How do you know if you have Hashimoto’s?
Low functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) is common, affecting about 1 in 8 women in the U.S and is 5-8 times more common in women than men.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an Autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s causing about 80% of hypothyroidism. In Hashimoto’s, the immune system causes damage to the thyroid and produces antibodies in response. Over time, as the inflammation increases and the damage worsens the antibodies increase. The only way to know if you have Hashimoto’s is to test for thyroid antibodies, which is not common practice conventionally. BUT, there are some problems with not testing thyroid antibodies:
- You can have low thyroid symptoms if your antibodies are high, even if the rest of your thyroid panel looks fine.
- 10% of individuals with Hashimotos will have “subclinical hypothyroidism” meaning that their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is high but their T4 and T3 are normal. 1
- Even if treated with thyroid medication, your symptoms may persist if you have thyroid antibodies. Even if your thyroid labs have returned to normal.
- Thyroid antibodies can be high for 10 years before TSH, T3 or T4 levels change.
So, what are some signs that you may have Hashimoto’s?
You have been put on thyroid medication but you still don’t feel well.
- When it comes to Hashimoto’s the thyroid disfunction is the result of the problem, it is not the problem itself. For some people, replacing thyroid hormone alone may be enough but for many, addressing the inflammation and immune system is key to symptom relief.
You have been struggling with unexplained infertility or frequent miscarriage.
- A 2014 studies stated that 47% of women with Hashimoto’s have fertility challenges. These fertility challenges include women who have high antibodies but “normal” thyroid levels. For women with Hashimoto’s the optimal TSH levels for achieving and maintaining pregnancy is lower than the average woman. 2
You have been experiencing chronic hives or skin rashes.
- 25-30% of patients with chronic hives have elevated thyroid antibodies. In these patients treatment with thyroid medication actually helped to resolve their skin reactions! 3
You have non-specific pain.
- Autoimmune conditions (including Hashimoto’s) often affect the muscles and joints leading to aches and pains. For some people the pain and swelling can be worse than others. If you have had every test to identify the cause of your pain and they are all normal you should have your thyroid antibodies tested.
You have fatigue and no amount of sleep helps.
- Fatigue is one of the most common complaints in hypothyroidism, especially Hashimoto’s.
You have another autoimmune condition
- Having one autoimmune condition will increase your risk of having another. There are a variety of autoimmune conditions associated with Hashimotos including Celiac disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Addison’s Disease, Multiple sclerosis, ect. 4
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or if you have thyroid symptoms but “all of your lab work is normal,” then I encourage you to have your thyroid antibodies tested. The most common thyroid antibodies are Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (Anti-TPO) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).
Patients with elevated antibodies can benefit from a complete health plan that addresses their thyroid as well as their inflammation and their immune system. This includes dietary recommendations and supplements as well as support. It may include a thyroid hormone prescription or a change in your current prescription (but this isn’t always the case).
If you are wondering if you have a thyroid condition, or you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, and are still feeling terrible book your alignment call today to find out how we can help you get control of your health.
- Biondi B, Cappola AR, Cooper DS. Subclinical Hypothyroidism: A Review. JAMA. 2019;322(2):153-160. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9052
- Quintino-Moro A, Zantut-Wittmann DE, Tambascia M, Machado H da C, Fernandes A. High Prevalence of Infertility among Women with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Int J Endocrinol. 2014;2014:982705. doi:10.1155/2014/982705
- Najafipour M, Zareizadeh M, Najafipour F. Relationship between Chronic urticaria and autoimmune thyroid disease. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2018;9(4):158-161. doi:10.4103/japtr.JAPTR_342_18
- Ruggeri RM, Trimarchi F, Giuffrida G, et al. Autoimmune comorbidities in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: different patterns of association in adulthood and childhood/adolescence. Eur J Endocrinol. 2017;176(2):133-141. doi:10.1530/EJE-16-0737