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What Exactly Is Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism

Dr. Hakaru Hashimoto, a Japanese doctor, is studying the shortage of goiter and iodine. Currently, goiters and thyroid disease are strongly associated with iodine deficiency. While researching, Dr Hashimoto discovered a type of goiter that seemed unrelated to iodine deficiency. He biopsied these goiters and his histopathological findings recorded lymphocyte infiltration, fibrosis, parenchymal atrophy, and eosinophilic changes of acinar cells. He called this a characteristic type of new lymphomatous thyroid disease "Hashimoto thyroiditis" or lymphocytic thyroiditis.

At the time of Dr. Hashimoto reported his discovery in 1912 that German was considered a scientific language. In seeking the widest audience for his discovery, Dr. Hashimoto published his work in the German journal. He wants to make the most of his work around the world and thinks this will be the best way to do it. Not many years later, however, he was credited for his first recognized autoimmune condition.

To this day, 101 years later, Hashimoto's thyroiditis remains an enigma. The reason is the variety of symptoms the patient presents.

Side note: Some papers on Hashimoto's thyroiditis say that at times the patient will not report any symptoms. This is inaccurate and may be due to inexperienced people taking the patient's history. Patients with Hashimoto have a variety of symptoms with varying degrees of severity and a comprehensive history will reflect these symptoms.

It is not uncommon for patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis to have symptoms of hypothyroidism and hypertension. The most common symptoms are fatigue but someone with Hashimoto's can also present with racing heart, feeling "on edge" or nervous, and brain fog or loss of mental clarity.

Symptoms of hypertension are obvious when your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone called thyroxine. It creates "hyper" signs and symptoms by speeding up the body's metabolism significantly. Typically these symptoms include the inability to lose weight or sudden weight loss, sweating, rapid and irregular heart rate, nervousness, diarrhea and irritation. Hashimoto causes excessive release of thyroxine when the thyroid gland is under active attack by the body's own immune system. During the invasion of the thyroid tissue it is destroyed and any of the thyroxine in this tissue is released into the body causing a surge of this hormone into the bloodstream. This is why a person with Hashimoto's thyroiditis can develop a temporary attack of hyperthyroidism and return symptoms of hypothyroidism.

After the attack the weakness of the thyroid gland that works to produce the thyroid hormone weakens and this shows itself as a slow metabolism. Weight loss, constipation, fatigue, slow heart rate, and depression are some of the symptoms that reflect this "hypo" or decreased thyroid hormone release or known as hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto is the gradual destruction of the thyroid gland by the body's own immune system. Often, someone will suffer with Hashimoto for years before seeking help. However, traditional allopathic treatments are usually only intended to reach TSH blood levels (hormone stimulating hormone) in a "normal" environment. Although thyroid hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is needed at certain times, the underlying autoimmunity problem requires support or the thyroid gland will continue to be destroyed. Also, it is common for patients who take thyroid replacement hormone to continue having symptoms.

Another important thing is that someone with an autoimmune problem cannot stop just attacking the thyroid gland. Other organs, including the pancreas and the brain, are all at risk. It's important to diagnose this condition as early as possible.

Don't assume that just because there is no family history of thyroid disease in your family you are not exposed. Also do not think that thyroid conditions are passed down to middle-aged women. We saw over 20 and 30 year old women and men who presented with thyroid symptoms and many with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Often, when taking the history of this group, they report having experienced their symptoms since they were children or teenagers. This gives us confidence that there are a number of children and adolescents who are not diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis in the U.S.

With varying levels of hormones depending on the hyperbolic / hypertensive part of the time, it would be difficult for an inexperienced practitioner to diagnose a patient with Hashimoto only through basic thyroid laboratory tests. If Hashimoto's thyroiditis is suspected, a practitioner may order a blood test that assesses the amount of body antibody against thyroglobulin (TG) and thyroid peroxidase (TPO). Needle biopsy can also be directed to rule out the presence of lymphocytes and macrophages. The majority of the needle biopsy time is not required to diagnose Hashimoto.

Urination or enlargement of the thyroid gland is sometimes associated with Hashimoto's disease. Goiter can be great for disfiguring or enlarged thyroid size can only make it uncomfortable to wear a scarf or torso. At times, the neck or throat will be sore or tender.

Functional medicine utilizes an appropriate treatment approach for autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) such as Hashimoto's. Causal factors such as food allergens with cross reactivity are addressed with functional drugs and other systems involved outside the immune system.


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