What You Need to Know About Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

The thyroid gland. Located in the front of your neck, this little gland is responsible for making the hormones that control metabolism – which includes how fast your body uses calories, and controlling your heart rate. But when something goes wrong with the thyroid, it can cause a number of issues, including thyroid diseases. The most commonly known thyroid diseases are hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid) and hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). But a lesser well known thyroid disease is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is when the immune system attacks the thyroid.

Also known as Hashimoto’s disease, when this disease hits, the thyroid is unable to produce the amount of hormones the body needs for proper metabolism. Because of this, people with Hashimoto’s disease develop hypothyroidism, which according to WebMD, lead to symptoms such as:

weight gain
fatigue
paleness or puffiness of the face
joint and muscle pain
constipation
inability to get warm
difficulty getting pregnant
joint and muscle pain
hair loss or thinning, brittle hair
irregular or heavy menstrual periods
depression
slowed heart rate

The problem with this disease is that all too often it is misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, and is treated as such. But that doesn’t cure the underlying cause, which of course is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is why it’s so important for people who are experiencing these symptoms to visit their doctor as soon as possible.

If you have symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, your doctor will do an initial exam and order one or more tests. Sometimes, routine screening of thyroid function reveals a mildly underactive thyroid in a person with no symptoms. Tests used to find out if you have Hashimoto’s disease include an antibody test and a blood test to see if your body has the right amount of TSH and the thyroid hormone, T4.

First described in 1912 by Doctor Hashimoto Hakaru, Hashimoto’s disease has no known cure. However, with early detection and the right treatment, Hashimoto’s doesn’t have to have a negative effect on your health. So if you are or have been experiencing symptoms like the ones listed above, talk with your doctor and ask for him or her to test your thyroid.

Fortunately, Hashimoto’s disease isn’t hard to diagnose or treat, and in fact there are special thyroid treatment centers all over the country, including one inOrlando. These centers have doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the thyroid, and offer both traditional and innovated treatment options to their patients. If you or someone you love has a thyroid disease, and are close to one of these centers, these are often the very best places to get treatment.

How is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Treated?

Hashimoto’s disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an auto immune disease that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland which is part of the body’s endocrine system is in charge of regulating the body’s energy use, production of proteins, and regulation of the body’s metabolism. This gland produces the thyroid hormone which is important for the body’s proper growth and development.

Hashimoto’s disease is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. When the body has this auto immune disease, antibodies are made to attack the thyroid gland as if it were a foreign matter which is bad for the body. This damages the gland and affects the production of the thyroid hormone.

This auto immune disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism where the thyroid fails to produce the proper amount of thyroid hormone that the body needs. Individuals who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may experience symptoms similar to hypothyroidism, but in times, they may have bouts of hyperthyroidism as well where the inflamed thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is more common in women and can show up after pregnancy. To detect whether a person has Hashimoto’s disease, a blood workup is needed to check for the antibody levels in the blood. That simple test can help provide a diagnosis for the condition and can help determine which treatment would work best.

People with Hashimoto’s experience symptoms very similar to those of hypothyroidism. These are: depression, weight gain, brittle hair causing hair falling out, constipation, cramps, and swelling of the legs among other symptoms. If one suspects himself having this disease, a consult with the doctor is advised.

Treatments for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include: hormone replacement therapy, or intake of prescribed medications. In hormone replacement therapy, synthetic hormones that can help regulate the production of the thyroid hormone are given to patients with Hashimoto’s. When the gland is permanently damaged, hormone replacement therapy may be needed for life.

Medications can include iodine supplements to help balance out the needed levels of iodine for proper levels of thyroid hormone production. The thyroid needs iodine to produce the thyroid hormone, and insufficient amounts can cause problems for the gland.

When tremendous damage has occurred, the gland may have difficulty converting the iodine into its needed form and that is where medications come in. Always remember though, that proper diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease is needed before any of the treatments for it is used.Photo by joshjanssen

5 Warning Signs Your Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism Is Being Mismanaged

“Your thyroid levels are in the normal range now, take these antidepressant’s, they will help with your depression.” These may be some of the most dangerous words a low thyroid sufferer will ever hear.

According to the Endocrine Society, upwards to 80 or 90 percent of hypothyroidism in the United States, is caused from an autoimmune mechanism called Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid. This means the cause of the hypofunction is the immune system attacking your own gland.

Literally the immune system slowly chews up the thyroid gland and you lose normal thyroid hormone output. Over time your hormone levels will slowly decrease because it continually loses cells from the immune attack.

Here are 5 Warning Signs that you may have hypothyroidism from an immune mechanism, and that the treatment your are currently receiving is not adequate or complete enough for your particular condition:

1) The dose of your thyroid replacement hormone continually goes up over time.

If you are continually having your thyroid medication increased, this means that your are losing more and more thyroid function. Your immune system is most likely the culprit. Hormone replacement does not address the continual immune attack against the gland. If your doctor is not addressing the immune attack, you are going to continue to suffer.

2) You still suffer with hypothyroid symptoms, yet your doctor tells you that your thyroid is now “normal”.

If your latest labs show that your hormone levels are in the “normal range”, yet you continue to suffer with the same symptoms, you are most likely not getting the proper management of your condition.

This is a huge sign that you have Hashimoto’s disease. The proteins, called cytokines, that are used by the immune system to communicate amongst each other, block the hormone receptor sites. This means you can have normal hormone levels showing on a lab report, and still not have a normal thyroid metabolic responses. Working on the immune system is the only way to fix this problem.

3) Your doctor never checked for antibodies against the gland.

If you suffer with hypothyroidism, then you have a high probability of having Autoimmune Thyroid. If your doctor didn’t bother to check antibody levels, or refuses to check antibody levels, you are most likely not receiving the proper treatment. The two most important antibodies to check are Thyroid Perioxidase Antibodies (TPO Ab) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TBG Ab).


4) Your doctor continually checks your antibody levels.

This may seem counter-intuitive since I just mentioned that you should have your antibody levels checked. I include this because, replacement hormones do not affect the immune system. It makes no sense to continually check antibodies if the doctor is not doing any treatment to affect the immune system. If your doctor is trying to decrease your antibody levels with replacement therapy, you are not getting the proper treatment. Watch for this. It is a sign that your doctor really doesn’t understand the mechanisms causing your problem.

5) You begin to get individual prescriptions for various thyroid symptoms.

If you are getting treated with antidepressants for hypothyroid based depression, it means that the replacement hormone treatment is most likely not working. With Hashimoto’s you can have normal thyroid hormone levels and still suffer with symptoms, including depression. Treatment needs to be focused on immune modulation, if you want to fix the actual cause of the problem.

If you suffer with hypothyroidism, and you live in the United States, then the most likely reason you have this condition is from an autoimmune reaction called Hashimoto’s Disease. Treating this condition with replacement hormone, while ignoring the immune component, is like treating a slow bleed with blood transfusions and failing to stop the site of the bleed. Without immune modulation then the viscious cycle of thyroid gland destruction, by the immune system, will continue. You can use the warning signs outlined as a guide to help you determine if you are receiving the proper management of your hypothyroid condition.

Foods to Prevent and Treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis is defined as a condition of inflammation of the thyroid gland as a result of an autoimmune disease of that can lead to hypothyriodism due to weakened thyroid function.

Foods to prevent and treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
1. Brazil Nuts and Sunflower Seeds

In the study to investigate [Selenium and thyroidal function; the role of immunoassays], showed that that dietary intake of about 300 micro g of selenium daily may have a toxic effect on growth hormone and insulin like growth factor-1 metabolism, as well as in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Main adverse effects may be anorexia, diarrhea, depression, hemorrhage, liver and kidney necrosis, blindness, ataxia and respiratory disturbances. Dermatitis and CNS deficiency have also been described. It is concluded that selenium plays an important role in regulating thyroid function, as well as in the homeostasis of thyroid hormones through the action of selenoproteins, in which it incorporates as selenocystein(1). Others suggested that a different pattern of response to Se supplementation in HT relative to baseline TPOab titers, and this, if confirmed, could be used to identify which patients would benefit most from treatment. An improvement in thyroid function and morphology should be demonstrated before Se routine supplementation can be recommended in the treatment of HT(2).

2. Sea buckthorn
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) constitutes thorny nitrogen fixing deciduous shrub. Sea buckthorn(SBT) is primarily valued for its very rich vitamins A, B(1), B(12), C, E, K, and P; flavonoids, lycopene, carotenoids, and phytosterols. and therapeutically important since it is rich with potent antioxidants. Scientifically evaluated pharmacological actions of SBT are like inflammation inhibited by reduced permeability, loss of follicular aggregation of lymphocytes from the inflamed synovium and suppress lymphocyte proliferation, according to the study of Remedial Prospective of Hippophae rhamnoides Linn. (Sea Buckthorn). Patel CA, Divakar K, Santani D, Solanki HK, Thakkar JH, at the Department of Pharmacology, SSR College of Pharmacy, Sayli-Silvassa Road(3).