Don’t Let Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Zap Your Energy

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A diagnosis of Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, means that your thyroid gland is not producing high enough hormone levels to activate all your cells to produce the energy they need to maximize their functioning.

When thyroid hormone levels get out of whack, the entire body can be affected. There can be a number of reasons this happens, ranging from nutritional deficiencies to radiation, with one of the more common reasons being an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Is More Common Than You May Think

Affecting approximately 10% of women over the age of 30, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Some studies put the incidence of Hashimoto’s as high as five percent of the overall population.

What is Hashimoto’s?

The condition gets its name from the Japanese physician who first identified it in 1912.  It’s important to understand that Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder.  In other words, with Hashimoto’s, your immune system somehow perceives that your healthy thyroid is a threat to your wellbeing, and attacks it in response. That usually damages it enough to prevent efficient hormone production.

Autoimmune disorders like this can be frustrating since they often don’t have a direct, easily identified cause.  Although relatively easy to diagnose, many physicians do not do the necessary labs to uncover it.

Who Is At Risk Of Hashimoto’s?

Women

Certain conditions can make it more likely that you will develop Hashimoto’s. For example, women are from five to eight times more likely to develop the disease.

Previous Autoimmune Disease

Your risk is also highest at middle age. Having other autoimmune disorders (such as lupus, celiac disease, or rheumatoid arthritis) can also make you more vulnerable.

Gluten Intolerance

Some research has linked Hashimoto’s to diets high in gluten.  Although gluten doesn’t directly cause Hashimoto’s, gluten consumption does seem to increase the risk for autoimmune disorders in general. And interestingly, people with celiac disease are three times more likely to have a thyroid problem.

Stress

Other research suggests a link between chronic stress and Hashimoto’s. This connection could be due to the interaction between stress and our immune systems.

Intestinal Imbalances

Imbalances in the healthy vs. unhealthy microorganisms in the intestinal tract have been shown to lead to systemic auto-immunity.  A history of taking antibiotics or getting food poisoning, eating poorly, on medications that affect the gut, these are the sorts of influences that can lead to gut imbalances.

Environmental toxicities

A body that has built up and has problems detoxifying certain toxins is at higher risk for development of auto-immune conditions. .  Heavy metals such as mercury or lead,  persistent organic pollutant chemicals—commonly seen in pesticides and herbicides—and mold exposure are common toxins.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hashimoto’s?

The symptoms of Hashimoto’s often build slowly, which is why they often go unnoticed. As the thyroid experiences more damage, many people find they become increasingly tired. In fact, overwhelming fatigue is one of the most common complaints with this disease.

You may also experience a long list of frustrating symptoms, including:

●       Weight gain

●       Water retention/edema of the legs

●       Muscle aches

●       Thinning hair/noticeable hair loss

●       Dry skin

●       Constipation

●       Menstrual problems—heavier, more frequent periods

●       Poor cold tolerance

●       Depression

●       Memory issues

●       Hoarseness

●       Low libido

●       Slow heart rate

●       A lump at the base of the throat, due to an enlarged thyroid

Many of the symptoms listed above are easy to blame on other health issues – even simply growing older. However, the long term-effects of Hashimoto’s can greatly affect your quality of life. That’s why it’s important to seek help if you suspect Hashimoto’s.

How Is Hashimoto’s Diagnosed?

Many conventional medical doctors run just one test for thyroid problems – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). However, because thyroid problems can be complex, the result doesn’t always provide an accurate diagnosis. An elevated TSH may well indicate that the body is trying very hard to stimulate an under-responsive thyroid gland, however it doesn’t tell us why. And a normal TSH result does not rule out more complex issues.

TSH should be taken with Free T4, Free T3, anti-thyroglobulin and TPO antibodies, and Reverse T3 for a full thyroid panel that can diagnose Hashimoto’s or other hypothyroidism more quickly.

Help! I am Having Trouble Managing Hashimoto’s. What Can I Do?

Hashimoto’s is typically treated with a thyroid hormone supplement to restore the body’s levels. There are different types of thyroid medicine and you may not react well to all of them.  Also, the dosing has to be figured out that is specific to your body needs.

A naturopathic approach also aims to address the root cause of the autoimmune condition, in addition to supporting the thyroid and using thyroid hormone supplements as needed. This usually means making improvements to your overall health and balancing other hormone levels to support the whole system.

Supplements For Hashimotos’s May Include:

●      Selenium

●      Tyrosine

●      Zinc

●      Ashwagandha

●      Seaweeds from the Kelp family like Bladderwrack

 

Lifestyle changes To Support Thyroid Health

Good habits can have a positive effect on Hashimoto’s, including:

●      Diet Diary

Any “itis” in medicine, such as thyroiditis, means there is inflammation involved in the condition.  Foods can be pro or anti-inflammatory.  A diet diary will allow your physician to analyze a typical week intake to discern do you eat more or less inflammatory foods, as well as uncover your basic nutrition.  Starting with enhancing your diet to be healthier is the best way to start treating all conditions, including Hashimotos.

●      Get Speciality Testing

Your physician can guide you through doing a food sensitivity test, to find the good that may be over-stimulating your immune system to attack the thyroid; or environmental testing for heavy metals, chemicals, and/or mold; or checking your intestinal microbiome to see if it is imbalanced in any way.

●      Focus on natural, high-fibre foods

Because of the important link between gut health and immunity, keep your gut in top shape by consuming enough fibre to keep things moving.

●      Reduce stress

Yes, that’s easier said than done in today’s busy world! However, it’s also important to remember that looking after your own health (even if that means cutting back on your responsibilities) will ultimately make you better able to look after your loved ones and your other responsibilities. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so taking care of yourself is step one in taking care of others.

If you recognize the symptoms of Hashimoto’s described above, or if you’ve been given a diagnosis but are having trouble managing your symptoms, let’s talk. Together we can get a handle on your energy levels so that you can start feeling like yourself again.

 

Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221534/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28829155

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6688766/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650357

https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(15)00767-2/fulltext?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov%2F

 

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