Question: I am on thyroid hormones for hypothyroidism. Why do I still have hypothyroid symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, depression, and constipation?
Answer: For 90 percent of Americans hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s. Although thyroid hormone medications may be necessary, they don’t address the autoimmune disease causing your immune system to attack and destroy the thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism is a disorder of low thyroid function that affects millions of Americans. Symptoms include unexplainable weight gain, inability to lose weight despite diet and exercise, fatigue, depression, hair loss, constipation, cold hands and feet, and many more. Sometimes symptoms also include anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitations.
Autoimmune disease causes most cases of hypothyroidism
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland over your throat that regulates your metabolism. Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, causing a decline in thyroid hormone production and hypothyroid symptoms.
Hashimoto’s is one of the most common autoimmune diseases today. Autoimmune disease rates have skyrocketed in recent years, dwarfing cancer and heart disease combined. Of the estimated 50 million Americans affected with autoimmune disease, 75 percent are women.
Ninety percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States are due to Hashimoto’s. Although thyroid medications may be necessary to maintain thyroid function, they do not address the immune system’s relentless attack destroying the thyroid gland.
Not only does this autoimmune attack continue to produce thyroid symptoms despite taking thyroid medication, it also increases your risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. These can include pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, Type I diabetes, or multiple sclerosis. Many patients with Hashimoto’s have more than one autoimmune disease.
Target the immune system with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
For most people with hypothyroidism, balancing the immune system and taming the autoimmune attacks are vital to thyroid health.
Managing Hashimoto’s requires changes to your diet and lifestyle to bring the immune system more into balance. The first place we start is with diet. Many people unknowingly react to foods they eat regularly, thus causing inflammation and exacerbating their Hashimoto’s condition.
For instance, the food most commonly linked in studies with Hashimoto’s is gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, and other wheat-like grains.
Numerous studies from several different countries show a strong link between Hashimoto’s and gluten. Studies also show those with a gluten intolerance are genetically more prone to Hashimoto’s disease. Gluten also promotes inflammation and gut damage in many people, which studies show exacerbates autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.
Other factors that can influence Hashimoto’s and thyroid function include blood sugar that is too low or high, gut health, inflammation, and hormone imbalances. For the most effective and lasting symptom relief from thyroid symptoms, you need to address the underlying causes of your condition, which can be different for each person.
For more information on how to manage your thyroid symptoms, contact my office.
Dr. David B. Tuchinsky, D.C., PLLC
St. Augustine Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker and Author
Direct any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org