehow test ranges are different or don’t read correctly for certain reasons, though look good. Even if levels show good, how much T3 is actually getting to a persons cells?

      I knew a person that was sick a few years, after several months on and off of antibiotics, discovered it was candida.
      Fungi are mostly over-looked in the medical world.

      Hope some of these thoughts my give you some other avenues to look at.

      Reply
      • What happened to Tony is very common. One of the most common reasons for this is the fact that TSH changes are a late sign of thyroid disease. So if you only look at the TSH you will always miss early stage hypothyroidism so your doctor will tell you you are fine even though you aren’t: https://www.restartmed.com/tsh-levels/

        Reply
  15. I’ve cured my Hashimotos with medicines from the amazon. Kambo saved my life. I had 3 different auto immune diseases occurring and after going off all synthetic medicine. Going off birth control and diving into herbal and plant medicines from the jungle all my labs are back to normal and I don’t have any auto immune diseases anymore. After kambo you do the kambo diet which is similar to the auto immune protocol diet but stronger. You don’t eat any sugar including those in fruit and veggies so you even avoid some of those you don’t eat meat except fish and lower your salt intake. I did this for two months after doing kambo and a year of no prescription medicines and no synthetic medicine and I am now 100% disease free.

    Reply
  16. I have MS & Hashimotos any advice? I have also been having a lot of allergy reactions & extreme fatigue. I have cut out a lot in my diet but it looks like I will have to get even more strict. My endocrinologist has just recently changed up my meds, & so far I don’t feel any worse. Maybe even a tiny spec better, but I’m soo tired of being tired. Also tired of the rashes, hives, hot flashes & crazy symptoms.

    Reply
  17. My thyroid was removed in 2000 for nodules. I have a lot of cancer in my family and did not want to take a chance. Last year at my physical, my TSH was 1.69, this year it was 22.9. The highest it has ever been before was 4.69. I asked my Dr to recheck again in case there is a mistake. I am going to go back first of next week.
    What could possibly cause this big of a jump? My temp is usually 97.2 and has been going down slowly over time. I have had hair loss and tiredness,

    Reply
  18. Hello 🙂
    I do not understand ‘anything’ of this subject.
    I keep trying but it just does not happen.
    I am piling on weight but otherwise, thyroid wise, not too bad right now, as I believe there has been some recovery.

    All I can get out of my GP surgery today is this:
    12.4 pmol/L and 4.48 mu/L .

    What is the TSH please and how is the situation???
    A GP has added normal, no action, but they do that even when hospital scientists clearly state that is not the case.

    I feel really sorry for all of us with Hashimoto’s. The way we are treated is criminal and I think it is because it is largely, but not entirely a female health problem.

    Reply
  19. I have another question please.

    I have (really quite unstable recently) hypertension (also membranous nephritis).

    Is there any relationship between hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s Disease and blood pressure?

    Reply
  20. And the other day, my parathyroid function plummeted, but again, it has just about recovered. My Nephrologist found it! Endocrinology keep sending me away [‘You are on watch and wait’.]

    Not that there is any nephrology these days, what with Covid keeping them all busy, I expect.

    I am having the Moderna vaccine tomorrow, have loads of allergies – in particular to med’s (such as Levothyroxine!) and I am absolutely terrified – to be perfectly honest. I think I am going to be ‘very’ poorly.

    Reply
  21. Thank you Dr , I have hypothyroid maybe have hasimotos on levo told I am borderline but years of anxiety depression and aches also rare but have had hallucinations and dizzy spells shakes either inside or sometimes out. Rash if I eat certain things and jump body action plus can have low heart beat high blood pressure. My doctor states I do not have hashimotos. Based uk. I may have hashimotos so have omitted gluten and soy rapeseed. Depression and anxiety better and less leg pain. Eating just a few brazil nuts a day and other foods feeling far better. I thank you again and I am talking to my gp I feel better I have relapses but I feel so much better. I truly think looking back I have had low thyroid for a long time and maybe hashimotos but it was never picked up.

    Reply

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