Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Is there a role for surgery in treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

August 12, 2019

About the Author

photo of Jeffrey Garber, MD, FACP, MACE

Jeffrey Garber, MD, FACP, MACE, Contributor

Jeffrey R. Garber, MD, FACP, MACE is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology at Atrius Health , and member of the endocrine divisions of Beth Israel Deaconess … See Full Bio
View all posts by Jeffrey Garber, MD, FACP, MACE


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


October 7, 2019

I was just recently diagnosed with Hashimoto, I did my due diligence and studied, researched and informed myself.
The article said Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is typically treated with observation alone”.
I can’t believe no one mentions the changes in lifestyle needed, how about gluten, dairy, soy, coffee, sugar, alcohol, stress, and more sleep, and hormone yoga!
Why nobody talks about this things? Just wait and watch to see how you keep destroying your thyroid? Please people do your research!

Lisa Dye
September 25, 2019

I agree with Allison. My body hurts! My endo won’t try dessicated or even up my dose to get me below a TSH of 1 (I’d like to try to get near .5 to see if that helps my symptoms, but it’s close enough for him — he didn’t want to give me meds when I was 3.5 and my thyroid was screaming with pain and I had frozen shoulder). I have a lump in my throat. I worry about developing thyroid cancer (yeah, I know it’s the good kind, lol). I want this sucker out. I can’t lose weight, my mouth is dry as cotton, the anxiety is awful. No way to live. Sigh me up too!

Ellen Reagan
September 15, 2019

Has anyone discussed that while there is relevance with surgery, what happens to the auto immunity when you remove the thyroid?

August 15, 2019

I completely agree with you!
I was born with only 1 thyroid gland not 2. Although 2 were present in the ultrasound only one was actually functioning. I am now 56 years old and I had to go through my life during the teen years not even knowing what was going on.
When I turned 30 my world was turned upside down after seeing a fill in doctor who took one look at me and said and I quote ” as your pcp ever done a ultrasound on your thyroid before”? After he examined me and pushed on my thyroid, throat telling me to swallow and I wasn’t able to do that I began to freak out!
All the blood work, traditional ultrasound, I was then told I had hypothyroidism.
Did the dye test on the skinny table with that had a choice either cut it open ( my throat) take out all of the glands and then regulate the hormone with synthetic hormones for the thyroid. OR do the horse pill full of radiation to kill the only one functioning.
So I did the pill and let me tell you that was BAD also.

Now at 56 my throat hurts loss of my hair dry skin to the point of bleeding because I scratch myself it’s so dry. Loss of constitution since of direction while driving AND blood panels come back at 79 for my t4 t5 is 35 and my body has stop processing the t3!!!! I am a mess so my point to this story is that doctors need to STOP look at the text books and look at us as individual people who are single patients not the same and NOT everything works for everyone. That includes medication, diet, foods, and mental health!

August 12, 2019


I am quite disappointed to see another article about Hashimoto’s that fails to mention the importance of diet and lifestyle in treatment. Also sad to see that “standard treatment” is still synthetic hormone, despite thousands of woman who respond poorly to synthetics and do much better on a natural thyroid hormone replacement.

Regarding surgery, I do not understand why removing an organ should be a possible treatment for something that can be helped by dietary changes and/or proper medication.

If one has rheumatoid arthritis, would you remove all joints that are affected? If one has diabetes, would you remove the pancreas? if one has Graves disease, would you remove the eyes in addition to the thyroid gland? How about MS, would you remove the nervous system?

Of course not, the above is ridiculous. And undergoing the knife to remove the thyroid gland – unless there is a dire concern (e.g. cancer or blockage of airway/issues swallowing) – is just as ridiculous.

The thyroid is merely an innocent bystander of autoimmune disease. All autoimmune disease begins in the gut. When is mainstream medicine going to start *looking* to the gut – and to the body as a whole – for healing, instead of immediately suggesting that surgery is the best option?

More research needed, indeed. I would be especially curious to see how those participants are faring 1, 5, and 10 years post-surgery to monitor the long-term effects of such drastic measures.

September 3, 2019

Hmm. I’m 37 and it’s been almost 18 years since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. Recently, I’ve been feeling more and more symptoms despite “normal” labs. I read the article front Norway several months ago, and find it quite compelling. In autoimmune disorder treatment, it is said to find the trigger. In my case, I’m quite certain that my thyroid is the trigger. My antibody levels continue to be quite high and I absolutely believe that the antibodies alone trigger symptoms despite “normal” tag, t3, t4. In the case of severe nodules and cancer, removal of the thyroid is already a standard level of treatment, so it seems that we should already have data on what long term post thyroidectomy with thyroid hormone replacement looks like. (I personally know two people who had thyroidectomies to treat cancer many years ago and they continue to be well maintained with medication). We also know that long term Hashimotos increases risk of thyroid cancer. Since we have embraced the preemptive mastectomies to prevent breast cancer when risk is elevated, I don’t think thyroidectomy when treatment is not 100% successful, and symptoms are persistent is a stretch. At this point my thyroid is not at all functional, I continue to take high levels of synthroid, maintain a healthy/balanced diet, exercise 5 days a week, don’t smoke, don’t drink, etc. and still feel fatigued, brain fog, and almost non existent metabolism. If anyone knows of another study, sign me up! My thyroid is useless and I strongly believe that removal would be the right next step for me.

October 4, 2019

My case is exactly the same , but i am 24 yrs old, surgery seems to be only option

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

Thyroid Disease: Understanding hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

Many people diagnosed with a thyroid condition are surprised that such a small gland can have such a profound impact on overall health and well-being. But the thyroid gland plays an enormous role in human health. Throughout life, this busy gland is constantly producing hormones that influence metabolism. When disease causes your thyroid gland to slack off and underproduce thyroid hormone, or overwork and produce too much of it, you'll know something isn't right. Thyroid Disease: Understanding hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism will help you recognize the symptoms and find the right treatment before you experience the long-term effects of this common condition.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.