Thyroid Autoimmunity (or Autoimmune Thyroiditis) is when the patient’s immune system attacks and damages their thyroid. Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are forms of autoimmune thyroid disease. In these diseases, thyroid-reactive T cells are formed that infiltrate the thyroid gland. Both disorders are common with a prevalence of about 1% in the United States.
Signs and Symptoms
Lab values are often within a normal range, and symptoms are commonly associated with other disorders, making thyroid disease difficult to diagnose. Most common symptoms are weight gain, fatigue, hair loss or brittle hair, headaches, constipation, and emotional changes. These symptoms often appear gradually and increase in severity over time.
As the disease goes on, your thyroid may become enlarged, a condition called a goiter. The front of your neck will look swollen, and it might make your throat feel full. It may not hurt. Left alone, the thyroid will eventually shrink on its own, but that doesn’t mean you’re cured. That just means your thyroid is damaged.
A damaged thyroid can’t do its job, which leads to hypothyroidism — too little of the thyroid hormones. Symptoms can include:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Puffy face
- Trouble with bowel movements
- Enlarged tongue
- Pale, dry skin and brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Memory lapse
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
What Is Thyroid Autoimmunity?
Thyroid autoimmunity (or Autoimmune Thyroiditis) is a chronic disease in which the body interprets the thyroid glands and the hormones it produces (T3, T4, and TSH) as threats. Therefore, antibodies target the thyroid’s cells, destroying it. Your thyroid is a small gland in front of your neck that makes hormones that help control just about every organ. When your thyroid doesn’t make enough of these hormones, your body can’t work right. That can affect your energy level, mood, and weight.
If your thyroid becomes inflamed, you have thyroiditis. Sometimes it happens because your body makes antibodies that attack your thyroid by mistake. This condition is called autoimmune thyroiditis, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease.
TSH is produced in the brain by the pituitary gland and signals the thyroid to produce T4. T4 is later converted to the active hormone T3. T3 is utilized for energy production within cells throughout the body. TSH values reveal how the pituitary is functioning and communicating with the thyroid. T4 values tell us that thyroid is making T4 and has bioavailability to make T3. Without T3 values it’s very difficult to assess the function of the thyroid’s output of hormones. T3 uptake indicates the usage and efficiency of T3. Reverse T3 relays information back to the brain when the thyroid has made enough hormones.
Typically, when evaluating thyroid function only two values are obtained, TSH and T4. At Revive Treatment Centers, we fully evaluate the thyroid: TSH, T4, T4 free, T3, T3 free, T3 uptake, reverse T3, TPO, TgAb, and thyroglobulin. When looking at autoimmunity we place emphasis on TPO (thyroid peroxidase) and TgAB (thyroglobulin antibodies). Both of these are measures of thyroid autoimmunity. When these values are out of range it is a sign that your immune system is attacking your thyroid. It’s important to know what antibodies a patient may have in order to properly treat thyroid disease.
Our Approach to Diagnostics and Testing
Our clinicians not only have an understanding of the brain but have extensive knowledge of the immune system. They understand how the immune system and brain interact. This understanding necessitates not only examining your immune health but to assess brain function as well. It is only when both of these systems are functioning optimally that the best results can occur.
How We Evaluate Immune Health:
- Genetic Testing
- Food Sensitivity Testing to both cooked and uncooked foods
- Inflammatory Marker Testing
- Autoimmune Markers for Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
- Viral load Testing
How We Evaluate Brain Health
- Neurological Physical Exam
- VNG for Eye Movements
- CAPS for Balance
The findings from assessments of immune and brain health will allow us to create a plan specific to you. It is common for your plan to include removal of foods creating inflammation as well as nutrition to support immune health. Brain-based treatments are built around establishing healthy communication of the brain and immune system.