Apr 9, 2014

My Journey into Thyroid Disorder - part 2

This is Part 2 in a 3-part series on thyroid disorder by Erin.

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the basics of the most common thyroid disorder, hypothyroidism, and its most common cause, Hashimoto’s disease.  In today’s post, I’d like to discuss how to identify if Hashimoto’s is the cause of your low thyroid (or high thyroid) symptoms and what you can do about it.

If you are currently being treated for low thyroid (hypothyroidism) it is very important that you be tested for Hashimoto’s. 
There are TWO blood tests for this.  Most doctors will only run one.  You must specifically request both.  The tests to request are a TPO Ab (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and a TgAb (thyroglobulin antibodies).  One or both of these may be positive in Hashimoto’s.  It is also possible to have negative results on both but still have Hashimoto’s.   Confused? Read this.

Even if your doctor says your thyroid levels are “normal”, you should be tested for Hashimoto’s if you are having symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
The only test your doctor will likely run to check your thyroid function is called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).  Thyroid hormones can fluctuate widely with Hashimoto’s, so a one-time blood test of a single hormone does not give an accurate picture of true thyroid or immune system health.

It’s also important to understand that “normal” lab range values are determined by the lab results seen in medical patients.  With thyroid disorders being so widespread, you can see why the normal TSH lab range may not be the optimal range.  The standard lab range for TSH is .45 to 4.5.  Most likely, this is the range your doctor is referring to when he says your results are “normal.”  The functional range at which the thyroid performs optimally, however, is 1.8 to 3.0.

If you do not address the health of your immune system, you can continue to develop autoimmunity to other parts of your body. 
The most common progression associated with Hashimoto’s is autoimmunity to the small intestine (Celiac disease) and your stomach lining (pernicious anemia).  I personally know several people with Hashimoto’s who have developed other autoimmune conditions including vitiligo and lichen planus.

It is possible to experience hyperthyroid symptoms as well as hypothyroid symptoms when you have Hashimoto’s.
Hyperthyroid symptoms include heart palpitations, increased pulse rate (even at rest), insomnia, feeling nervous and emotional, night sweats, and difficulty gaining weight.

When thyroid tissue is destroyed by your immune system, the hormones stored in that tissue are released into the blood stream, which speeds up the body’s metabolism.  This scenario causes the hyperthyroid symptoms.

Going on unwarranted thyroid replacement can cause more problems than it alleviates. 
Your pituitary gland will stop stimulating the thyroid to produce its own hormones, weakening those pathways and possibly causing replacement hormone dependence.

If you have Hashimoto’s, you need to find a health professional with experience treating autoimmune disorders. 
I chose to go to a chiropractor recommended on Dr. Kharrazian’s website and was not disappointed.  General physicians do not typically test for Hashimoto’s because it does not change their standard treatment (thyroid replacement hormone).  The conventional treatment for autoimmune diseases is steroids to suppress the immune system, but steroids are not recommended for Hashimoto’s.

Again, if you’d like to know more, I highly recommend the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid SymptomsWhen My Lab Tests Are Normal? by Datis Kharrazian.  Dr. Kharrazian is known as one of the leading experts in the non-pharmaceutical treatment of autoimmune disorders.  You can find out more at www.thyroidbook.com.

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