Why is my energy like a rollercoaster?
Do you feel like your life is a rollercoaster, with periods of high energy followed by times of extreme fatigue? Are you feeling increasingly tired or sluggish? Do you have episodes of anxiety? Do you feel like you have a lump in your throat that you can’t swallow, making your voice hoarse, causing problems swallowing, or causing a tight feeling in your throat?
You may have Hashimoto’s disease, a common cause of hypothyroidism.
We can help!
Doctors at Holtorf Medical Group are specially trained to recognize and treat even the most complex thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. We can help you deal with the symptoms of Hashimoto’s -, and can even help you slow the disease or halt it in its tracks. Our innovative treatment options can help you get off the energy rollercoaster and get your life back on track.
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease, also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroiditis, or simply “Hashimoto’s,” is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid is attacked by the body’s immune system.
Our immune system is usually very good at keeping us healthy. When it recognizes foreign objects, such as bacteria or viruses, it sends an army of antibodies to attack those foreign objects and keep us healthy. But sometimes the immune system goes into attack against something that is not a foreign object, like the thyroid gland.
In patients who are suffering from Hashimoto’s disease, antibodies react against proteins in the thyroid gland and go into attack, gradually killing thyroid cells. In the early stages of Hashimoto’s disease, patients may experience few to no symptoms. But as thyroid cells are damaged during each autoimmune attack, those cells release their stored thyroid hormones. This causes the patient’s thyroid hormone levels to be temporarily high, resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as panic attacks, anxiety, a fast heartbeat, sweating, shaking hands, diarrhea, and quick weight loss. This is also known as Hashitoxicosis.
With each attack, more and more thyroid cells are killed, until the thyroid becomes unable to produce enough thyroid hormones, and the patient begins to experience symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, constipation, brain fog, memory loss, and more. Once a significant number of thyroid cells are destroyed, the patient becomes hypothyroid, and will need to be on lifelong medication.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is often silent in the early stages, with no symptoms. But as the disease progresses, patients may experience a cycling back and forth between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism symptoms.
Some patients may also develop a goiter, which is a swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland. The neck or throat area may feel sore or tender, and wearing scarves or neckties may be uncomfortable.
Because of its fairly non-specific symptoms, Hashimoto’s disease is often misdiagnosed as depression, bipolar disorder, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or an anxiety disorder. It is important to get the right tests and the right diagnosis so that you can start treatment and regain your health.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?
- Panic attacks
- Anxiety or depression
- Unexplained weight changes
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Inability to tolerate heat or cold
- Muscle/joint aches and pains
- Unusual weakness and fatigue
- Hair loss
- Swelling of the feet, hands and face
- A hoarse voice, problems swallowing, or a tight feeling in the throat
- Irregular periods
- And more
What tests do I need?
Most doctors use the TSH (or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test to screen for thyroid disorders. This test, however, only tells how well the pituitary is “talking” to the thyroid, rather than measuring thyroid hormone activity in the body. For Hashimoto’s patients in particular, the TSH is a poor indicator of thyroid health because TSH levels can be normal when the thyroid is under attack by antibodies due to the release of stored thyroid hormone by the damaged and dying cells. This can be very frustrating for patients because the lab results are not an accurate indicator of the patient’s thyroid health.
Because Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, there may, but not always, be increased levels of specific antibodies to thyroid proteins. Thus, your doctor should check thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibody and antithyroglobulin antibody. If these are elevated, the diagnosis is made. If they are normal, however, it does not mean that you do not have Hashimoto’s or inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis) causing your symptoms because there can be a number of other causes of inflammation that does not involve the TPO or antithyroglobulin antibodies. Most Endocrinologists and doctors are unaware that there can be inflammation of the thyroid even if the TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies are negative and all the standard blood tests look normal. Undiagnosed Hashimoto’s is particularly common in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. For instance, a study published in The Lancet performed thyroid biopsies in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and found that 40% had inflamed thyroids. However, less than half of those with biopsy proven thyroiditis were positive for TPO or antithyroglobulin antibodies. When the patients were treated with thyroid, their symptoms improved even if they had a normal TSH and the antibodies were negative.
At Holtorf Medical Group, we specialize in comprehensive testing and evaluation, including specialized testing of antibodies, as well as Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, sex hormone binding globulin (SHGB), computerized measurement of thyroid tissue levels and checking the basal metabolic rate (metabolism), as thyroid is a major determinant of the body’s metabolism. These tests can help us determine if you are suffering from Hashimoto’s disease, and can help us get you off the thyroid rollercoaster and back on the road to good health.
The right tests can also help us take measures to stop the progression of Hashimoto’s disease and save as much thyroid hormone function as possible.
What causes Hashimoto’s Disease?
It is not known specifically what causes Hashimoto’s disease and what causes the body’s immune system to suddenly see the thyroid as a foreign object and begin an attack. One theory is that low iodine (as well as certain minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iron) can lead to inflammation of the thyroid.
It is known that Hashimoto’s disease can be genetic. If your mother, grandmother, or aunt has Hashimoto’s disease, you are more likely to develop the disease.
Pregnancy can also be a strong precursor to developing Hashimoto’s disease due to the increased activity of the immune system.
A wide range of chronic infections, including Epstein Barr virus, HHV6, Lyme disease and mycoplasma to name a few, can cause Hashimoto’s. The chronic infections cause an imbalance in the immune system called a TH1 to TH2 shift. This results in dysfunctional immune system that is less able to fight invading organisms but is more likely to attack the body, causing a number of autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s. Such an immune shift is a hallmark of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and explains the high incidence of autoimmune disease in this population.
Am I at risk?
Nearly one person out of every thousand will have Hashimoto’s disease and many more will have inflammation of the thyroid without the presence of antibodies. It occurs far more often in women than in men, and is most prevalent between the ages of 45 and 65.
Children can also have Hashimoto’s disease, especially in populations where dietary iodine is scarce. Hashimoto’s disease can disrupt growth in children and teens, so it should be closely monitored.
Pregnant women are also at increased risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease due to the increased immune response during pregnancy.
Patients who have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder are also at greater risk to have others, including Hashimoto’s disease.
Research also shows a possible connection between Hashimoto’s disease and Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that results in an overreaction to goods that contain gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats. Gluten can also trigger the autoimmune reaction that causes Hashimoto’s disease.
What are my treatment options?
Many doctors will take a “wait and see” approach to treating Hashimoto’s disease, especially if a patient’s lab results show a low level of antibodies. But once a patient shows specific anti-thyroid antibodies in lab tests, it is important to begin treatment to prevent further damage to the thyroid.
Scientific studies have shown that treatment for Hashimoto’s disease can relieve symptoms and reduce the progression of the disease, even in patients who do not have an elevated TSH. By proactively treating Hashimoto’s disease early in patients who show any level of antibodies, it may be possible to stop the progression of the disease, save the thyroid from further damage, and save the patient from development of hypothyroidism.
At Holtorf Medical Group, we use the latest in integrative and prescription therapies to reverse the underlying immune dysfunction that can cause conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease.
Not so common treatments
In addition to treating Hashimoto’s disease patients with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, there are other medical and nutritional additions that can have a positive impact on the disease.
Individuals with Hashimoto’s disease often have low levels of DHEA and testosterone. When these are supplemented, it can decrease levels of antibodies and decrease the ongoing destruction of the thyroid gland.
Scientific studies have also shown that selenium deficiency can play a role in Hashimoto’s disease. Taking Selenium supplements can often reduce antibody levels, though selenium should not be use as a replacement for thyroid medication.
Low Dose Naltrexone has also shown to be very effective for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease. There are many patients on Low Dose Naltrexone who report a significant lowering of their anti-thyroid antibodies.
The immune-modulatory properties of gamma globulin, either given intramuscularly or intravenously, can be very beneficial.
Treating intestinal inflammation “leaky gut” can also be beneficial.
Identifying and treating any chronic viral or bacterial infection that may be the underlying cause of the immune dysfunction can reverse the disease.
It might seem strange but immune boosters can help the disease. But they must boost the TH1 portion of the immune system and not the TH2 immunity. Treating with TH1 immune boosters can cause a reduction of the hyperactive TH2 immune response that is present in the disease and help reverse the underlying cause. This may be especially helpful when a chronic infection is present, which is often the case (especially in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia).
Proper treatment of Hashimoto’s disease is critical. If left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease can lead to a number of health problems, including goiter, heart disease, depression that does not respond well to antidepressants, high cholesterol and mental health issues, birth defects, and myxedema coma, a rare life-threatening condition that causes a loss of consciousness caused by profoundly low thyroid hormone levels.
Ready to get started?
Beginning proper treatment for Hashimoto’s disease, even in its earliest stages, can prevent further damage to the thyroid gland and possibly prevent full-blown hypothyroidism. Left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease can cause all sorts of problems, including adrenal fatigue, heart disease, mental disorders, and finally full destruction of the thyroid gland.
Are you ready to get off the rollercoaster and reclaim your health? Holtorf Medical Group can get you on the right track. Call us today at 877-508-1177 and schedule an appointment with one of our specially trained physicians.