Thyroid problems are at an all time high.
I don’t think a week goes by without having a new patient come in who is taking some form of thyroid medication.
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, more than 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid problems… Wow, that is a lot of people! And if you look at all the symptoms that are associated with thyroid disease, there are more out there suffering that have simply not been diagnosed. 
But before we go any further, let’s get to know that little gland in the neck. The thyroid may be little, but its daily functions are a huge responsibility! It is associated with fat metabolism, temperature regulation, bone metabolism, growth hormone production, blood sugar metabolism, estrogen metabolism, bowel motility and so much more.
As a result, some of the symptoms [2, 3]that can occur if your thyroid is dysfunctioning are:
Cold hands and feet
Increased cholesterol levels
Hair Falls out easily
Excessive Sleep Yet Still Tired
As you read this list, you are probably saying to yourself, “Wow, this sounds like me, but my doctor already told me that my thyroid was normal.”
Now, the reason most doctors will say that is because they base their analysis of thyroid dysfunction on one, or, if you are lucky, two blood levels. But that is an incomplete assessment of thyroid function. Let me explain…
When the brain (via the pituitary gland) releases a hormone called TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), this hormone causes the thyroid gland to release the hormone T4 (thyroxine). Now, most doctors out there base their treatment of thyroid dysfunction off of the TSH value only… and if it is high, the diagnosis is hypothyroidism, and they will prescribe some form of medication trying to drive that value down to its assumed normal. And yet these patients will not see improvement…why? I would like to challenge that they are not treating the cause.
Let me backup a moment and explain…
The most common thyroid disorders are the underproduction of thyroid hormones, referred to as Hypothyroidism, and the overproduction of thyroid hormones, referred to as Hyperthyroidism.
Now here is their biggest mistake. The two above conditions are the most common diagnosed when it comes to thyroid, but these are actually not the most common. The most common is called Hashimotos. Now, even though the symptoms are the same, the cause is autoimmune. This means that the immune system attacks what it was made to protect.
“OK, so how do I find out the actual cause of my thyroid dysfunction?”
There is a very easy way to tell the difference, and it goes back to our motto: WE DON’T GUESS, WE TEST!
You see, there are two blood levels that can be measured to tell if the immune system is the major cause of your thyroid dysfunction. These two measurable levels are thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO antibody) and anti-thyroglobulin.
The presence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies in your blood tells us that the cause of your thyroid disease is due to an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis. We previously learned that in autoimmune disorders your immune system mistakenly attacks your normal tissue. This is mainly due to an overproduction of antibodies in that particular area. When your body attacks the thyroid gland, the result is inflammation and impaired function of the thyroid.
More specifically, the anti-thyroglobulin antibody is directed against thyroglobulin which is a key protein in the thyroid gland essential to the production of thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). So therefore, the overproduction of Anti-thyroglobulin antibodies damage the thyroid gland and affect its function.
We Don’t Guess…We Test!
Autoimmune thyroiditis is the most common form of thyroid dysfunction, yet the only way to know is by testing the antibodies – and this is where the mistake happens. No one is being properly tested! This simple test should be run each and every time a thyroid is suspected of being the problem. An example is seen below, where a young man had the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism, but after testing just his TSH and finding it was normal, the doctors said the thyroid was not involved. However, as you can see clearly from his test results, I ran the panel and he had a high amount of anti-thyroglobulin antibodies…and, therefore, his condition is actually autoimmune. LabCorp/Dynacare offers a complete thyroid panel with antibodies. (Click on test image below for a larger preview)
In conclusion, whenever you suspect that your thyroid is a problem, find the right doctor out there that will investigate and discover what is actually causing your issues. Make sure that you get a complete thyroid test that covers all the values needed in order to see the whole picture. Remember – our bodies are designed to work as one whole, complete unit. Addressing only one small piece without looking at how it affects the rest of the body is why so many people are currently sick and keep on getting sicker.
- Bjoro, T., et al., Prevalence of thyroid disease, thyroid dysfunction and thyroid peroxidase antibodies in a large, unselected population. The Health Study of Nord-Trondelag (HUNT). Eur J Endocrinol, 2000. 143(5): p. 639-47.
- Taylor, L.J., Think thyroid. Connecting an assortment of symptoms leads to a hypothyroidism diagnosis. Adv NPs PAs, 2010. 1(3): p. 43-4.
- Kathol, R.G. and J.W. Delahunt, The relationship of anxiety and depression to symptoms of hyperthyroidism using operational criteria. Gen Hosp Psychiatry, 1986. 8(1): p. 23-8.
- Zophel, K., et al., Clinical value of a bispecific antibody binding to thyroglobulin and thyroperoxidase (TGPO-aAb) in various thyroid diseases. Autoimmunity, 1999. 29(4): p. 257-62.