Is your Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease?
I've worked with women with thyroid issues for nearly eight years, and when they come into care, they all make similar statements:
“I have been told my lab tests are normal, but I do not feel like myself.
”Every woman in my family has thyroid disease.”
“I have hypothyroidism and take medication, but I do not feel any different.”
“I know something is wrong with me, but my doctor told me it is all in my head!”
“After all my labs came back normal, I was put on antidepressants and left hopeless.”
“I look normal outside, so nobody believes I am sick.”
I hope these comments are not familiar to you, but if you are a woman with thyroid issues, I am sure you can relate. Unfortunately, thyroid-related diseases are widely prevalent and vastly underdiagnosed and misunderstood.
The first factor we need to unpack is that Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that impacts the health of the thyroid, but it is not a thyroid disease in the classical sense. With any autoimmune disease, the immune system loses its ability to identify friend from foe and attacks tissues and organs in the body. In the case of Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland resulting in low thyroid function hypothyroidism).
The TSH Marker
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 90% of women with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s, and it takes 4.6 years and 4-5 doctors for a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. Unfortunately, when women go to the doctor complaining of thyroid-related symptoms, the doctor may only run a couple of the thyroid markers, which means we are not getting the complete picture.
Often, women only get a marker for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If that marker is high, it is suggested that hypothyroidism is the sole problem, synthetic T4 is prescribed, and all is well again, right?! Unfortunately, it is not that easy!
The problem here is that nobody is considering why there is a state of hypothyroidism, so women take the medication thinking they will feel better, and they don’t because the issue is the immune system and not the thyroid.
Honestly, giving synthetic T4 to someone with Hashimoto’s is like putting a Band-Aid on a volcano about to erupt! It is not addressing the root cause! I am not saying that medications are not needed for some women with Hashimoto’s. Still, I am saying that the management of Hashimoto’s is much more complex, and managing it with medication only addresses about 1% of the issue!
There is help
Your first goal for women with thyroid issues is to complete a full thyroid panel. To the women on thyroid medication who still does not feel well, you need to take a deeper look into this. And, to the women with a deep genetic history of thyroid disease and/or autoimmune, you should also have full labs completed to ensure you are on the right path.
At Vital Source Nutrition, we run full thyroid panels and help you understand the whole picture and address the root cause of your symptoms.
If you are ready to get your answers, we can help!