Hashimotos (Autoimmune Thyroiditis)
Lisa Medlin DNP, APRN, FNP-C
What is Hashimotos?
Hashimotos (a.k.a autoimmune thyroiditis) is an auto-immune disorder. The body makes antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation, malfunction, and eventually death of the gland. This disorder is the most common autoimmune disorder in the United States and affects both men and women. However, it affects women at a rate 8 times higher than men. It is often diagnosed long after other autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, and Fibromyalgia are diagnosed. However, many scientists believe that Hashimotos is often the first autoimmune disorder that the body develops. Thus, a person may have this disorder for many years without being diagnosed.
How is Hashimoto’s diagnosed?
Hashimoto’s may mimic hypothyroidism, often leading to misdiagnosis. To diagnose the disorder, the health care provider should order a lab test that includes a thyroid profile (TSH, T4, Free T3) and TPO Antibodies. A lab test of TPO Antibodies greater than 30 is indicative of Hashimotos. The TSH, T4, and T3 help the provider determine what dosage of thyroid supplementation the person should be treated with. (For information on hypothyroid disorder see IMPORTANCE OF THRYOID).
How is Hashimoto’s treated?
Hashimoto’s often causes a hypothyroid state requiring thyroid supplementation with Armour Thyroid or NP Thyroid (Please see THE GOAL OF THYROID SUPPLEMENTATION.) While this will help decrease symptoms and cause the person to feel better, it does nothing to treat and lower the antibody level and decrease inflammation of the thyroid gland. Supplementation with Iodine, Zinc, and Selenium are important components of treatment as they increase the conversion of T4 to T3. Low Dose Naltrexone may also be used to help decrease the antibody level and the inflammation caused by the diseased. Other aspects of the treatment of Hashimoto’s include diet and gut health. A low inflammatory diet that is free of gluten, grains, and dairy products should be maintained, and a high-quality probiotic should be taken as supplementation for gut health.
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