What is Hashimoto’s disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck. Hashimoto’s disease causes the immune system to produce antibodies that destroy thyroid cells and alter thyroid hormone production. Longterm damage to the thyroid can cause hormone levels to drop, yielding hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease is the prominent cause of hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease
Goiters, or an enlarged thyroid, is a common sign of Hashimoto’s Disease. Other symptoms may be mild or nonexistent at first, but symptoms often increase as the disease progresses. Other symptoms include:
- Increase in weight
- Joint and muscle pain
- Thinning hair
- Irregular periods
- Depression and Anxiety
- Low heart rate
- Difficulty with getting pregnant
Who is at risk of Hashimoto’s disease?
Both men and women are at risk of Hashimoto’s disease, but women are 7 times more likely than men to get the disease. Hashimoto’s commonly occurs in middle-aged women, but can also affect those as early as those in their teens. Those with family member who have suffered Hashimoto’s Disease or another autoimmune disease are at greater risk of getting the disease. People who have one of the following diseases are likely to get Hashimoto’s disease also:
Vitiligo, Rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, Graves’ disease, Pernicious anemia, or Lupus.
What are the possible causes Hashimoto’s disease?
- Excessive iodine
- Certain Medications
- Radiation exposure
How do I find out if I have Hashimoto’s disease?
Do determine if you have Hashimoto’s disease, you will need to have a series of tests, including:
- Thyroid function tests – A blood test is taken to test the amount of TSH and T4 and to determine if you have an under active thyroid. I suggest you view the panel of testing you will want to have done here
- Antibody test – When Hashimoto’s disease is present, certain antibodies are present in the blood that those with a normal thyroid don’t have.
Hashimoto’s disease can be hard to identify when a woman is pregnant since Hashimoto’s has similar symptoms as a normal pregnancy, including fatigue and weight gain. It’s vital to determine is Hashimoto’s disease is present, because it can affect the baby’s growth and brain development. Let your doctor know if you have experience the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease.
How is Hashimoto’s disease treated?
Unfortunately, conventional medicine only focuses on a very outdated approach that includes thyroid replacement only. As a result many woman continue to suffer with thyroid symptoms despite taking thyroid medications.
Hashimoto’s disease treatment should focus on the immune system. Hashimoto’s is not a Thyroid problem but an autoimmune diseasea. Synthroid, Levothyroxine, Armour, Cytomel, Natural or synthetic medications are only designed to make up for the loss of thyroid hormones. They do not stop the Immune system from attacking and destroying the Thyroid gland. The most effective strategy at preserving your Thyroid and your future health, would be a strategy that focuses on identifying the Autoimmune Triggers.
What would happen if Hashimoto’s disease is not treated?
If left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease can cause:
- Birth defects in newborns
- Elevated cholesterol
- Heart failure
FAQs About Hashimoto’s Disease
1. Why can’t I lose weight when I diet and exercise?
One of the most frustrating symptoms of Hashimotos is the inability to lose weight, even when calories are low and hours logged on the treadmill are high. Hashimotos slows the body’s metabolism and its ability to burn fat. It also prevents our cells from responding to lipase, an enzyme that metabolizes fat.
The inability to burn fat then contributes to fatigue and cravings for sweets and starchy foods—the very foods that make one fat. Also, since Hashimoto’s hinders human growth hormone, building muscle through exercise is difficult if not impossible when hypothyroid. You will learn more about this in upcoming emails.
2. Why am I exhausted all the time?
The thyroid gland secretes hormones that set the speed of your metabolism. If you’re cold, the thyroid gland speeds up your metabolism to warm you up. If you’re hot, it slows down your metabolism to cool you off.
With hypothyroidism the gland fails to secrete enough thyroid hormones and the body can’t adapt efficiently to these kinds of fluctuations, whether external (temperature) or internal (stress).
Every cell in the body and brain uses thyroid hormones, and when they don’t get enough they lose energy and function poorly. As a result energy production in the body and brain plummet, leaving you tired and mentally foggy.
3. My doctor says my lab results are normal and my medication is working, yet I still have thyroid symptoms. In fact they are getting worse. Why?
Although thyroid medications can boost how you feel and function, they do not address why your thyroid became under active in the first place. For 90 percent of Americans, autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease causes hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.While thyroid medications may make you feel better temporarily, they do nothing to halt this autoimmune attack. What’s necessary instead is to tame the autoimmune attack and restore balance to the immune system through diet and nutritional compounds.
4. What Are Some of the Other Causes behind my hypothyroidism and Hashimotos?
While Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, researchers have identified many other factors in both Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. These factors include chronic stress, pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), PCOS, the use of oral contraceptives or estrogen creams, a chronic virus or infection, leaky gut, poor digestive health as just a few examples.
Dr Hagmeyer use state-of-the-art, scientifically sound methods to determine the true cause of your Hashimoto’s and how to address it. This is the “BIG” picture
5. Are there any foods I should avoid If I Have Hashimotos?
Absolutely. If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s you should adopt a strict gluten-free diet. Numerous studies in several different countries have shown a link between gluten intolerance and Hashimoto’s disease.
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, spelt, kamut, oats, barley, and rye. Fortunately, a gluten-free diet is easier today than ever before.
6. Why am I developing other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type I diabetes, pernicious anemia, or autoimmune neurological problems?
It’s very common for people with Hashimoto’s to eventually develop other autoimmune diseases. This is because the underlying cause of their hypothyroidism, an imbalanced immune system, has not yet been addressed. Conventional medicine ignores the immune system and sits by and waits till the immune system targets another part of the body to destroy.
This is why it is so important to go beyond thyroid medications and manage the autoimmune disease. Otherwise you are at risk of developing an autoimmune disease against other organs or tissues.
7. Can I get off taking thyroid hormones if I address the underlying cause?
Some people are able to wean off their thyroid hormone medication once they address what is causing their hypothyroidism. For others, however, the thyroid gland is already too damaged and it’s important to stay on your thyroid medication, although you may need a lower dose. If you don’t need thyroid medication, taking it for an extended period of time can create a permanent dependency.
8. Why won’t my doctor run the tests to see if I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease?
Unfortunately, to the insurance company a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s does not change how hypothyroidism is treated in the standard health care model. Dr Hagmeyer believes that in order to truly understand and be effective in the management of Hashimoto’s that a comprehensive thyroid panel must be done.
9. I had my thyroid removed. Why do I still have Hashimoto’s symptoms?
Great question! Removing the thyroid gland is like removing a wad of sticky chewing gum from the bottom of your shoe—some will remain stuck to your shoe.
It’s the same with the thyroid gland, and these remnants of thyroid tissue continue to be the site of autoimmune attack, producing symptoms. Removing the thyroid does not remove the Autoimmune disease.
10. Why do I have Hashimoto’s symptoms sometimes and hyperthyroid symptoms other times?
When the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, this destroys the gland causing it to spill excess thyroid hormone into the bloodstream.
This excess thyroid hormone overstimulates metabolism, causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as anxiety, insomnia, a pounding heart, or nervousness.
Over time as the gland is continually destroyed, it loses its ability to secrete sufficient thyroid hormone, causing symptoms of hypothyroidism. Most cases of Hashimoto’s involve a slow but steady destruction of the gland with gradual worsening of hypothyroid symptoms.
11. Why did my Hashimoto’s thyroid problems start after my pregnancy?
A woman’s immune system shifts gears during pregnancy, and then again after birth. Although these shifts are normal, they can trigger a thyroid condition, particularly Hashimoto’s, in a woman who was already predisposed to the condition.
12. Why do I respond poorly to some Hashimoto’s thyroid medications and well to others?
People with Hashimoto’s typically have food sensitivities, such as to gluten or corn, and react to cornstarch fillers, artificial colors, lactose or other additives in some thyroid medications. Also some medications are T4 only while others are T4 and T3. If a person is in a Hashimoto’s flare up taking a Thyroid hormone like Armour or Cytomel can make them feel much worse. You can watch a video that explain this in much more detail.
13. What sort of tests do you run for a person with Autoimmune Hashimotos?
Each case is different. Before we run a bunch of tests, we will spend a considerable amount of time reviewing past testing, past treatments. Its important to look at what has been done, but also what has not been done and consider various aspects of your lifestyle. Typically, we look at Blood, Stool, Saliva and Urine. The key thing to remember is that the follow-up tests are critical to tracking your progress.