If you are like the countless Americans that suffer from symptoms of low thyroid, the true cause of your thyroid problem might have gone undiagnosed. Most people who struggle with low thyroid are simply given a thyroid replacement hormone, but for many people, this does little to resolve their symptoms long-term.
This is because the leading cause of low thyroid function is not a thyroid problem, it is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
What Is Hashimoto’s?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid tissues. In this situation, the immune system mistakes thyroid cells for unfamiliar invaders and inflicts damage that renders the thyroid less capable of producing thyroid hormones.
Over time, this destruction results in progressive hypothyroidism or low thyroid activity. Even though this condition is the most common cause of low thyroid, thyroid antibodies are often untested. Researchers suspect that approximately 90% of low thyroid function sufferers have autoimmune thyroiditis.
This is a staggering fact when considering that treatment protocol for autoimmunity is vastly different from the standard protocol for underactive thyroid treatment! Millions of people suffering from low thyroid function are being treated with thyroid replacement therapy alone, while a disease is manifesting underneath the surface that will eventually cause debilitating and far-reaching symptoms.
Why Is Hashimoto’s So Underdiagnosed?
Although conventional and functional medical communities both agree that HT is the number one cause of low thyroid function, most patients are not thoroughly tested for this condition.
Individuals often exhibit muted symptoms for years or decades as the disease slowly progresses. Because underactive thyroid symptoms are easily mistaken for other conditions, this disease is often overlooked as the source of fatigue, weight gain, inflammation, and more.
This issue is all too familiar for new mothers who have a higher risk of developing overt HT symptoms. Patients are too frequently dismissed as exhausted parents or are treated for postpartum depression. Likewise, women moving into perimenopause are given lackluster explanations that suggest their symptoms are common byproducts of hormonal changes and aging. These excuses are inadequate at best; women who face this problem may find their bodies in an active state of thyroid destruction.
How Do I Know If I Have Hashimoto’s
If you have HT, you would most likely have TSH and T4 levels out of optimal range; however, a better way to test for thyroid autoimmunity is by looking at antibodies. Due to the nature of autoimmunity, which can progress slowly over time and swing between silent and active stages, the indication of antibodies tells us that the system has “tagged” thyroid cells as dangerous and has targeted them for destruction.
Indications for autoimmune thyroiditis include thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb). The most commonly elevated antibodies are TPO, and while TgAb is less common, it should always be checked. A positive test indicates autoimmunity.
Find the Right Doctor
Thyroid hormone is so important to the proper functioning of metabolic processes, affecting everything including
- Bowel movements
- Nail growth
If you are suffering from symptoms of low thyroid, whether you have been diagnosed or not, it is vital to be tested for HT. Find a functional medicine practitioner that understand accurate testing, proper diagnosis, and effective treatment for your unique body.