What is Hashimoto’s Disease (And Why You Might Have it)
By William Lovett, M.D.
A week ago, when someone asked me about how often I see Hashimoto’s Disease (Autoimmune Thyroiditis), my usual answer was about 1 in 15 women and about 1 in 100 men in my office. But this past week changed, as 4 out of our first 10 consults were women with a new Hashimoto’s diagnosis. I was amazed.
It brought to mind the last conference I attended recently. One of the consistent themes was Hashimoto’s. The biggest issue hormone providers see is that almost all the Hashimoto’s patients they see have been told by their medical provider that their thyroid labs are normal even though they have symptoms of hypothyroidism.
This rings true for Your Wellness Center, too, so I thought I would spend a few minutes diving into what Hashimoto’s is and what it means for you. To understand Hashimoto’s, it’s important to understand how your thyroid plays a crucial role.
It all starts with the thyroid
Simplistically speaking, there are only really 3 parts to the thyroid:
- The structure itself
- The hormones coming in and out
- The binding of the hormones at the receptor site
Your thyroid and its functioning are critically important; without them, you will die. It’s responsible for a lot of activities that occur at the cellular level of every cell in your body. Plus, it controls your metabolism!
The thyroid also communicates with other organs in your body, including your hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain, the adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and even ovaries and testicles.
How people develop Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s Disease is when antibodies attack the structure of the thyroid. In other words, your body has made antibodies against your thyroid and is now attacking itself.
Three things have to occur for you to develop Hashimoto’s Disease:
- Genetic predisposition (it tends to run in families)
- Exposure to a toxin that accumulates in your thyroid (including things like Gluten, heavy metals like Mercury in fish, and Fluoride in water)
- Trigger that activates the immune function to start attacking the thyroid (including bacteria, virus, fungal infections, menopause, andropause, and even pregnancy, which is the most common trigger and why we see this more in women than men)
The link to hypothyroidism
While there are a lot of unknowns about Hashimoto’s, especially how to treat it, one thing is certain: Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). The most common hypothyroidism complaints and symptoms I hear in our office include:
- Weight gain
- Low energy or fatigue
- Dry skin, hair, and nails
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Muscle pain
- Cold intolerance
Each person is unique, so don’t expect to have all of these symptoms. You may have some consistently, others come and go, and some that won’t manifest at all.
Why Hashimoto’s Disease is often not diagnosed
While the above symptoms are the most common complaints patients with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s have, they are often dismissed by primary care physicians and nurse practitioners.
This is common because the current medical culture relies more heavily on what labs say versus listening to the patient. So if a patient’s labs come back in the “normal” range, many primary care physicians dismiss hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. It isn’t until the patient sees a hormone specialist that they receive the proper diagnosis.
Why we care about Hashimoto’s
Hashimoto’s is a serious disease, and if left untreated can put you at a higher risk of thyroid cancer, as well as developing additional autoimmune diseases like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac Disease, Scleroderma, and Sjogren’s Disease to name a few.
Unfortunately, many providers don’t properly diagnosis or treat thyroid disorders. Even if they are properly diagnosed, many other providers just put you on synthetic thyroid replacement and leave it at that.
But that isn’t how we treat our patients at Your Wellness Center. We listen to you! How?
- We use labs to determine where you currently stand
- Listen to how you currently feel
- Use combination hormone replacement (with both T3 and T4) to treat your thyroid
Do you have a thyroid disorder?
If you experience some of the symptoms listed above, you may have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. Please fill out our online consultation form to get started. This gives us a brief look at your health history so we know which labs need to be taken. If you have any questions, please call us at 513-791-9474.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I will discuss what we can do to help decrease the autoimmune influence in your body and the current treatments known to potentially help.