What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
An autoimmune disease is not like having a virus or bacterial infection. It is where your immune system is attacking a part of your body as if it is a foreign invader or pathogen, like a toxin, virus or bacteria. The organ is then damaged and your health is compromised.
The challenge is if you don’t stop the immune system attack, it can completely damage that part of the body, and may even continue to other parts of the body.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks the thyroid gland. In this process, thyroid gland cells are destroyed, which over time can lead to an underactive thyroid. There isn’t enough thyroid gland cells anymore to produce the thyroid hormones that your body needs.
Interesting is that Hashi’s is known under several names, but it is all the same condition: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s disease, autoimmune thyroiditis or chronic thyroiditis.
This is not a thyroid problem. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an immune system that is attacking the thyroid gland. It is a problem with the immune system that affects the functioning of the thyroid gland. There is no cure yet, but it doesn’t mean you can’t live symptom-free! It is possible to calm your immune system and stop it from progressing.
What Some Doctors say…
“We will wait for your thyroid to burn out. There is nothing more we can do”
If your doctor told you this, run! An autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is progressive, meaning that once your thyroid is completely destroyed, the immune system will continue to attack other parts of the body. There are lifestyle changes you can make that will make a huge difference in reducing symptoms and even put you in remission.
“Your blood labs are normal. There is nothing wrong with you.”
What is normal for the general population is not normal for you. You can still be within normal ranges and feel the debilitating symptoms. What you are looking for is that your levels are optimized, and these ranges are often very different from the normal ranges. Normal is not enough, we want optimal!
“I only test for TSH and T4. The other tests or not necessary.”
To fully appreciate and understand the story of what is happening in your body, you need to test for the full thyroid panel. This includes TSH, Free T4, Free T3, TPO antibodies and Tg antibodies. Sometimes it may also be worthwhile to test for Reverse T3. Most Hashi’s sufferers are also deficient in vitamin D, and other tests you can ask for include ferritin and iron, zinc and the sex hormones (oestrogen, testosterone and progresterone).
“Changing you diet won’t help. Unless you want to lose weight.”
Diet plays a huge role in autoimmunity, and just by removing gluten and dairy you should see an improvement in how you feel!
“If you want to lose weight, just exercise more and eat less.”
When you have Hashi’s and you have picked up weight despite trying everything you can to lose it, these words from a doctor can be devastating. Your thyroid gland is responsible for your metabolism and if it cannot produce the right amount of hormones, your metabolism will be impacted! Also, one of the most debilitating symptoms of Hashi’s is the in-your-bones-cannot-explain-it-I-feel-dead exhaustion. You want me to go exercise? Bad advice. Exercise can make you feel much worse (yes, it is possible to feel worse) and slow your healing journey.