Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an Autoimmune Disease
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease and a common cause of hypothyroidism. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the body mounts an immune reaction against its own thyroid gland tissue, leading to inflammation of the gland. During this disease Thyroid Gland is unoperational or performs suboptimally and is characterized by low levels of Thyroid Harmones T3, T4 and increased levels of TSH. Such a state is called hypothyroidism (having too low levels of thyroid hormones) in India and world over. This condition is named Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, after Dr. Hakaru Hashimoto, the doctor who described it in 1912.
Physiological Function of Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls the body’s sensitivity to other hormones. It participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, the principal ones being thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which is more active. These hormones regulate the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. T3 and T4 are synthesized from iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid also produces calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.
Hormonal output from the thyroid is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the anterior pituitary, which itself is regulated by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) produced by the hypothalamus.
Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, is a condition caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland. During this condition body attacks Thyroid Gland as if it is a unidentified or foreign tissue. Such a response of human body against its own tissue arise from an abnormal immune response of the Immune system. In the proper functioning Immune system , it must detect a wide variety of substances (both internal and external) appropriately. What it means is that Immune system must be able to distinguish pathogens, viruses, parasitic worms from its own healthy tissue. When Immune system is not able to distinguish its own healthy tissues from external substances and starts actions against them such a condition is called autoimmunity.
The real causes of autoimmune diseases are not very well known. However Blood drawn from patients suffering from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis demonstrates high levels of Thyroid antibodies and TSH. On the basis of these observations following theories are most widely accepted as a cause of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:
Theory 1: Thyroid cell damage by Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)
During conversion of thyroxine (T4) to bioactive (T3), Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 is needed as a normal step in thyroid hormone production, which is produced by Thyroid itself. However when there is excess of H202, it can damage the thyroid cell. This damaged cell material is then recognized by the immune system as foreign, leading to Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease.(3)
Theory 2: Gluten Intolerance and Leaky Gut
People with Gluten Intolerance or allergy may have Leaky Gut, with leakage of bacterial antigens into the blood stream. Via a mechanism called molecular mimicry, the immune system then attacks the thyroid gland, explaining the underlying causation of autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimotos, and Graves disease. In addition, there is a high correlation between Hashimoto’s thyroidits and Celiac Disease, an autoimmune diease caused by wheat gluten consumption. Obviously, elimination of wheat gluten from the diet is necessary and in many cases, curative, for the autoimmune thyroid patient.
Assessment of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Condition
Regular Blood test for Thyroid with Antibody profile illustrates the following results among people suffering from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:
- Lower level of T3 & T4 or FT3 and FT4
- Increased levels of TSH
- Increased levels of AntiTPO (Antibody Thyroid PerOxidase)
- Increased levels of AntiTG (Antibody Thyroglobulin)
Elevated levels of AntiTPO illustrated the inflammation of Thyroid gland and Increased levels of AntiTG indicates inflammation of Thyroid harmone storage Thyroglobulin. The thyroid gland may become firm, large, and lobulated in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but changes in the thyroid can also be nonpalpable. Enlargement of the thyroid is due to lymphocytic infiltration and fibrosis rather than tissue hypertrophy. Physiologically, antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO) (also called TPOAb) and/or thyroglobulin cause gradual destruction of follicles in the thyroid gland. Accordingly, the disease can be detected clinically by looking for these antibodies in the blood.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Some common symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are:
- Dry and thinning hair
- Feeling Cold
- Heavy menstrual flow or irregular periods
- Panic disorder
- Slowed heart rate
- Dry skin
- Weight Gain
Worried that you could have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? Identifying Onslaught of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease and no known causes are established for it. However on the basis of extensive research following has been established:
- Women are seven times more susceptible to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis then Men
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis commonly shows up in the middle age
- However off late it has been seen in teens and young women
- People suffering from any other autoimmune disease such as arthritis are susceptible to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- People who develop Hashimoto’s disease often have family members who have thyroid or other autoimmune diseases
- During onslaught of autoimmune thyroid disease Thyroid gland is swelled up due to inflammation
- Patient may feel tightness of the gland
- Patient may face difficulty in swallowing food (both liquid and solid)
During the early stage of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) may be elevated with increased levels of TSH and antibodies. This situation is just like Hyperthyroid (Condition when there is excess of T3 & T4) and it happens as Thyroid Harmone storage Thyroglobulin release all its T4.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Selenium Supplements
Thyroid Gland is an organ with the highest selenium content per gram of tissue. Minor amounts of selenium is required for Thyroid functioning. In patients with Hashimoto’s disease and in pregnant women with anti-TPO antibodies, selenium supplementation have been found to be effective by decreasing anti-thyroid antibody levels and improving the ultrasound structure of the thyroid gland. What this means is that Selenium status appears to have an impact on the development of thyroid pathologies due to its effect on the regulation of the production of reactive oxygen species and their metabolites.
Selenium supplementation is a prerequisite in all patients with elevated anti-thyroid antibody levels and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Iodine deficiency is a health risk and Iodine supplementation is beneficial. However, Selenium supplementation is required before giving Iodine to the Hashimoto’s patient. Selenium is inexpensive and readily available as a supplement in tablet or capsule form. The usual dosage is 200-400 mcg/day of seleno-methionine.
Why is Selenium So Important for Thyroid Function?
Selenium has an impact on 30 types of proteins, including the Glutathione Peroxidase enzyme and the Iodothyronine Deiodinases enzyme which converts Thyroxine (T4) to bioactive (T3). These proteins all need selenium as a co-factor in order to function properly. The selenoprotein, glutathione peroxidase, protects thyroid cells from damage by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) produced by the thyroid cell. H2O2 is needed as a normal step in thyroid hormone production, However, too much H202 can damage the thyroid cell. In the event of selenium deficiency, the glutathione peroxidase enzyme cannot do its job protecting the thyroid cell, and the thyroid cells are damaged by excess H2O2. This damaged cell material is then recognized by the immune system as foreign, leading to Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease.
Sources of This Article on Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Nakazawa, Donna (2008). The Autoimmune Epidemic. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 32–35. ISBN 978-0-7432-7775-4.
- Staecker, Hinrich; Thomas R. Van De Water; Van de Water, Thomas R. (2006). Otolaryngology: basic science and clinical review. Stuttgart: Thieme. ISBN 0-86577-901-5.
- Selenium, the Thyroid, and the Endocrine System http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/er.2001-0034
- Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):155-64. doi: 10.1111/cen.12066. Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Drutel A, Archambeaud F, Caron P.