Autoimmune diseases affect nearly 24 million Americans and thyroid diseases affect about 20 million. This is 4.6 percent of the population or approximately 5 in every 100 people ages 12 and over. (NIDDK, n.d.) For many people this is of concern when symptoms go unchecked and undiagnosed suffering needlessly when there are treatments and therapies that can relieve recurring pain and suffering.
What is your thyroid?
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of your neck. Hormones produced by your thyroid gland have an enormous impact on your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism. While there are many disorders and diseases of the thyroid, two major potential issues the thyroid may experience are hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Diseases of the thyroid include Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease, and Cushing’s syndrome.
What is Hypothyroidism and what are the symptoms?
Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs. Without thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that can cause hypothyroidism. With Hashimoto’s, your immune system attacks your thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, weight gain, facial puffiness, cold intolerance, muscle, and joint pain, constipation, thinning hair, decreased sweating, menstrual and fertility issues, depression, and slowed heart rate. (NIDDK, n.d.)
What is Hyperthyroidism and what are these symptoms?
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is when the thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. Grave’s disease, an autoimmune disorder, is when your immune system attacks your thyroid and causes it to make too much hormone. Cushing’s syndrome is a disorder that occurs when the body makes too much of the hormone cortisol over a long period of time.
Symptoms include nervousness and irritability, fatigue, muscle weakness, heat intolerance, trouble sleeping, tremors, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, bowel issues, weight loss, mood swings, and goiter (enlarged thyroid). (MedlinePlus, 2020).
Who develops thyroid problems? Why does this happen?
Women are more likely to develop thyroid problems especially right after pregnancy and menopause. Other risk factors include woman over age 60, those with other autoimmune disorders such as type one Diabetes or Celiac disease, those who have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications, patients who have received radiation to the upper neck or chest, had thyroid surgery or who have been pregnant or had a baby in the past six months. This can happen due to some medications, congenital disease, pituitary disorder, iodine deficiency, or other factors. If untreated thyroid problems can lead to goiter, heart problems, mental health issues, peripheral neuropathy, myxedema, infertility, and birth defects. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)
The Autoimmune Disorder Connection
Many chronic sufferers of thyroid issues have an autoimmune disease. This can cause your body to attack its own healthy cells mistaking them for foreign invaders. This can affect not only your thyroid. Your intestines, skin, brain, pancreas, and other organs can suffer. This can be caused by leaky gut, gluten, or other sensitivities, toxins, or stress.
Testing for Thyroid and Autoimmune Issues and Potential Pitfalls
Traditional treatment consists of blood testing using a thyroid blood panel which usually just tests TSH but does not cover diet, environment, or other possible causes. Thyroid medication is generally prescribed. Functional Medicine seeks to determine the causes of thyroid and autoimmune issues. This can be determined through additional medical testing, cortisol testing, food sensitivity testing, blood thyroid panel that includes 7 tests, and a review of lifestyle, environment, and other lifestyle factors.
How Functional Medicine Testing and Treatment can be Effective over Traditional Therapies
While Functional Medicine uses blood tests and other testing to determine diagnosis of thyroid and autoimmune disorders, it also forms a partnership between the patient and the doctor. When patients have chronic symptoms, Functional Medicine aims to identify imbalances and irregularities. Lifestyle and environment reviews, food sensitivity testing, metal toxicity testing, adrenal stress profiles, advanced cardiometabolic testing, comprehensive stool analysis, and even genetic testing are just a few of the tools that can be used to pinpoint the root cause of these diseases. While in traditional medicine the question of “what” is answered, the question of “WHY?” most often remains unanswered. Visiting a Functional Medicine doctor is the first step in identifying the root cause of your thyroid or autoimmune issues and a step to creating a treatment protocol that’s right for you. Dietary changes, adopting some lifestyle changes and appropriate supplementation can support your body in the first steps to renewed health.
Functional Medicine, Functional Neurology, and autoimmune conditions including thyroid treatment are managed by our clinical director, Dr. Tony Aboudib, DC. To learn more call Michigan Health and Wellness for a FREE consultation. Dr. Aboudib attended post-graduate studies at Carrick Institute for graduate studies in clinical neuroscience, American Functional Neurology Institute, Functional Medicine University, Institute of Functional Medicine, and Kharrazian Institute for graduate studies.
For more information call 231-421-5213
National Institute of diabetes and digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism
Medline Plus. (2020). Hyperthyroidism. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/hyperthyroidism.html
Mayo Clinic. (20220). Hypothyroidism. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284