Apr 7, 2014

My Journey with Thyroid Disorder


It is with great excitement I post the first installment of a three-part series on thyroid disorders.  I think you will enjoy and learn from this series whether or not you suffer with an unhealthy thyroid. 

Written by my friend, Erin, affectionately and respectfully I refer to her as my "researching friend."  This girl loves science and learning.  Trained as a physical therapist, she understands the body and how it was created to function.  When I have a question about disease, or anything that I think she might have researched, I definitely ask her opinion.  She is a true blessing to me.    - Julie


My thyroid crashed during my freshman year of college.  I experienced weight gain, brain fog, fatigue, hair loss, depression, and was freezing cold all the time.  For several years, I went to an endocrinologist for treatment of my “hypothyroidism.”  Once I realized that the procedure seemed fairly straightforward, I let my primary care physician handle it.  All that was ever suggested to me was to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone replacement (Synthroid, Armour Thyroid, etc) for the rest of my life.  I went once a year to have my TSH level tested through blood work, the doctor would adjust my replacement levels accordingly, and I would go on my way.

What I didn’t know was that an estimated 90% of hypothyroidism cases are actually caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s.  

I have learned a great deal more about my condition during the past two years.  

I’d like to share what I’ve learned in hopes that I can save someone from the struggle I’ve been through and perhaps even prevent them from having to take thyroid replacement for the rest of their life.

Thyroid disorders are common and autoimmune diseases are skyrocketing.
Chances are, either you are suffering from a thyroid-related illness or know someone who does.  It affects an estimated 27 million Americans, half of which go undiagnosed.

Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) affects many other functions in your body.
Thyroid function affects your brain, pituitary gland, gallbladder, liver, blood calcium levels, body temperature, intestinal health, hormonal balance, growth hormones (for regenerating cells and tissues), fat burning, insulin and glucose metabolism, cholesterol, and stomach acid.
Thyroid function is necessary to sustain life.  You can only live without a thyroid gland if you take thyroid hormone replacement.

More than half of the diagnosed cases of hypothyroidism are due to an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease.
In fact, Hashimoto’s causes more cases of hypothyroidism than iodine deficiency in the U.S.

Hashimoto’s is NOT a thyroid disease. 
It is an immune system disorder.  Your immune system is out of whack and is attacking and destroying your healthy thyroid gland.

Hashimoto’s commonly develops during pregnancy or soon after childbirth due to fluctuations in the immune system.

There are several possible triggers for Hashimoto’s.
These include vitamin D deficiency, environmental toxicity (like heavy metals), chronic infections and inflammation, gluten intolerance, estrogen surges, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance, and genetic susceptibility.

Interesting fact: More than 90% of people with an autoimmune thyroid disease have a genetic defect that affects the vitamin D receptors in their cells.  This defect negatively impacts their ability to process vitamin D.

Thyroid disorder is an extremely complex topic. 
Believe me when I say that I’ve only scratched the surface in this post.  If you’d like to know more, I highly recommend the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When MyLab 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.

Part 2 in this series will cover how to identify if you have Hashimoto’s and what treatments are available.


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