Countless Americans are suffering from hypothyroidism and the terrible symptoms that accompany a diagnosis.
If you are one of the many who are experiencing this rise in chronic illness, you should note that the underlying cause of your thyroid problem may have gone undiagnosed.
Those with underactive thyroids are usually given thyroid hormone replacement therapy, but that is not a long-term solution and acts more as a Band-Aid than anything else. The only way to truly address the illness and find long-term solutions is to find the root cause of the illness. And when it comes to thyroid function, the leading cause behind thyroid dysfunction is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s? What’s That?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is what happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks your thyroid tissue. As with any autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes your thyroid cells for dangerous intruders and destroys them. Ultimately, your thyroid becomes less capable of producing the hormones you need for many bodily functions.
As time passes, the destruction of your thyroid cells leads to hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid activity.
Although HT is one of the most common causes of an underactive thyroid, conventional medicine practitioners often forego the testing of thyroid antibodies.
This is confusing seeing as though many researchers propose that almost 90% of individuals with an underactive thyroid have HT.
When considering how the treatment approach for an autoimmune condition drastically differs from the standard approach of thyroid treatment, this becomes an unbelievable fact. There are thousands of individuals suffering from an underactive thyroid, and yet, conventional practitioners are only treating them with thyroid replacement therapy; they are ignoring the autoimmune condition that lies beneath the surface. This will ultimately lead to debilitating and extensive symptoms.
Why Is Hashimoto’s So Hard to Diagnose?
This is a difficult question to answer, because conventional doctors and functional medical doctors alike agree that Hashimoto’s is the leading cause of thyroid dysfunction, and yet most patients are not given the in-depth testing required to catch this condition. It is true, however, that some individuals’ HT symptoms lay dormant for years, even decades, as the disease quietly progresses. Additionally, the symptoms that accompany an underactive thyroid can easily be mistaken for other conditions. For example, fatigue, weight gain, and inflammation are often symptoms of far more common illnesses.
Among the millions of Americans who suffer from this condition, new mothers have a higher risk of developing HT and having it go undetected in testing.
New mothers are often tired, so their symptom of fatigue is often misdiagnosed as just a natural part of being an “exhausted parent,” or, if given a medical diagnosis, it is often something along the lines of postpartum depression. Similarly, women who are entering the perimenopausal stage in life are often told that their symptoms are a product of hormonal changes that come with aging. These “diagnoses” are inadequate. There should be more done to uncover the issue, as these women may find themselves with severe thyroid destruction when the issue is actually found.
Do I Have Hashimoto’s?
The best way to find out if you have HT is to get tested. If you do, in fact, have HT, your TSH and T4 levels will most likely be out of optimal ranges. A better way to reach a diagnosis, however, is to find a functional medicine practitioner who can test for thyroid antibodies. As with most autoimmune conditions, the presence of HT is like a pendulum, meaning that it swings between dormant and active stages. When we find the antibodies, that’s a signal that your immune system has flagged the thyroid cells as a danger to your body and has targeted them. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) are indicators of HT. The most commonly elevated antibodies are TPO; less commonly found is TgAb, but make sure your practitioner still tests for it.
Finding the Doctor Who Can Get the Job Done
Your thyroid hormone is crucial to so many metabolic processes:
- Bowel movements
- Nail growth
This means if you are suffering from symptoms of (or have been diagnosed) with HT, it’s important that you find a practitioner who can provide and understand the accurate and necessary tests, offer you a proper diagnosis, and get you on effective treatments that are individualized for your specific genetic makeup.