What is Hashimoto's Disease?

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Hi y'all! Dr. Dana Gibbs here, your go-to thyroid and hormone expert from the heart of North Texas. In this blog post we're doing a deep dive into Hashimoto's disease, a condition often shrouded in misunderstanding. This is going to be a two-part series, so stay tuned as we unravel the latest facts about Hashimoto's, shedding light on its complexities.

And as always, a quick reminder that I'm not your personal physician, and this post is for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice. Now let's dive in!

Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is the most common autoimmune thyroid disorder in the U.S. and globally. Affecting around 15% of Americans and 24% of allergic women, it's a sneaky condition that often goes unnoticed. More prevalent in women, Hashimoto's can strike at any age, with onset typically seen in the teens to thirties.

The triggers for Hashimoto's are as elusive as the disease itself. Factors like high iodine levels, pregnancy, infections, and toxins are suspected culprits, but the true trigger remains a mystery. Often, the disease silently progresses for years before detection, making it the gateway autoimmune disorder that may pave the way for more severe conditions later in life.

So how does Hashimoto's affect the body?

In Hashimoto's, the immune system turns on the thyroid gland, considering it a threat. Antibodies, specifically thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies, wage war on the thyroid, leading to destructive processes. The result? Fluctuations in thyroid hormone levels, manifesting as hyperthyroidism, euthyroidism, and eventually, hypothyroidism.

It doesn't wait for the thyroid to malfunction before wreaking havoc. Patients can experience symptoms even with seemingly normal thyroid hormone levels, a condition dubbed subclinical hypothyroidism. Inflammation, gland swelling, and the infiltration of lymphocytes into the thyroid can cause discomfort long before conventional tests signal trouble.

Navigating Hashimoto's requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis. A battery of tests, including free T3, free T4, TSH, total T3, and reverse T3, should be conducted at the same time daily. Thyroid antibodies, such as thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies, offer crucial insights. The ratio of total T3 to reverse T3 serves as a valuable indicator of thyroid health.

Once diagnosed, treatment strategies for Hashimoto's are varied. The conventional approach of waiting for overt hypothyroidism is under scrutiny. Recent studies challenge the reliance on TSH and free T4 alone, prompting a reevaluation of when intervention is warranted. We'll look at this more in the next part, so stay tuned for part two as we delve deeper into treatment options and emerging research.

Again, I'm Dr. Dana Gibbs, an integrative physician passionate about empowering you with knowledge about your thyroid and hormone imbalances. Visit my website at www.danagibbsmd.com for free resources, blogs, and videos. Until next time, stay informed and stay healthy!


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