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Sure Signs You Have Hashimoto's Disease Like Zoe Saldana

What to know about Hashimoto’s Disease. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Hashimoto's Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland and "The number of people who have Hashimoto's disease in the United States is unknown. However, the disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, which affects about 5 in 100 Americans," according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. While it's unclear how many people struggle with Hashimoto's Disease, researchers do know it affects women more than men and Zoe Saldana can attest to that. The Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy star revealed a few years ago she has the disorder, as do her mother and sister. To learn more about Hashimoto's Disease, Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Michael Hirt, a Board Certified Nutrition from Harvard University and Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is with The Center for Integrative Medicine in Tarzana California who explained what to know. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What is Hashimoto's Disease

Sick women suffering from sore throat

Dr. Hirt says, "Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks your thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland that sits just below your Adam's apple at the front of your neck.  Early in the condition, patients may feel very little, but over time as the thyroid gland is destroyed by the immune attack, patients may begin to experience symptoms of insufficient thyroid hormone.  These symptoms of low thyroid hormone levels typically include cold intolerance, fatigue, low mood, hair loss, constipation, generalized bloating, a weak voice, and weight gain."


How Hashimoto's Disease Can Affect Daily Life and Overall Health

Woman recovering from an illness in bed at home.

Every cell in your body has a receptor for thyroid hormone.  This means that healthy cells require healthy levels of thyroid hormone.  Once the destructive process of Hashimoto's has compromised your gland's ability to pump out sufficient thyroid hormone, then patients will begin to experience the negative effects of low thyroid hormone blood levels.  Much like the slow dimming of the lights at a movie theater just before the show starts, patients with Hashimoto's may not initially realize that their body is changing.  Patients may think that they are tired because they didn't get enough sleep, that they are gaining weight because of their diet, or that they are bloated because of excessive salt consumption.  Eventually, most patients will realize that something is very wrong and seek medical attention from their healthcare professional."


How Hashimoto's Disease is Diagnosed

Laboratory assistant with a sample of blood in a test tube

Dr. Hirt explains, "A simple blood test can determine the extent of the thyroid hormone deficiency and prescription thyroid hormone is available to replace the lack of hormone from the thyroid gland.  (Fun fact: thyroid hormone was the very first prescription drug authorized in the United States, some 150 years ago.)"


Signs You Could Have Hashimoto's Disease

weight gain

Dr. Hirt lists the following signs to watch out for. 

  • "Weight Gain. The weight you gain looks 'puffy', like someone stuck an air hose under your skin and blew you up.
  • Eyebrow Hair Loss. You begin losing the outer one-third of your eyebrows.
  • Voice Change. Friends and family tell you that your voice is deepening and sounds gravely.
  • Cold Hands AND Neck. Lots of people have cold hands and feet but don't have Hashimoto's.  However, if the back of your neck is cold AND you have cold hands or feet, that can be a sign of low thyroid hormone levels.  A warm neck and cold hands is the more common occurrence and is not a sign of a weekend thyroid gland.)"


Causes of Hashimoto's Disease

Woman suffering from sore throat.

The Mayo Clinic states, "Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system creates antibodies that attack thyroid cells as if they were bacteria, viruses or some other foreign body. The immune system wrongly enlists disease-fighting agents that damage cells and lead to cell death.

What causes the immune system to attack thyroid cells is not clear. The onset of disease may be related to:

  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental triggers, such as infection, stress or radiation exposure
  • Interactions between environmental and genetic factors."



doctor examines with her fingers, palpates her neck and lymph nodes

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Most people with Hashimoto's disease take medication to treat hypothyroidism. If you have mild hypothyroidism, you may have no treatment but get regular TSH tests to monitor thyroid hormone levels.

T-4 hormone replacement therapy

Hypothyroidism associated with Hashimoto's disease is treated with a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others). The synthetic hormone works like the T-4 hormone naturally produced by the thyroid.

The treatment goal is to restore and maintain adequate T-4 hormone levels and improve symptoms of hypothyroidism. You will need this treatment for the rest of your life." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather