Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disorder and the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.
Diseases and disorders of the thyroid are becoming an epidemic in the United States. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA):
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- A staggering 60 percent are unaware they have thyroid problems.
- More than 12% of the U.S. will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime.
- Women are much more likely to have thyroid problems than men – 5 to 8 times more likely.
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease?
The thyroid is a gland located in the lower part of the neck which resembles the shape of a butterfly. It produces hormones that are vital to the health of the body and serve the purposes of helping the body maintain proper temperature, use energy, and maintain the proper functioning of the heart, brain, and other organs.
The term thyroiditis is defined as “inflammation of the thyroid”. There can be many different reasons for this inflammation, the most common being Hashimoto’s disease. It is actually an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid causing chronic inflammation. Over time this can damage the thyroid, rendering it unable to produce thyroid hormones, and leading to hypothyroidism which is an underactive thyroid. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis disease is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease
Because the damage to the thyroid caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis happens slowly over time, there may be no signs or symptoms that anything is wrong until much later in the stages of the disease. Eventually however essential body’s processes slow down and the following symptoms may show up:
- An enlarged thyroid called a goiter
- Thyroid failure
- Hypothyroidism symptoms which include:
- Weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Inability to keep warm
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Slower reflexes
- Slower heart rate
- Inability to exercise
- Muscle pain
- Irregular menstruation
- Painful menstruation
The symptoms can also be the result of other diseases and health issues, therefore proper diagnosis is critical in order to address Hashimoto’s thyroiditis disease.
Diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease
The thyroid gland will be felt by your doctor to check for an enlarged thyroid. Your doctor will also look for symptoms of hypothyroidism such as dry skin, weight gain, hair loss, slower heart rate, slow reflexes, and swelling. Additionally lab testing will be performed to confirm a diagnosis.
A complete thyroid test looks at six separate parameters. Many doctors routinely do only two. These six labs for thyroid labs are:
- TSH – stand for thyroid stimulating hormone and is produced by the pituitary. The TSH tells the thyroid gland to produce T4.
- T4 – is the thyroid hormone produced by the gland. It is used by the body to run the metabolism and it must be converted to T3.
- Free T3 is the form of thyroid we want which controls the overall metabolism.
- Reverse T3 – for different reasons the body can convert T4 to a form of T3 that is not metabolically active – reverse T3.
- Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) – common antibody found in disease of thyroid, like Hashimoto’s
- Thyroglobulin (TGAb) – common antibody found in disease of thyroid, like Hashimoto’s
How We Treat Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Disease at LifeWorks
At LifeWorks Wellness Center we know that the body is a synergistic system and that all parts play a role in the proper health and functioning of the whole. Therefore when we address symptoms of hypothyroidism, we assess the underlying issues that could be affecting proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Here are some areas we address and treat:
- Iodine Levels – One underlying issue we look at is iodine levels in the body. Iodine is a key mineral that affects the proper functioning of the thyroid and iodine deficiency may be present.
- Bromide Levels – Another mineral that may be affecting the thyroid is excess bromide which can cause malfunctioning of the thyroid.
- Toxic Chemicals / Environmental Issues – In addition there may also be toxic chemicals in the body and other elements from the environment that may be inhibiting proper functioning of the thyroid.
- The Endocrine System – Another point we consider is that the thyroid gland is only one part of the whole endocrine system, therefore treating just the thyroid is not usually the way to treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis disease. We look at the whole endocrine system (including adrenal glands as well as the ovaries in female patients) and the entire body to assess the patient’s condition and appropriately treat what we find.
- Diet – We also look at how diet affects the body and the thyroid.
- Enzymes and Cofactors – Finally the body needs to be able to convert T4 into T3 and sometimes the body is missing the enzymes and the cofactors to those enzymes necessary for this conversion. This may be why patients who have been put on synthetic thyroid hormones such as T4 do not respond favorably to the drugs.
Once we gain a proper diagnosis of hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, we can dig down deeper and look for the underlying causes that contributed to the condition and address those factors as well. This lays the foundation for a more thorough recovery.
We have been helping patients with thyroid issues for many years and have extensive experience in natural thyroid treatment. We look forward to helping you overcome your thyroid issues so you can lead an energetic, fulfilling life.