Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.

Inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It is often undiagnosed and under treated allowing the person to suffer longer than necessary.

Hashimoto’s primarily affects middle-aged women but also can occur in men and women of any age and in children.

Doctors test your thyroid function with TSH level to help detect Hashimoto’s disease. This marker can frequently miss the disease as TSH is often normal in people with Hashimoto’s. It is important to run antibody markers (such as anti-TPO) as well as full thyroid panel and reverse T3 to detect and correct the problem.

Treatment of Hashimoto’s disease is where Functional Medicine differs from conventional care. Hashimoto’s is an interaction of genes, gut and immune systems. The art of the medicine is to identify which systems are malfunctioning in each individual and seek to repair and restore function so that the person can regain vibrant health.

Symptoms

You might not notice signs or symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease at first, or you may notice a swelling at the front of your throat (goiter). Hashimoto’s disease typically progresses slowly over years and causes chronic thyroid damage, leading to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in your blood. The signs and symptoms are mainly those of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness/Brain Fog
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
  • Depression/Anxiety/Palpitations

Functional Medicine Approach to Treatment

Functional and Naturopathic Treatment for Hashimoto’s will always be individualized to each person. Foundational health including nutrition, sleep and stress management are important. Specific attention to the gastrointestinal barrier, microbiome, digestive capacity and immune activation to foods will be a priority. Immune system activation can be from multiple causes and will be evaluated to calm the overactive immune response on the thyroid gland. Sex hormones and adrenal function may be important to address.

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