Thyroid Autoimmunity

Some of the most frustrating symptoms you may have are weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, headaches, constipation, and emotional changes.  You went to your doctor and were told your thyroid is normal or you need medications.  You start taking your medications and you go back for a check-up and your TSH values are normal, but the problem is that your symptoms are not changing.

Why Are You Not Improving?

Traditionally when evaluating function only two values are obtained: TSH (tells thyroid to make hormone) and T4 (main hormone produced by thyroid).  Let’s describe this as a production line trying to make a certain amount of product.  The manager (TSH) is telling the employees (thyroid) how much product (T4) to make.  If too much product (T4) is made the manager (TSH) tells the employees (thyroid) to stop working as hard.  If too little is made the opposite occurs.  The only problem is that T4 is not the active hormone, but it is free T3.  

There are many values that can be ran to fully evaluate the thyroid: TSH, T4, T4 free, T3, T3 free, T3 uptake, reverse T3, TPO, TgAb, and thyroglobulin.  I am not going to review all of these, but I am going to focus on the 2 tests that most likely to be abnormal based off your symptoms.  The tests are TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and TgAB (thyroglobulin antibodies).  Each of these are a measure of autoimmunity.

When these values are out of range it is a sign of your body attacking the thyroid.  The problem is that these values are not traditionally obtained as they do not change a traditional treatment plan.  If TPO or TgAB are positive with normal thyroid values it is called euthyroid Hashimoto’s, euthyroid describes normal function where Hashimoto’s is a term for autoimmunity.  
It is important to note that euthyroid does not mean the thyroid has not been damaged; it just means there is not enough damage to impact your thyroid levels.  If you have TPO or TgAB with abnormal thyroid values it is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  For the rest of this article we are going to consider positive TPO or TgAB as Hashimoto’s with or without abnormal thyroid levels.    
Women are about 8 times more likely to have thyroid autoimmunity compared to males.  If your mom or sister has thyroid issues there is a good chance you may develop it as well.  Even if you are currently on medications and have seen improvements, it is still beneficial to have antibody testing performed as positive results may be preventing you from receiving the best benefits from your medications.  

Comprehensive Approach to Hashimoto’s

We approach Hashimoto’s the same way we approach other autoimmune disorders by understanding factors that influence the immune system.  Remember the body is connected and decreased function in one area can impact another.  

Common Factors that Will Alter Immune Function

  • Stress
  • Poor Sleep
  • Diet (especially processed and refined foods)
  • Head Injuries
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Antibiotics, NSAIDS, Corticosteroids, and other medications
  • Gluten
  • Poor Gut Health or Leaky Gut
  • Decreased Vitamin D

There are many more things that can impact the immune system, but you may have more than one of the factors.  This means simply achieving a normal TSH does not begin to address why your symptoms are present.

How Revive Can Help

Treatment is primarily based around​​

  • Diet: removal of inflammatory foods and focus on foods that support a healthy immune system
  • Labs: allow us to evaluate organ systems, inflammation, usage of essential nutrients, and food sensitivities to create specific diet and supplement recommendations
  • Gut health: bad gut = bad immune system
  • Stress: negatively impacts immune system
  • Supplements: support thyroid function, anti-oxidant support to reduce inflammation and promote a regulated immune response
  • Medication: if needed medication can be prescribed or changed to a brand that does not create added inflammation

It is essential to note that once you have autoimmunity it is always present.  Appropriate treatment can lower your TPO and TgAB levels tremendously, even return them to normal levels.  This does not mean your autoimmunity is gone, but it means your immune system is now functioning better and is no longer attacking the thyroid as much.  Treatment for thyroid health is long term, but you are able to do the majority of it on your own through diet and lifestyle interventions.

Our Unique Process for Your Unique Situation

We have created a unique process that is built to maximize time and results.  To reach your personal healthcare goals, it is imperative that your physicians and care providers precisely know your individual story and needs.  Your individual goals are the focal point of the comprehensive treatment plan which is based off your exam, diagnostics, and lab results.  Your treatment plan is designed specifically for you and is not a protocol.

This plan is executed over 10 days.  Many patients see measurable improvement over the time in our office.  When you leave, we create a plan to help you continue on your journey.  Our goal is to see each patient continue to build upon the initial results they achieved in office.  

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