What is Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism anyway?

Hashimoto’s autoimmune Thyroiditis – such a long name for such a little part of your body controlling so much!

According to Dr. Aukerman, Hashimoto’s disease is a chronic thyroiditis that causes more than 80% of all hypothyroidism in the United States. It results when the thyroid gland has lower or slower functioning than normal throwing your entire body off balance.

One of the ways you can get Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is from the autoimmune response due to gluten in your small intestines. The onset of the disease is very low and more frequent in middle age women and families with a history of thyroid disease.

Summer 2011, I could tell something was wrong with my body. I felt exhausted, irritable, was gaining weight, extremely dry skin, hair and nails and the amazing thing was how much hair I was losing. Even my husband noticed how much was in the drain after I took a shower and my hair stylist would ask if I was under a lot of stress showing me the aftermath of a hair coloring.

January 2012 was my first appointment with Dr. Aukerman. You will hear me talk about him frequently because he impacted my life so much and finally gave me some hope with why my body was failing me at only 30 years old. When he walked in the door, he did an initial once over and said you have a latex allergy, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and most likely Celiac disease.

He observed that my thyroid was swollen in my neck and tender to the touch. I just always thought that’s how it was supposed to look and feel.

Your thyroid is the pink part!

Frequent signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism: Intolerance to cold, difficulty concentrating or thinking, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, joint stiffness, dry skin, hair loss, heavy or irregular menses, facial swelling, enlarged neck and/or presence of a goiter.

According to MedicineNet.com,  there are more serious consequences to having untreated hypothyroidism-

“As hypothyroidism becomes more severe, there may be puffiness around the eyes, a slowing of the heart rate, a drop in body temperature, and heart failure. In its most profound form, severe hypothyroidism may lead to a life-threatening coma (myxedema coma). In a severely hypothyroid individual, a myxedema coma tends to be triggered by severe illness, surgery, stress, or traumatic injury. This condition requires hospitalization and immediate treatment with thyroid hormones given by injection.

Properly diagnosed, hypothyroidism can be easily and completely treated with thyroid hormone replacement. On the other hand, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy), worsening heart failure, and an accumulation of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion).”

So, now that we know what this autoimmune disease is – how do you diagnose it? I did a little bit of research online and found labtestsonline to be the best source and easiest information on testing for Hashimoto’s.

Tests

The goals of testing include detecting thyroid dysfunction, diagnosing Hashimoto thyroiditis, and monitoring Treatment.

For monitoring thyroid function and hormone production:

To help diagnose Hashimoto thyroiditis:

  • Anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody (anti-TPO, see Thyroid Antibodies). This test detects the presence of autoantibodies against a protein found in thyroid cells. A high value usually indicates autoimmune damage to the thyroid due to disorders such as Hashimoto thyroiditis and Graves disease.
  • Antithyroglobulin antibody (TgAb) — if positive, may indicate Hashimoto thyroiditis; while thyroglobulin antibodies are often positive, they are not as sensitive or specific as anti-TPO so they are not routinely ordered.

My TSH levels came back high on my first test around 4.976. To put that in reference, it should be between .5 and 3. My PTH Intact also came back high at 37.5. This level should be around 14 or less.

Treatment:

The doctor has not put me on thyroid medicine yet because my blood levels dropped after my second testing in July 2012. They are still a little elevated, but they are going down at a great pace without taking any kind of medicine. This is because I’ve tried to control my gluten intake as much as possible. By stopping the autoimmune response of gluten, my thyroid doesn’t have to work as hard and the levels are going down.

Synthetic hormones:
This usually involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid). Synthetic levothyroxine is identical to thyroxine, the natural version of this hormone made by your thyroid gland. The oral medication restores adequate hormone levels and reverses all the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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