Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Front and back view of the thyroid, which is attacked by the immune system in autoimmune hypothyroidismOne of the most common reasons why hypothyroidism occurs is the nutritional lack of iodine in daily consumption or dietary habits. Iodine is an ingredient that provides the body to naturally create a level of thyroid hormones in the body that are generally needed daily to perform bodily functions at a cellular level. Salt used to commonly provide enough iodine in our dietary consumption but the reduction of iodine content in salt has lowered the average iodine intake for the general population. In addition to the emphasis of modern diet trends, salt in general has lowered presence in our foods and ingredients. It is estimated to affect about 35 in 10,000 females and approximately 8 in 10,000 males per year and is generally more common as people age.

There is a condition known as myxedema that occurs during hypothyroidism and it creates an effect where water retained and pooling up to result in structural facial changes such as an enlarged gingiva, which may be associated with uncontrolled and lengthened hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is demonstrated in laboratory results and indicates high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone levels and also lower amounts of thyroxine. Lengthened hypothyroidism may lead to debilitating symptoms such as expression that is dull, eyelids that are puffy, coarse dry skin, lowered and slow mental and physical activity and can affect the cardiovascular system. There are also dental effects in lengthened hypothyroidism such as the previously mentioned enlarged gingival, glossitis and confusion in your taste buds for different flavours.

Image of red and white blood cells, of which white blood cells are part of the immune system that causes autoimmune hypothyroidismAn autoimmune disease under the umbrella of hypothyroidism known as hashimoto’s thyroiditis, presents with thyroid tissues having an antigen that produces inflammation and the slow necrosis of the thyroid gland. There was a Japanese medical scientist discovered in the early 1900’s, named Hashimoto, who discovered the condition. It is a condition that affects females more commonly than males in a ratio of 20:1 and the range of ages affected could be anywhere between age 6 to middle aged people. In the united stated of America it is estimated to affect about 3.7% of the general population.

It is not an unusual case for family members to all shares the condition, such as the mother, daughter and sister. As it is an autoimmune disease, the body is confused and attacks itself as a form of its defensive mechanism. It confuses its own body and tissue as a threat to the health or survival of the host body and treats it as a foreign invasion and so it forms a defensive position with the production of antibodies and proteins that then start destroying the tissue within the thyroid gland and making it impossible for the thyroid gland to produce the needed thyroid hormones for normal day to day function.

There are three primary hormones produced within the thyroid gland and they are T3 (triiodythyronine), T4 (thyroxine) and calcitonin. These hormones are responsible in controlling most if not nearly all of the metabolism of cells within the body. T4 is responsible for regulating the body’s temperature, metabolism of lipids and metabolism of carbohydrates. Calcitonin is responsible for inhibition of the release of calcium in the body, from the bones into our blood and other areas containing fluid, as well as the regulation of phosphorus and serum calcium levels.

Thyroid hormones play an essential role in our normal day to day bodily functions and when its function is disabled or deregulated, symptoms can occur such as; cold sensitivity, fatigue, constipation, a swollen face, vocal changes, pain in the joints, gain of weight, aches of muscles, tenderness in the upper body, dry skin, memory loss, slowing of thought and depression. Treatment for hypothyroidism usually comes in the form of hormone replacement via levyoxul and cytomel. Picture of cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, cruciferous foods that can worsen autoimmune hypothyroidism There are also some foods that play a role in interfering with thyroid hormone creation to further slow down and inhibit thyroid functionality. These would be foods that are considered a part of the cruciferous segment of foods such as; cabbage, cauliflower, radishes and turnips. It has been suggested by some physicians that these foods should be consumed in moderation to reduce the negative on the thyroid glands. Also stress plays a part in elevating levels of autoimmune disease effects, so it is important to find strategies to lower the stressful impacts in your life through vices such as relaxation, yoga, physical activity, social interaction and a general sense of positivity and lighter outlook on life.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Front and back view of the thyroid, which is attacked by the immune system in autoimmune hypothyroidism