90% of people taking thyroid hormones will fail to feel normal: Why?

90% of people taking thyroid hormones will fail to feel normal. Why?

I’m always intrigued when I find thyroid experts who have thyroid disease themselves. How can you truly understand what a thyroid patient goes through if you haven’t walked in their shoes? Add to that this expert is a man, and yes men get thyroid disease too.

Written by Steven Geanopulos, DC, DACNB

My personal journey began nearly a decade before discovering I had Hashimoto’s autoimmune reaction. As a young doctor in NYC just getting started in practice and life the year 2000 was pivotal in my life. I had graduated from school in 1996 and was completing my graduate work in neurology over the next couple of years. I then purchased my own practice with a partner in upper Manhattan, got engaged, bought out my partner, got married, bought a house, and had a baby all in 18 months. It was a whirlwind of activity and excitement and stress.

At this time I was 32 years old and I started to notice my health dramatically changing. Up to 31 years of age, I practiced the healthy lifestyle that I preached in my practice. I was fit, active and enjoyed outdoor sports like rock climbing, mountain climbing, basketball, soccer and a vigorous regimen of going to the gym regularly. So what happened?

I experienced unexplained weight gain, I began to injure my joints with minimal activity, I experienced insomnia, fatigue, brain fog, irritable bowel symptoms. I had 3 knee operations, dislocated my left shoulder, suffered impingement syndrome in the right shoulder that lasted 8 months, 6 months of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), left Achilles tendonopathy that lasted 3 years. The brain fog was so severe that I felt if you were a patient of mine after 3PM you got a doctor with an IQ that dropped a few points. Yet I was living the exemplary lifestyle. I thought if I just kept on pushing and did more of what was “good for me” I would beat this. I would go to the gym on Saturday morning, come home and sleep for what seemed like the rest of the weekend. I had 2 small children who must have been wondering what was wrong with their dad. Why doesn’t he play with us?

Without going through the details, after discovering I was suffering from Hashimoto’s, I aggressively pursued an education in functional medicine combined it with my knowledge and experience as a doctor who practiced the principles of functional neurology, I was able to restore my health over a 12 month time period. Now at the age of 44, I am doing things physically with the same ability and energy I did when I was in my mid twenties. Brain fog is a distant memory and I am sharpest in the evening when I do my presentations in my community after a long day at the office.

As you read through my list of symptoms you will notice that these are the symptoms of hypothyroidism. However I did not have hypothyroidism. I had the autoimmune response that eventually results in hypothyroidism but my thyroid tests were normal. This may seem confusing so allow me to explain.

9 of 10 cases of hypothyroid symptoms are caused by autoimmunity (with or without hypothyroidism confirmed by blood tests). Autoimmunity refers to what happens when the immune system, which is supposed to go after foreign proteins in our blood, instead turns against our own proteins. In short we are attacking ourselves the same way the immune system would attack a virus or foreign bacteria.

If the immune system decides to attack the tissue of the nervous system we are given a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and we are sent to see a neurologist (who manages the symptoms associated with the tissue being attacked) . If the immune system decides to attack the tissue in the intestines we are given a diagnosis of celiac or crohns disease and we are sent to a gastroenterologist who treats and manages the symptoms associated with the tissue being attacked. If the immune system attacks the tissue in our joints, we are given a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and we are sent to a rheumatologist, who treats the symptoms associated with the tissue being attacked. If the immune system attacks the proteins associated with thyroid tissue, we are given a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s and we see an endocrinologist who treats the symptoms associated with the tissue being attacked. The problem is, none of these doctors are immunologists and do not address what is driving the autoimmune response.

There are over 80 known autoimmune diseases and there are at least that many unknown autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases, if looked at as one single group, far outnumbers the cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke put together. The numbers have increased 400% over the past decade.

The points to take home here are:

  • If you have autoimmune driven hypothyroidism, you still have to address the autoimmune component or your immune system will continue to attack your thyroid unabated resulting in unnecessary destruction of tissue. You have to learn what in your environment may be driving the autoimmunity and what can you do to protect your blood stream from the inappropriate passage of offending proteins.
  • It is very rare for people to have one autoimmune condition. I happen to have 3 known autoimmune conditions. The longer you wait the greater the likelihood you will develop more autoimmune conditions.
  • The symptoms of unabated autoimmune reactions can cause all of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism, without hypothyroidism. Meaning your blood work is normal.
  • If your blood tests are made normal by medication like synthroid or thyroxine you may continue to have hypothyroid symptoms because underlying metabolic processes are not being addressed.
  • Men have thyroid conditions and symptoms too.

What has made the greatest difference to me in dealing with Hashimoto’s disease

I believe the turning point for me was when I realized that this was not a thyroid problem (only) and that it was autoimmune.

The next step for me was determining what was driving the autoimmunity. Autoimmunity is first initiated. Once initiated it is not reversible, however it does not have to be a destructive force or result in symptoms unless a catalyst drives it forward. Autoimmunity can stay in remission for many years if not a lifetime if you can discover and eliminate its driving force.

For me that catalyst (or driving force) came from one place, my gut or gastrointestinal system. Laboratory testing revealed I had 3 different causes of destruction to the lining of my intestines that resulted in a constant flow of large undigested proteins from food into my blood stream resulting in an ongoing, chronic, immune response causing high levels of tissue destruction.

I had to eliminate those sources and do the best I could to repair my gut and do so on a regular basis. My lifestyle changes were related to food, I tested for 24 of the most common IgG (immune) food sensitivities and discovered a ½ dozen or so that were causing a significant immune response. Many people trying to learn more about their autoimmunity are simply removing gluten and hoping for results. Sometimes we get results with just that, sometimes the results are temporary and sometimes there is no change. I believe a more thorough exploration into the food proteins that are a problem for each individual. If your doctor refuses to run food sensitivity or other extensive lab testing, you also have the option to order it yourself.

For me one of the most significant problems was egg protein. I also was not able to get my hormonal health under control until I addressed abnormal blood sugar regulation (not diabetes) and an anemic pattern (not anemia). It’s important to note that we may have a blood sugar regulation and anemic pattern building that is visible on a blood panel, and not have diagnosed anemia and diabetes. Our doctors need to recognize patterns before they are a diagnosed disease. Diseases are much more difficult and time consuming to deal with. Identifying a trend yields a much better outcome.

This may sound crazy but I feel fortunate to have personal experience with Hashimoto’s. I consider the time spent sick and not knowing what was wrong with me as tuition paid for my unique education. I am grateful for the opportunity to have 1st hand experience with a condition that so many of my patients have.

I tell all of my patients and clients. You must be educated in the process of restoring health and immune integrity. I do not expect you to become a doctor but I DO expect you to become an expert in YOU and what YOU need to express health.

About Steven Geanopulos, DC, DACNB

Dr. Steven Geanopulos is a  Chiropractic Neurologist from the New York/New Jersey area, with a private practice in Manhattan. He attended Parker University in Dallas, Texas where he received both his undergraduate degree in Human Anatomy and Doctor of Chiropractic degree. With a post graduate education in Neurology, Dr. Geanopulos was awarded Diplomate status from the prestigious American Chiropractic Neurology Board, a rare distinction shared by fewer than 600 doctors worldwide. Immediately following his education in functional neurology, Dr. Geanopulos pursued an extensive education in functional medicine that is an ongoing passion. With his vast knowledge base on all-natural healthcare Dr. Geanopulos is a sought after public figure, frequently speaking for large groups, associations, and academic institutions.

READ NEXT: 12 shocking symptoms of gluten sensitivity

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini M.A., Ed.M., founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

Comments

  1. william R says

    august 5th 2019.
    I was on a levothyroxin for almost 15 years.
    during hat time i acquired twelve of the thirteen symptoms of hypothyroidism.
    Then I was coughing and gagging. Si I ask my doctor to give me Synthroid. I had it for 6 months and all the hypothyroidism were removed except brain fog.
    I missed the pill few days and i felt better. so i stopped taking it.
    My doctor son calling me crying saying that i will die if I do not take it.
    I was dying for a year then i decide to reduce the strength to half 150Ug to 75Ug.
    taking 75ug for six moths then again I forgot to take it for few days.
    My blood test showed high TSH 12 reading.
    I gave up and now going with how i feel.
    I play sand volley and walk 5 miles a day.
    I have not seen doctor for 1.5 year even though i am covered and 77 yrs of age.
    i am not active anymore because my whole day is taking care of my mom at age 104 and 105 in coming October.
    I have been taking care of my mom for two year and 9 months.
    I prepare healthy food and give her the synthoroid the only medication she is taking.
    Now I have a problem. My mom was in the hospital at age 102 and was giving Haldol pills. her hair is turning black indication that her mobility brain was damaged.
    I am trying to find any solution for that problem.
    Pharmacist and nurses said she should have never taking that medication.
    now she cannot stand up.

  2. Kathy Kalal says

    I would like to know if hypothyroidism can cause you to loose your sex drive. I have absolutely no intrest in it at all. I also find it uncomfortable even painful at times.

  3. I am a 61 yr old Female. At age 20 I had walking pneumonia as I was getting better I started having symptoms of pregnancy. Sure enough, 9 months later a bouncing baby girl. When she was almost 2 was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance (mood swings) 6 weeks on an antidepressant and back to normal self. When she was 3 I was diagnosed with Pelvic inflammatory. Then told it was a cyst on my ovary that came & went when I ovulated. Very painful but after some antibiotics it went away. Then came the anemia & hypoglycemic. And then with tyroididis 2 weeks of taking aspirin and it was gone. All of this before I was 24 yrs old. Then I had another baby. Everything went well, until she was about 6 months old. After gardening (with gloves) my hands broken out in these small blister looking things- turned out to be strep. By now I am 27. Short time later started getting migraines, several times a week of debilitating headaches. Then what seemed like suddenly I can’t pick up s gallon of milk and pour it without spilling it. Then overwhelmingly tired all the time and my back hurt all the time. Doctor told me it’s all in your head. Found a new doctor. Tons of tests, to be told I had Fibromyalgia. Went to physical therapy recommended by my step sister. That man saved my life. After initial testing they found I had less than 50% strength in my hands, arms, had lost small amount in my legs. My back was in bad shape. Spasms, knots etc… years later I was coaching my daughter’s softball team with very few visits to PT. Now in mid 30’s. When I hit 42 things started going haywire again. I got very sick with a virus. Went to the doctor. My thyroid was high. Went to 2 endo’s. One wanted to take out my thyroid, the other said I had nodules on my thyroid. Wait until it is worse, will do radiation treatment I’m told. Went through menepause at 43. Nothing has been right since. Now I have diabetes, thyroid issues, neuropathy. Feel like crap all the time. My doctor is no help- once again said “no single pill will help”. At my wits end. I was told at the beginning that these autoimmune issues that I had had also been diagnosed in many patients but no one explores why. No “cure” for any of them I’m told. Now having sleep issues. Barely maintaining. How do you find a doctor that actually will do something to help!?

  4. KATHERINE M ENBERG says

    my mother is a nurse. my father was a cardiologist (deceased 15 years and no one seems to remember where i come from) . i am a biologist. when my daughter was 3 i was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. i have lived a mostly healthy lifestyle. i felt like i wasn’t sick but the immediate suggestion was complete removal of my thyroid. this blog saved my life. that and ten years of fighting with doctors that told me i was just getting old (at 35) and to just deal with it. i have been threatened with loosing my children and being locked up for medical non compliance for trying to manage my symptoms. doctors need to remind other doctors that listening to their patients is an actual thing .. keep up the good fight. thank you

  5. Dianna gates says

    It is never too late to feel better. Ask pharmacy who prescribes the good thyroid meds, call doctors and ask if they prescribe them. Ask around. Find a enviornmentalist, naturalist, someone who cares.

  6. Linda Stiefvater says

    I had a total thyroidectomy at the age of 17. I am now 67 and have never had any testing beyond T3, T4, and Tsh . I have had so many serious health problems, have seen many Endocrinologists, and it was never suggested to me to have any further types of testing. Thank you for your info.

  7. kimberly says

    I would like to know what he did specifically to get his health under control

  8. Arrrrghh! I can’t win! Have got hypothyroidism and am on immuno-suppressants for a transplanted kidney. I’m f*cked.

  9. Carol Lawson says

    Can you have Haiti’s and not have a thyroid? Mine was removed due to tumors but my health has deteriorated. I test positive for anti bodies and my thyroid levels bounce all over the place. Thanks!

  10. I thing I have hachimoto problem I am on 100 levothyrox can you advice me what to do please I stopped sport cycling I use to cycle 90 km

    • I have Hashimoto’s and have taken 100 mg Levoxyl, then Cytomel when I had muscle and joint pain from the Levoxyl. Then the doctor decided I’d be better off with both levolyl and cytomel, again pain, and heart palpations. I’m now on amour thyroid ( from a pig) and have fibromyalgia pain pretty bad. I tried the pure form (gel caps) of synthetic thyroid and had a seizure. He put me back on T3, but I’m having heart palpations and chest pain on 2 cytomel daily . I’m afraid to stop taking thyroid supplements altogether, as my TSH is 68.68 way high or (way too low)

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