The Dangers of Hashimoto's – Part 2

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted October 7, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's. It's important to note that Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism are not the same condition. People who have Hashimoto's often progress to hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. But not always. Sometimes people can be diagnosed with both at the same time, while some might only ever experience Hashimoto's and never develop hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are when your body's immune system starts attacking healthy cells. In the case of Hashimoto's, this is when you have an immune system that incorrectly identifies the thyroid gland as something foreign and attacks it, resulting in damage to your thyroid. 

Although Hashimoto's most often results in hypothyroidism, it can also cause hyperthyroidism, when your thyroid gland is overactive. However, this form of hyperthyroidism may go undetected because some of the symptoms are similar to that of people with Hashimoto's who present with hypothyroidism (such as weight gain, fatigue, lethargy, lack of concentration).  

What are the symptoms of Hashimoto's? 

Hashimoto's is usually asymptomatic for years, which makes it difficult to diagnose. One of the first signs of this disease would manifest through fatigue, which is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include weight gain, feeling cold all the time, constipation, and depression.  

With Hashimoto's, symptoms will worsen as your disease progresses, and it becomes harder to recover from them. 

People with Hashimoto's typically present with:

  • A goiter (an enlarged thyroid).
  • Decreased TSH levels.

Hashimoto's is caused by antibodies attacking the thyroid, which causes it to not produce enough hormones. The specific triggers for this attack are unknown, but there are some ideas on why this happens. Some research links Hashimoto's to genetics, exposure to viruses and environmental toxins, chronic inflammation, gut health issues, diets high in goitrogens, obesity, soy, and bacterial or viral infections. There is also a belief that Hashimoto's may be brought on by stress hormones.

Hashimoto's is important to address because left untreated, it can lead to an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing thyroxine, which is responsible for regulating your metabolism. It also affects the way you use energy, the way your body uses food for energy, how your body molds fat and sugar, as well as how your heart beats. An underactive thyroid can have long-term health effects such as weight gain, anxiety, lethargy, and depression. 

Personalized Approach to Hashimoto's

Generally, your health care provider will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. Additionally, they will check your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and your free T4 (FT4) levels. 

I believe the best way doctors can help patients is by having all the insight they can get access to. This in turn helps them create a personalized, precise, protocol unique to you. 

Some suggested blood tests include:

  • Checking levels of Thyroid peroxidase Ab, Thyroglobulin Ab, and TPO-ab. These are antibodies that are fighting against your thyroid gland.  
  • Total T4 will be reviewed to look into the levels of protein that the thyroid gland produces. 
  • Total T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone) will be checked.
  • Free T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone) will be checked.
  • Reverse T3 is reveiwed. Reverse T3 is a protein that binds to T3. When this happens, it makes T3 not available for the body to use, which will make your thyroid gland slow down production of thyroid hormone.
  • Thyroid Binding Globulin will be tested to look for levels of protein that your thyroid gland produces.  
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies are searched for. The presence of this antibody is a marker for Hashimoto’s disease.

People with Hashimotos, or autoimmune hypothyroidism, have special needs when it comes to thyroid hormone replacement therapy.  It can be difficult to find the right type of medication for you – what might work well in one person may not work at all in another patient.

Do you know what we all do have in common? Zombie cells!

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ