Dr. David Clark, DC - Durham, NC - explains why Hashimoto's is an overlooked and ignored cause of chronic low thyroid symptoms in women whose labs may look "normal."
Hidden cause #7 why you still have low thyroid symptoms even though your lab tests are normal--and even though you're taking medication---is...
You have Hashimoto’s and your immune system is attacking thyroid peroxidase.
Now, I’m sort of cheating on this one because Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. So, maybe it’s really not "hidden" per se but it could be hidden to your doctor.
I have found that lot of the women that I see in my office, they’ve never been tested for Hashimoto’s. They’ve probably had Hashimoto's undetected for 15, 20 years and its been sabotaging their life,--ruining their life--making them feel crummy. And they’ve never been tested for it. And that’s why I’m calling it “hidden.”
What is TPO?
TPO stands for thyroid peroxidase. It’s an enzyme inside your thyroid gland that you use to make thyroid hormones, T4 and T3. So, let me give you the thyroid story, the background science....
Your pituitary gland sends a signal to your thyroid gland called TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone. And I’m sure you’ve had this tested before. The TSH then tells the thyroid gland to make T4 and T3. About 97% of what your thyroid gland makes is T4--T4 is inactive. It doesn’t do anything. It’s got to be converted by your body into T3. Thyroid peroxidase is what you must have in order to make T4.
In Hashimoto’s your immune system is mistakenly attacking and killing your thyroid peroxidase. Over time, if you kill enough of the thyroid peroxidase, it slows down your thyroid gland--like a factory with no workers.
Slowly, your levels of T4 drop lower... and lower.... and lower....
And you start to feel bad and have low thyroid symptoms.
Just to note---you can feel bad anytime during that slow decrease, not just at the end.
TPO Antibodies are a hidden cause because a lot of doctors don’t check for it.
They just think:
“You're hypothyroid. Your TSH is high. Your T4 is low. We’re just going to give you some Synthroid® or Armour®. And we’ll see you back in six months. Hope you do okay. “
The problem with the approach is: you might have Hashimoto’s...and it might have been detected if the doctor had actually ran the TPO antibody test.
In Hashimoto’s, taking thyroid hormones doesn’t do much for this autoimmune attack.
There can be a "hormone honeymoon" where you feel pretty good for a couple weeks or a month. (I’ve seen this a thousand times.
But over time, you have to increase your dosage to feel good (or just NOT bad).
Or even at the same dosage, after awhile you just don’t feel good. You still have these low thyroid symptoms:
- dry hair
- hair loss
- brain fog
- high cholesterol
- can’t get enough sleep
You STILL have these awful symptoms even though you’re taking medication.
Hidden cause #7 is when you’re attacking TPO.
Now, what can be for Hashimoto's?
First, let’s ask this question: Why would this happen?
For a couple of reasons.
Hashimoto’s is a genetic condition that can be turned on at a couple of different times in a woman’s life...primarily:
Other factors can trigger (turn on) Hashimoto’s....
....If you have a bad illness.
....If you have a car wreck.
....If you go through a stressful divorce or some other psychological stressor.
Those are all things that can turn these genes on and---pow!---now you’ve got Hashimoto’s.
The reason this is hidden---and I’m going to stress this for the fourth time---is because doctors don’t look for Hashimoto's.
Because for them, from the medical approach, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got Hashimoto’s because all they’re going to do is give you the same hormones. They’re not going to do anything specific for that autoimmune problem.
Ignoring Hashimoto's can be dangerous.
Having Hashimoto’s--an autoimmune problem-- predisposes you to developing another autoimmune condition. Another attack on more and different tissues.
Having one autoimmune condition makes it easier for you to developing an attack on, for example, your pancreas or your stomach. Expanding autoimmune attacks can cause of web of symptoms that really make your life terrible--as if having low thyroid symptoms wasn’t bad enough.
So, what should you do?
- If you’ve got any type of low thyroid symptoms or you’ve already been diagnosed hypothyroid and you’re still not feeling good, you need to get tested to see if you’ve got Hashimoto’s.
- And then you need to find someone who knows what to do about Hashimoto’s.
Find someone who understands the "functional approach" to autoimmunity---who understands what autoimmunity means...what are all the factors make it worse...what makes it better. What foods, herbs etc should you avoid like the plague. What you should take.
There is a lot of things that you can do to help you feel better--Even while you're taking medication.
Hidden cause #7. It’s anti-TPO antibodies.
You’ve got Hashimoto’s. And it’s hidden because most doctors don’t look for it.
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© 2012 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. David Clark, DC
Functional Neurologist (FACFN)
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist (ACNB)
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