I love the community gathering on the Hypothyroid Mom Facebook page. A few months ago, one of my readers wrote that when her doctor discovered sky high TSH levels, he responded, “You hypo’d like a rock star!” Now you know I couldn’t get that image out of my mind. A common scenario with Hashimoto’s is one in which the thyroid condition fluctuates between being underactive and overactive. For these Hashimoto’s sufferers, their symptoms fluctuate from hypothyroid to hyperthyroid and back again and forth like a rock star partying hard then crashing with a hangover then partying hard again. Their TSH swings up and down like a rock star gone wild!
March is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month. With Hashimoto’s disease considered the number one cause of hypothyroidism in the US, you bet Hashimoto’s is on my mind this month.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks and destroys its own thyroid gland. Piece by piece your body chews up and destroys your own thyroid gland as if it is the enemy. In a healthy immune system, antibodies act as the body’s army to detect and destroy invaders not normally present in the body, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In the case of Hashimoto’s disease, a defective immune system wreaks havoc on the body by directing antibodies against its own thyroid gland as if it is a foreign invader.
Vulnerability To Other Autoimmune Diseases
A Hypothyroid Mom reader left this comment on my Facebook page that was so important it stuck in my mind for months. When you have one autoimmune disease you are more likely to develop others.
Teri Nichols wrote:
After researching in 2009, I asked to be tested for Tg-Ab, TPO-Ab, and TSIG, the 3 thyroid antibodies. All 3 of mine were very high. I also asked for T4 Free, T3 Free. Both of mine were very high. I also asked for these tests (lupus/sjogrens): ANA, ANA Patterns, SSA Antibody and SSB Antibody. My ANA was 1:640, pattern was speckled, and positive for SSA. I was dx with Graves and Hashis, and Sjogrens. Later, I asked for these tests: DQ ALPHA 1, DQ BETA 1, GLIADIN AB, IgA and GLIADIN AB, IgG. All came back positive, which means I have the pair of Celiac genes and gluten sensitive. Research your symptoms, find the possible diseases you may have, research the labwork for those diseases and politely insist your doctor runs the labwork for you. Good Luck
If nothing is done to calm down the autoimmune attack on your thyroid gland, the risks are high that your immune system will then begin attacking other parts of your body. You become vulnerable to develop other autoimmune diseases.
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Celiac Disease
- Addison’s Disease
- Cushing’s Disease
- Alopecia Areata
- Sjögren’s Syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Pernicious Anemia
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Mary Shomon provides an Autoimmune Disease Checklist, a list of symptoms that can point to different possible autoimmune conditions to bring to your doctor’s attention.
Many readers have contacted me suffering from multiple autoimmune diseases in addition to common hypothyroidism symptoms, yet their doctors have NEVER tested their thyroid antibodies.
Refusal To Treat Thyroid Antibodies
Many readers have written to say their thyroid antibodies are sky high but their doctors refuse to treat them because their TSH is “normal”. This is particularly disturbing given that in the early stage of Hashimoto’s TSH can be normal while the immune system continues attacking the thyroid. As well, for Hashimoto’s sufferers who cycle up and down with fluctuating TSH levels, their doctor may happen to test their TSH at the low point in the swings and mistakenly determine TSH is “normal”.
Mary Shomon wrote a great article about preventative thyroid treatment for treating antibodies when TSH is normal.
It’s a controversial subject, and many endocrinologists will simply dismiss you if you ask about it. But new research has been published that supports the understanding that autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease may be preventable, slowed, or even stopped entirely before it progresses to destruction of the thyroid gland and hypothyroidism.
Failure To Address The Autoimmune Condition
Chris Kresser from Medicine For The 21st Century wrote:
The standard care for a Hashimoto’s patient is to simply wait until the immune system has destroyed enough thyroid tissue to classify them as hypothyroid, and then give them thyroid hormone replacement. If they start to exhibit other symptoms commonly associated with their condition, like depression or insulin resistance, they’ll get additional drugs for those problems.
The obvious shortcoming of this approach is that it doesn’t address the underlying cause of the problem, which is the immune system attacking the thyroid gland. And if the underlying cause isn’t addressed, the treatment isn’t going to work very well – or for very long.
Many Hashimoto’s sufferers report that their thyroid drugs are not helping and their dosages keep being increased and increased. While of course there are many possible reasons for this including type of thyroid drug and dosage, there are also many possible underlying issues in an autoimmune condition that may be the issue. Be an advocate for yourself and insist your doctor investigate these factors or find a new thyroid doctor.
- Gluten intolerance
- Food allergies
- Gut issues
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Chronic inflammation
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Sex hormone imbalances
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Selenium deficiency
- Heavy metal toxicity
The Holtorf Medical Group provided a great guest blog post here at Hypothyroid Mom with treatment options to discuss with your doctor. Here is the post titled Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – It’s a Genetics Thing.
Natural Desiccated Thyroid for Hashimoto’s
There is controversy over whether natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) is an ideal treatment option for Hashimoto’s. Some suggest that NDTs are derived from pig thyroid which is biologically very similar to the human thyroid gland. The thinking goes that if your immune system is attacking your thyroid gland then adding a drug that closely resembles it would worsen the condition. While the opposing camp says that NDTs are a great option for Hashimoto’s sufferers.
The key is finding a doctor who will explore the thyroid drug options including NDTs to find the treatment that works best for YOU.
Dr. Alan Christianson provides a great description of Hashimoto’s.
Model and actress Gena Lee Nolin recently posted a link to Hypothyroid Mom 300+ Hypothyroidism Symptoms…Yes REALLY on her Thyroid Sexy Facebook page. In one day, literally thousands of thyroid sufferers visited my site. Gena Lee Nolin is the first internationally-known celebrity to tackle worldwide thyroid awareness. She has created a media sensation bringing a worldwide spotlight on thyroid awareness. Who knew all those years ago when I watched Gena Lee Nolin on the popular series Baywatch that she would be mentioning me to her fans? It’s amazing how life works out.