If you are suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, dry and brittle hair and nails, hair loss, constipation, cold hands and feet, depression, joint or muscle pain, difficulty getting pregnant or have been diagnosed with low-thyroid, you may be suffering from a condition that needs more support than thyroid replacement therapy. While a small percentage of people have non- autoimmune related low-thyroid, you may be one of the millions of people suffering from Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis, the number one cause of low thyroid.
What is the Thyroid
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the throat, where it is wrapped around the windpipe. The thyroid gland produces chemical messengers (hormones) that regulate metabolism and energy production. Thyroid hormone is often referred to as the master hormone because it affects every system in the body. When the thyroid gland is off-balance, the body cannot properly use food to generate energy and you see this reflected in weight gain and fatigue, among other symptoms.
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is an autoimmune condition that results when the immune system attacks the thyroid tissues. In this situation, the immune system mistakes thyroid cells for unfamiliar invaders, and launches an inflammatory response directed to destroy pathogens.
Over time, this destruction results in progressive hypothyroidism, or low thyroid activity. Although thyroid antibodies are often untested in those exhibiting hypothyroid symptoms, researchers suspect approximately 90% of low thyroid sufferers have autoimmune thyroiditis, most of whom are women (1, 2). This is an important statistic because effective treatment for autoimmunity is vastly different than the standard protocol for low thyroid. For the millions of people suffering from autoimmune-induced low thyroid that are being treated with thyroid replacement therapy, alone, a degenerative disease is manifesting under the surface that will eventually cause debilitating and far-reaching symptoms.
Although, HT is widely agreed upon in conventional and functional medicine circles to be the number one cause of low thyroid, most patients are not thoroughly tested for this condition. In addition, this condition can lay dormant or produce very few symptoms for years as the disease slowly progresses. Because low thyroid symptoms are easily mistaken for other conditions, this disease is often overlooked, and patients are either misdiagnosed or told that it is all in their head and to go home.
How do I know if I have Hashimoto’s?
Thyroid function is complex and involves a relationship between the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and thyroid glands. However, adrenal glands, and other systems throughout the body play a role in a healthy thyroid. The best way to identify the root cause of your thyroid imbalance is with proper testing. The problem with conventional approaches to thyroid, is in large part, the lack of essential testing. Most practitioners only test biproducts of the pituitary and thyroid glands. However, that approach does not consider countless other indicators of a damaged thyroid hormone process. Additionally, autoimmune testing is required to identify Hashimoto’s. From there, the correct diagnostics can point the doctor and patient to the root causes of their symptoms, so we can correct the problem at the source instead of unsuccessfully trying to manage symptoms.
- Nobuyuki, A. (1988). Autoimmunity and hypothyroidism. Baillière’s Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism;2, (3). 591-617. .
- Sanyal, D. (2014). Spectrum of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Clinical, biochemical & cytomorphologic profile. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 140(6), 710–712.