Why is hypothyroidism treatment so complicated?
Well, it is not if you understand what the real problem is.
People who have hypothyroidism are often told that their thyroid gland has stopped working. What exactly does this mean and how to reduce thyroid dysfunction?
One of the most common reasons is autoimmunity. This is when your immune system starts attacking itself.
This condition is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or simply Hashimoto’s disease. In this, the gland is inflamed which leads to underactive thyroid.
It is seen more commonly in females, especially after pregnancy. It could be related to family history, eating too much iodine or exposure to radiation.
Anti thyroglobulin and anti TPO antibodies are commonly found in these cases. These antibodies block thyroid gland function.
Usually, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels secreted by the pituitary gland are used as markers of thyroid function. However, in cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, symptoms may not be relieved even if TSH levels are normal.
If you have one autoimmune disease, you might develop others. This is why inflammation has to be controlled as soon as possible.
At Jeevam Health, we use functional medicine to find the root cause and reduce inflammation. This can protect you in the future as well. It also helps you live a healthy life, without being controlled by your disease.
What are the most common root causes?
The first question that comes to mind is - why did I develop thyroid disease? A lot of the answers may be in your gut.
When gut health is poor, many substances which should normally not be absorbed end up in your blood. This is referred to as a leaky gut.
These may further cause an immune reaction resulting in autoimmunity. This can end up affecting any organ in the body.
The different factors which can affect gut health are:
- Improper diet or refined foods
- Alcohol intake
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Medications such as aspirin
- Toxins and heavy metals
Different people have different causes of food sensitivity.
Intake of gluten (found in wheat) is a cause of great distress to some, while others tolerate it. Advanced genetic testing measures are now available to detect how sensitive you are to it.
Similarly, while some people praise the health benefits of dairy, others cannot digest it well. This is why a thyroid specialist should be consulted while formulating a diet. This takes into consideration your specific problems.
Improving gut health is a commitment to taking care of yourself. It means adopting a hypothyroidism diet plan and altering your lifestyle. This requires sustained efforts. These can often lead to a lot of improvement.
How do we detect the root cause?
A simple 3 step procedure helps us better understand your complaints and current status.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are many. If you want to know how to cure thyroid permanently, we need to go in-depth.
This step helps us to get a detailed view of your challenges.
At the end of this you also get your personal health score. This simple tool helps you measure the improvement in your body over time.
Detailed biomarker analysis
A biomarker is something that is naturally found in the body. It is used to see how well an organ or system is working.
For example, let us consider the digestive system. This is responsible for breaking down the food that we eat. It also absorbs this food. It detoxifies the body and eliminates waste.
Therefore, the level of nutrients such as iron and vitamins directly reflect how well your gut is working. Similarly, protein levels and waste products are also measured.
The end result is a score which considers a whole set of tests. Using these scores, you can see how your body is healing.
Timeline and health matrix
This gives a clear breakdown of how different systems can be affected by a single underlying process. This helps your thyroid doctor in formulating the final hypothyroidism treatment plan.
This means that in the presence of inflammation and autoimmune disease affects your whole body. These can cause many different diseases.
Who needs a hypothyroidism treatment plan?
If you can relate to any of these, you may be suffering from Hashimoto’s disease. In this case, you need to opt for a more detailed analysis by a thyroid doctor:
This means thyroid problems continue despite taking enough medication. If you are regular with tablets but your TSH levels remain high, a deeper cause may be responsible.
Do you continue to
- feel tired
- gain weight
- experience cold intolerance
- have constipation
With the right treatment, these symptoms should reduce.
Other members in the family such as parents having diabetes or hypothyroidism
You may unknowingly have a history of exposure to triggers in childhood. Maybe you may not even realise that they can be related to your present problems.
This is why a detailed medical history is important. This is not limited to conventional thyroid symptoms.
An example is repeated infections in childhood and intake of antibiotics. These disturb gut health. When gut bacteria are destroyed, it puts you at risk of developing autoimmune diseases in the future.
You may be consuming a high gluten diet without being conscious of it. This includes diets rich in wheat based products such as rotis and breads.
Pregnancy is one of the most common triggers for autoimmune disease. A lot of women are diagnosed after delivery.
Although the pregnancy itself is normal, patients may find it difficult to lose weight after delivery.
Thyroid hormone levels for replacement may start at lower doses of 25 to 50mcg. They can gradually be increased up to 150mcg. Even then, several patients continue to experience symptoms.
This is mainly because medication does not reduce the antibodies causing inflammation. So thyroid gland destruction continues.
Another reason is imbalance between T3 and T4 levels. This is because hormone replacement is mainly in the T4 form. Some cases may require added T3 supplementation.
How to treat Hashimoto’s disease?
We have now understood that every step in thyroid function is controlled by several factors.
Providing additional T4 is only one part of the hypothyroidism treatment plan. Conventional treatment focuses only on this aspect. This is why several patients are on very high doses of thyroid medication.
When all the underlying causes are worked upon, it automatically becomes easier to reduce the doses of medication.
Even so, hypothyroidism treatment takes time. It is not an overnight process. Results take a few weeks to months. Patience is key.
Let us enumerate the steps that go into the management of autoimmune disease:
Reach a diagnosis:
This includes blood tests to check for anti-TPO and anti thyroglobulin antibodies. If these are present, it means you have Hashimoto’s disease.
A detailed medical history is also taken to reach the root cause.
A detailed investigation of your current health status helps personalize a plan. This brings to focus nutritional deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin D, and others.
It is important to note that these may not have specific complaints to diagnose them. This is why they often remain untreated for long.
Without these essential nutrients, thyroid hormone cannot function in your body.
Introduction of an elimination diet:
Several food products increase inflammation in the body. These include sugar, refined carbohydrates, certain oils and so on. These can be removed by using a thyroid diet chart.
A specific list of anti-inflammatory foods helps to control the effects of antibodies. Foods which are known to interfere with working of the thyroid gland are also removed.
The diet process adopted also focuses on healing your gut. An important part of this is removing toxins. Through this process the root cause is addressed.
Optimization of treatment:
You may be taking medication in doses higher than required.
At Jeevam Health, we evaluate which form of replacement you need. This is so that you receive optimal levels of T4.If required, T3 and T4 combination is given.
As stated, these measures are continued for 2-3 months with repeated testing. This includes TSH levels and health score.
In this period, patients begin to experience gradual weight loss and relief of symptoms.
Treatment of other diseases:
The body works as a single unit. Problems cannot be treated individually. Every system affects the other. Hence, a complete health assessment considering other diseases is done.
Sleep and exercise are essential components of your overall health. In due time, measures to control stress are also introduced.
Early detection of disease is needed to start treatment early. The longer you have an autoimmune thyroid disease, the more destruction occurs in the gland. The tissue once destroyed does not come back.
This is why people having disease for a long time often require continued medication. This may be at a low maintenance dose of 25mcg.
Autoimmune thyroid disease requires a different approach which your functional medicine doctor can help you with. Thyroid medication, when used judiciously, can have minimal side effects. Addressing the root cause is the best way to improve your whole body health.
We’re here to help. Please get in touch with us and we can help address your concerns and assist you in your journey to better health. Book a call with Jeevam Health Team NOW!