Do You Have Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Hypothyroidism Disease (AITD)?


The most important reason to know about Hashimoto’s and whether you have it, is so you can treat it effectively. This condition indicates that the problem is with your immune system and not your thyroid.  A low-functioning thyroid is the symptom of your body’s immune system destroying thyroid tissue. If you don’t get your immune system under control, then you won’t be able to fix the underlying problem with your thyroid gland.

Hashimoto’s is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States. It affects around 7-8% of the population. So how do you know if you have AITD? The body creates antibodies to the thyroid gland tissue. So, an antibody serum test can be performed to diagnose AITD. This can sometimes be tricky, since the antibodies are only present when there is a flare up of the autoimmune disease, and in most cases, there is a period of intermittence of the disease.

The thyroid fluctuates between hypo and hyper states.  In a hyper state, the thyroid tissue is being destroyed and there is more of it in the blood than should be; and the opposite is true for hypo, which creates an opposite set of conditions. So, it’s good to know what the signs and symptoms of both look like.  Take a look at them below.

Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

These are the most common symptoms of hypo:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry Hair
  • Hair that falls out easily
  • Weight Gain despite diet and exercise
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Poor circulation in the hands and feet
  • Loss of outermost eyebrow
  • Needing increased amounts of sleep to function

The other component of hypothyroidism is: Hashimoto’s hyperthyroidism, which is defined by having an autoimmune component. In this case, the symptoms will look like the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nervousness
  • Night sweats
  • Increased pulse rate even while resting
  • Agitation

How do you confirm AITD?

First, we measure for thyroid antibodies, which indicated that the body’s immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. Here are the tests that will help to confirm if you have this form of hypothyroidism:  The first, is a serum antibody test called “peroxidase antibodies” (TPO Ab). TPO makes T4 and T3 out of thyroglobulin and iodine and it is the most common target for the immune system to attack. The other test, is the TGB serum antibody test. Thyroid -binding globulins are a protein that helps transport thyroid hormones through the blood. Both of these tests, along with symptoms, can be used to diagnose Hashimoto’s. You can also see, that if these two compounds are being destroyed by the immune system, there is going to be less available T3 for the body to utilize.

When someone has an autoimmune disease, they are 3 times more likely to have other autoimmune diseases as well. This is called “polyglandular autoimmune syndrome.” It’s important to understand that these markers are not always in measurable amounts in the blood. The immune system might be in a dormant state; not in an active flared up when you testing for these markers, possibly resulting in a negative value.

This is why it’s very important to do a comprehensive medical history, as well as a physical exam, in addition to blood work.  There are a few more tests I want to share with you.

More Tests

In order to understand all the aspects of the thyroid gland, it’s important to run some other test that don’t usually make it into the average thyroid panel when my patients come from their primary doctor. Most often, TSH is the only marker that conventional medicine will run for determining if there is a hypothyroid condition. This is problematic, and I often see people who have normal lab ranges and they think they’re crazy because their doctor is telling them that nothing is wrong with them. This is because the problem is either upstream in the pituitary gland, or down steam in the conversion process.

Most of the active thyroid hormone T3, is not created in the thyroid. That’s right, it gets converted from T4 in other parts of the body for use, primarily the liver and the stomach. So, I like to also run a T4 free and T3 free test to see if conversion is a problem. It may be necessary to test for the Thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test as well.

To really understand what is happening with your thyroid health, you need to have all the pieces of the puzzle. This will help you and your doctor determine the best approach to healing your thyroid. Now, you know some of the signs and symptoms of AITD, in addition to some of the tests to identify it. In further articles, I will talk about the causes of AITD and what you can do about it.

 

factors that have been shown by research to trigger AITD. 

 

  1. Studies have shown that gluten interferes with thyroid function. (2) Gluten can mimic the molecular structure of the thyroid tissue, specifically the protein part of gluten called “gliadin.” Remember, that autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) and gluten intolerance are so commonly found together, it’s important to assume there is a reaction to gluten until you are tested for Celiac Disease.
  2. Environmental toxins inhibit the thyroid gland function. Heavy metals like lead, chlorinated or fluorinated water also have been shown to wreak havoc on thyroid health. Plastics, BPA, or other halogens like fluoride or chlorine, can add even more stress to the thyroid.

 

  1. Stress affects the entire body and thus, creates more work for the thyroid. Stress creates cortisol, higher inflammation levels, reduces testosterone, and if prolonged, causes low levels of the active T3.

 

  1. Insulin resistance affects the ability of the T3 to bind with appropriate carriers.

 

  1. Vitamin D deficiency also inhibits binding of the T3 hormone.

 

  1. PCOS Disruption of hormones inhibits T3 binding.

 

  1. Chronic infections and inflammation, specifically EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus)

 

 

Conclusion:

In future articles, I will go into more detail about these 7 major factors that are known to trigger AITD. Successful treatment is dependent on an accurate assessment and diagnosis. You now have some tools to get to the root of the cause of your thyroid condition. The first step, is to determine if you have Hashimoto’s. That is done though assessment of symptoms and specific lab tests. Then, eliminate the factors that have been show to trigger a flare up of the immune system.