Autoimmune Disorders and Your Thyroid

Autoimmune Disorders and Your Thyroid

Is your thyroid messed up?

We talk to many people, especially women, who are unhappy with their thyroid treatment options.  It’s no wonder.  So many doctors check limited labs and adjust medications based on the numbers, not the person in front of them who is suffering.

Our approach is much different.

Our patients come first!  We want to know how you feel and optimize your thyroid based on how you are feeling, not just labs.

What labs do we run for thyroid?

  • TSH
  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • Reverse T3
  • Anti-thyroglobulin antibodies
  • Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies

Keep reading to learn about your thyroid, how it’s related to autoimmune diseases, what these labs mean, and what you can do to live a full life despite thyroid issues.

What Is Your Thyroid?

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland. You can find it at the front of the neck, just under the voice box. It makes hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy. The thyroid also plays a crucial role in maintaining your weight, muscle strength, body temperature, and mood.

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland does not secrete enough hormones. Symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin

An example of an autoimmune disease that is also hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland secretes too much of your thyroid hormones. Symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Rapid heart rate

An example of an autoimmune disease that is also hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease.

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) Lab

The TSH blood test measures the amount of TSH in your system. Made in the pituitary gland when thyroid levels are low, the pituitary gland creates more TSH, and when thyroid levels are high, it makes less TSH. Thus, TSH levels that are too high or too low can indicate your thyroid is malfunctioning.

Free T3 (Triiodothyronine) and Free T4 (thyroxine) Labs

T3 is one of two major thyroid hormones that the thyroid gland produces. The other major hormone is T4. Together they help control the rate at which your body uses energy.

Almost all the T3 and T4 you find in the blood are bound to protein. Free T3 and free T4 are levels of the unbound forms of these hormones. They also happen to be the biologically active forms of these hormones.

The thyroid mainly produces T4. Much of this hormone is inactive, but the liver and other tissues convert it to more active T3.

The feedback system that the body utilizes to maintain stable amounts of thyroid hormones in the blood regulates T3, T4, TSH, and TRH.

Reverse T3 Lab

RT3 is a less common form of T3. T4’s metabolism creates this hormone. If you’re experiencing depression, chronic stress, anxiety, brain fog, weight fluctuations, and/or hair loss, your doctor may recommend this test.

Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibodies Lab

This blood test looks for antibodies that the body makes in response to thyroglobulin.

The thyroid makes the protein thyroglobulin.

Thyroglobulin antibody tests can help diagnose autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and autoimmune thyroid disease. You may also use this test (and others) to check for thyroid cancer.

It’s vital to know that thyroglobulin antibodies attack thyroglobulin proteins and can destroy the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Antibodies Lab

TPO is an enzyme that you can usually find in the thyroid gland. TPO plays a vital role in producing thyroid hormones.

A TPO test looks for antibodies against TPO in the blood. When TPO antibodies are present in the blood, it suggests that the cause of thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder, like the ones already mentioned in this blog.

When antibodies attack the thyroid gland, they can cause symptoms like:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Reduced function of the thyroid gland

It doesn’t mean you have thyroid disease because you have TPO antibodies. However, the presence of TPO antibodies still increases the risk of future thyroid disorders.

Thyroid Disorders and Exercise

Did you know physical activity makes your thyroid hormones work better at the individual cell level?

If you suffer from a malfunctioning thyroid, you may want to consider some form of physical activity. Start slowly at first. Try something like yoga, and then work your way up to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

Exercise can help many symptoms associated with thyroid problems, like:

  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Insomnia

Exercise cannot cure thyroid problems on its own. You must still seek treatment for a malfunctioning thyroid while doing what you can to manage the symptoms.

Micronutrients and Your Thyroid

Did you know you need healthy levels of b-vitamins, iodine, and selenium to make the thyroid work better?

  • Selenium – you need this nutrient for thyroid hormone production. It also helps protect your thyroid from damage that oxidative stress causes. Naturally, the thyroid contains high selenium levels, and a deficiency could cause thyroid dysfunction.
  • Iodine – the only known role of iodine in the human body is its vital role in thyroid function. Iodine helps support thyroid hormone production, as T3 and T4 contain iodine. An iodine deficiency could lead to thyroid disease.
  • B Vitamins – these are particularly important for individuals with hypothyroidism as B vitamins happen to have many interactions with thyroid function and hormone regulation.

It’s best to take a supplement that includes the entire vitamin B complex. You may also need to take extra vitamin B12 if blood tests show low levels.

Gut Health and Thyroid Health

The gut and our diet are tied to thyroid hormones. When Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is suspected, we recommend a gluten-free diet and gut-healing program to start to reverse the triggers.

Thyroid and gut diseases tend to go together. For example, thyroid disease and celiac disease often co-exist. Many people also find that gut dysbiosis (an unhealthy microbiota imbalance) often coincides with thyroid disease.

Overall, poor gut health may make it harder for your thyroid to function correctly, while an unhealthy thyroid may also contribute to inflammation and a leaky gut.

Treat Your Thyroid with Some Care

Your thyroid gland is an essential part of how your body regulates itself. Many factors go into ensuring that your thyroid stays healthy. A good diet, proper exercise, and seeing a doctor when you feel something may be off will allow you to maintain your thyroid health.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms we’ve listed in this blog and believe your thyroid may be the cause, visit The James Clinic today.

While we use blood tests to confirm any thyroid problems, we also listen to our patients’ feelings. If you’re not feeling right, we’ll get to the bottom of it. We don’t just care about treating the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction but treating the root cause.

Request a consult today or contact us for more information about our services.