How Can Infections Impact Your Thyroid

We now know that autoimmune diseases such as Graves and Hashimoto’s trigger thyroid disease. There is new research covering theories that explain why infections can cause autoimmune disease leading to thyroid issues. Below is some information on how infections affect your thyroid.

Molecular Mimicry

The infection is similar to your thyroid tissue and your immune system tries to attack the infection but accidentally attacks the thyroid. You may be familiar with this as it happens too many people that are sensitive to gluten.

Bystander Activation

Bacteria or a virus raids the thyroid gland and your immune system sends cells to your thyroid to kill the infection. When the cells start to attack the bacteria or virus, it mistakenly damages some of your thyroid tissue. This causes the body to build up inflammation. The inflammation causes more cells to attack the thyroid gland further damaging it.

Cryptic Antigens

The infection or virus takes over the DNA of your thyroid cells to hide from your immune system. But your immune system still locates the virus and attacks it including the thyroid cells.

Infections That Cause Thyroid Disease


This causes mononucleosis and is considered to be in the herpes family. It is known as the “kissing disease” and can be in the body without any symptoms. Epstein-Barr is linked to diseases like Hashimoto’s, Graves, Lupus, Sjögren’s. and Fibromyalgia.


All viruses under the herpes family cause autoimmune disease. Once you catch the virus, it remains in your body for the rest of your life. Just because it is in the body doesn’t mean it is active. Its trigger is stress.  It causes your stress hormones to suppress your immune system leading to thyroid issues. It’s also believed to cause the hijacking effect or bystander activation effect discussed earlier.

Yersinia enterocolitica

This is a bacteria that can come from undercooked meat (mostly pork), milk, contaminated water, and more. It causes symptoms that can feel like you have food poisoning. The amino acids in this bacteria are very similar to your thyroid receptors. This causes your body to attack your thyroid. Research proves that the antibodies from Hashimotos and Graves disease correlate with this bacteria.

Helicobacter pylori

Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, is a bacteria that causes ulcers by attacking the stomach lining. This allows stomach acid to squeeze into the gut and damage the gut lining. This infection can come without any symptoms and is very common. Getting tested is so important for your thyroid journey because you can have this and not know it at all.

Hepatitis C

This virus is very common and attacks the liver. It affects over 70 percent of the population and is easy to miss as some people do not have symptoms. When the virus is active in the body, it can cause an autoimmune response. The autoimmune response leads to a thyroid condition.

How To Know If You Have Any Of These Triggers?

If you feel you may have any of these listed above, you should get tested.

  • Herpes appears in a blood test
  • Epstein-Barr appears in a blood test
  • Hepatitis C appears in a blood test
  • Yersinia appears from a stool test
  • H. pylori appears from a breath test, stool test, or blood test (although the blood test will only tell you if you’ve had H. Pylori, not if it’s still active)