Previously on this blog I explained the number one cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is an autoimmune thyroid condition. I also explained some of the mechanics about how the immune system becomes unbalanced and attacks the thyroid or other body parts. Further explanation is warranted. Far too many people are suffering with afflictions and they need help. Perhaps this article will help them find answers.
The reason for the immune system attack in autoimmune conditions is an imbalance in the TH-1 and TH-2 immune system. So how do you know if you have autoimmune thyroid, which is also know as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis? The most common way to determine if your immune system is atacking your thyoid is to run a couple of blood tests that are not typically done in the statndard assessment of thyroid function. The usual tests done to assess thyroid function are TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4. When there is an autoimmune attack on any body tissue, the immune system makes antibodies against the tissues deemed worthy of destruction. Antibodies are like Post-it® notes. The TH-2 portion of the immune system places antibodies on a tissue or substance it wants marked for destruction. The TH-1 part of the immune sytem seeks out the "Post-it® notes" and destroys the tissues they are attachted to.
Now with that explanation, the specific addtional blood tests needed for evaluation of autoimmune thyoid are TPO and TGB antibodies. If these antibody tests are positive, you have an autoimmune thyroid. My guess is that your doctor has not run these two tests. It's just not typcially done as it is considered medically unnecessary with initial screening for thyroid malfunction. Below you will see is an explanation of this policy of only typically testing TSH I found on someone's blood test results they brought in to me during their case revew.
In my opinion, there are many other tests that need to be run for thorough thyroid assessment, but TPO and TBG antiboides are the two big ones to determine if you have an autoimmune thyroid.
Below you can see the results of the thyroid blood tests I ordered on someone whose thyroid screening (TSH) was normal (See above). Notice that TSH and T4 and T3 are all in the normal range. Even though this particual person has "normal" thyroid blood tests - meaning other practitioners only measured T4 and TSH, they also have an autoummune attack present due the presence of TPO antibodies (TPO - Ab). This image is a good example of why I always test for more that just TSH and T4 in my thyroid function assessment.
If you do have a postitive on one or both of these antibody tests, indicating you have an autoimmune condition, your next most important task is to find out WHY you are autoimmune.
Remember, in my last article I discussed two parts to your immune system, TH1 and TH2. They
need to work in balance. If one is dominant or working harder than the other, it's usually because of one or two broad reasons. One reason is called an active antigen pattern. What is an active antigen? It can be a parasite. It can be a virus, bacteria, mold or fungi you are infested with. It could also be a food protein, such as gluten (the protein in wheat, barley and
rye) or casein (milk protein) that you are intolerant or allergic to, but don't realize.
Another reason your immune system could become imbalanced is due to dysregulation as a result of:
- Hormonal surges
- Extreme stress
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Chronic inflammation
- High cortisol levels
All of these reasons and more can cause your immune system to become dysregulated.
What are the telltale signs that you are autoimmune?
One way is to run tests, specifically TPO and TGB antibodies, to see if you have an autoimmune thyroid or Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Other signs someone is autoimmune is they may already suffer from a current autoimmune disorder, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Parkinson's disease
Another way that people might suspect they have an autoimmune condition is that their symptoms may wax and wane. I often find this patient has been to multiple doctors and is on many medications to deal with all their various symptoms, but they still are feeling ill and keep developing additional sypmtoms despite being on a truckload of medications.
The third way to know if a patient's autoimmune is that they will come in with a basket of supplements--I mean a truck-load. I've had people bring in so many bottles of supplements it wasn't funny. In many cases, the supplements that they are taking were actually making them worse!
Number four...their life fell apart after they got sick. That's how they know they're autoimmune. They've been to 12 or 15 or 20 different doctors and they have a stack of medical records sky-high, all because it's an undiagnosed autoimmune condition. Just a couple of days ago a teenage boy was brought into my office suffering from vertigo ever since he had a virus eighteen months ago. Now this all "A" student can't even attend school due to his dizziness...and he is on seven different medications! While probing into the family history there are several relatives with autoimmune disorders. I'm suspecting this boy is autoimmne as well.
It's fairly common for females to develop an autoimmune condition following a pregnancy. Normally women are TH2 dominant in the third trimester and TH1 dominant postpartum. This "normal" imbalance of the immune system, coupled with an active antigen or dysregulation pattern, can tip the scales and the immune system turns from "Dr. Jeckyll to Mr. Hyde"
You see, your immune system is designed to protect you. When your immune system runs amuck, it starts attacking different parts of your body. It's important to know that once you realize you have an autoimmune condition, you need to get checked, and you need to manage the reason why you have an autoimmune condition. It's your only hope to helping calm down the immune system so you can have the best chance of recovering your health.