“Prior to coming here, my health was on a slow decline, and I didn’t even realize it. My diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease and now gluten-free lifestyle have changed everything for the better. Thank you to Dr. Steven Roach and his great staff!” —Jacquelyn B., Huntersville NC
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
In a patient with Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, the body’s own immune system targets and destroys thyroid tissue. This destruction is not a smooth transition; therefore, a patient with Hashimoto’s can, for a time, have both an overactive and underactive thyroid condition, resulting in both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid symptoms.
Hyperthyroid symptoms might include night sweats; increased pulse at rest or heart palpitations; insomnia; difficulty gaining weight; frequent bowel movements; and feeling overly nervous/emotional, with a sense of inward trembling.
Hypothyroid symptoms involve an opposite list: uncontrollable weight gain; mental sluggishness; constipation; feeling cold all the time; extreme fatigue, etc. (See a more complete list in Symptoms under Low-Thyroid Problems.)
As the patient’s own immune system continues to attack and damage the thyroid gland, thyroid hormone decreases more and more, and the pituitary gland produces more TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to prompt the thyroid to produce more hormone. The thyroid gland can’t do its job, however. Its slow, gradual destruction results in low-thyroid function, and the diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made.
At that point, thyroid hormone medication is prescribed for life. This prescription alone, however, is INEFFECTIVE IN RESOLVING LOW-THYROID SYMPTOMS.
Patients get more thorough answers at Carolinas Thyroid Institute. Using a Functional Medicine approach, Dr. Steven Roach looks for the underlying root problem—for whatever might be causing these continuing symptoms. (See “How does Functional Medicine address Hashimoto’s Disease,” on this page.)
If I have hypothyroid symptoms, how do I know if I have Hashimoto’s Disease?
For 90% of the people with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid Disease is the cause. Sadly, because thyroid hormone medication is used for both hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease, many doctors don’t bother to test for it.
Most patients on thyroid medication don’t know if they have an autoimmune thyroid disease or not. The traditional Western medical community has no answer for an autoimmune illness like Hashimoto’s; therefore, testing for autoimmune antibodies might not be done at all. This is tragic.
At Carolinas Thyroid Institute, Dr. Steven Roach always orders testing for Hashimoto’s antibodies (TPO and TGB) to determine if a patient has the disease.
How does Functional Medicine address Hashimoto’s Disease?
A Functional Medicine approach means asking the right questions about an autoimmune thyroid patient:
- What increases inflammation in this person? Are there food allergies or sensitivities to something like gluten?
- What will help to calm the raging autoimmune response to the thyroid?
- What other factors—like adrenal stress, hidden infections, hormonal imbalances, or heavy-metal toxicities—are making this Hashimoto’s patient less stable?
- What other conditions, like hypoglycemia or insulin resistance, are contributing factors to this problem?
A person’s low-thyroid symptoms will only be resolved by identifying and managing all the root causes involved. Getting help is crucial. Hashimoto’s Disease can have lasting, damaging effects on the brain, for instance, if not treated properly.