Hashimotos and Preventative Treatment

Hi. I have recently been diagnosed with Hashimotos after pushing for thyroid investigation for years. Over the past few years I have gone from a dress size 8 to a 16 with no change to my diet or lifestyle. I have all the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism including: steady increasing weight gain, extremely heavy periods, dry skin, badly ridged nails, thinning eyebrows, depression, anxiety etc. My TSH levels are dropping and my Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies are currently at 55.0 (0.0-0.6) is the nornal range. My doctor is reluctant to start me on Levothyroxine because my TSH is within the "normal" range but I have a horrible feeling that damage is being done to my thyroid and it will stop producing TSH altogether if left untreated. Has anyone undergone preventative treatment? Do you think Levothyroxine would help with my symptoms and help me lose weight? Thanks, Aimee.

4 Replies

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  • Aimee, can you post your recent thyroid results to help members comment? TSH usually rises when one is becoming hypothyroid to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormone. It drops when sufficient thyroid hormone is detected. Levothyroxine is prescribed when thyroid hormone is low.

    TPO antibodies means you have autoimmune thyroid disease which can lead to overt hypothyroidism. Your levels are quite low though and it may be possible to reduce them by trying a gluten-free diet.

  • Aimeek, the thyroid doesn't produce TSH, the pituitary does. It produces TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to tell the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone.

    The thyroid makes T4 and T3. T4 is the storage hormone that is converted into T3. These are the ones that should be tested to find out your thyroid status. Low T3 means that you are hypo. High T3 means you are hyper. If you are hypo, you need to take thyroid hormone replacement (Levothyroxin T4, usually).

    Usually, when the TSH is high, the FT4 and FT3 are low, and vice versa. But this is not always the case. Which is why they should all be tested and not just the TSH.

    The anti-bodies are produced by your immune system because it mistakes your thyroid hormones for the enemy (it's a bit more complicated than that, but we'll keep it simple for now). They slowly destroy the gland. But from time to time, a bit of gland breaks away, full of hormone, and dumps that hormone into the blood. That makes the TSH level vary, and is therefore not a very good indicator of thyroid status.

    You are right. If left untreated, damage will be done to your gland. And it has been proved that starting Levo (T4) can reduce the antibody attacks and make the patient feel better. But doctors don't know that. But, as Clutter said, your antibodies are only low at the moment, and might be controlled by going gluten-free. It's Worth trying.

    Auto-immune hypothyroidism shouldn't just be treated by blood tests (and certainly not by the TSH!) Symptoms should also be taken into consideration. You are showing a lot of hypo symptoms, it's true. But some of them could be due to nutritional deficiencies - the ridged nails and heavy periods could be due to low ferritin, the dry skin and depression due to low B12 - not saying they are, but could be. Hypos are often low in vitamins and minerals. So, what you should do now, is get ferritin, iron, folate, vit D and vit B12 tested - all should be at least mid-range, B12 even higher - and supplement where needed. You might be surprised at the difference that makes to your well-being.

    As I said, doctors don't know they should be treating when antibodies are present even if thyroid hormones are 'in range', and are reluctant to treat until TSH reaches 10, sometimes. But next time you have a thyroid test, insist that he does the FT4 and FT3 as well. Although the lab might not be willing to do them, you can but ask! These may be low even though the TSH is low.

    Hugs, Grey

  • Hi Greygoose and Clutter,

    Thank you both very much for your replies. It is some comfort knowing that there are people here that I can talk to who understand the thyroid. Here are my latest results from the lab:

    Thyroid Perox. = 55.0

    TSH = 1.50 (previous readings: in 2014 was 2.28, and in 2013 it was 3.28)???? *Why did they start off quite high and are now dropping? Could this signify that damage has already been done to my thyroid gland?*

    Free T4 = 12.6

    I have never had my T3 tested and the doctor has asked me to go back to get a blood test in a few weeks to check it. I take multivitamins and a low dose of sea kelp daily and I eat pretty healthily so I doubt that I am deficient in anything....my last vitamin levels came back normal. I don't have a high gluten diet and because I suffer from terrible constipation/irritable bowel I only eat healthier wholegrain pasta and cereals. I have put on a stone in the past year. About 3-4 years ago I weighed 10stone (I'm 5' 5") and now I'm nearing 14stone. That's roughly a stone a year and it's going up and up.

    I am currently in lying in bed feeling absolutely exhausted because I have the heaviest period imaginable, I've also got deep aches and pains in my legs, elbows and wrists. I really am fed up. I've literally got no energy or get up and go most of the time. I work as a freelance textile designer and it's so hard to find the energy or to motivate myself to get up and do anything about 50% of the time :-(

    I look at photos of myself a few years ago and look at myself in the mirror now and it is a completely different person looking back at me. I look really overweight, puffy, ill and exhausted.

    There is hypothyroidism on both sides of my family and Lupus on my dad's side too so I might need to get tested for that too.

    Do you recommend any other things for my doctor to test for/check?

    Thanks,

    Aimee

  • OK, let's talk about those vitamins. Do you have the results of those tests? Because 'normal' is a programme on a washing machine, not a diagnosis! If they aren't all at least mid-range then they are too low - just being 'in range' is not good enough. B12 should be at least 600, preferably more.

    You're taking a multivitamin, ok, but if you have an actual deficiency, there's not enough of anything in a multivitamin to make any difference. What exactly is in there? And how much? And, come to that, what exactly were you tested for?

    You're taking sea kelp... Are you iodine deficient? Did you get tested for it? If not, taking extra iodine can do more harm than good. Excess iodine is as bad as not enough.

    Your aches and pains sound like you are vit D deficient. The terrible period sounds like iron deficiency. The constipation could be magnesium deficiency.

    Your TSH is going up and down because of the antibodies. (Another thing doctors don't know about!) Does it mean damage has already been done to your gland? I don't know if there's a direct correlation between damage and TSH, but your gland is bound to have been damaged to a certain extent. Which is why your TSH should be suppressed.

    The most important thing to get tested for is TSH - although doing those vits and mins again wouldn't hurt. I could think of a dozen things to ask for if tests were free! But we have to be realistic and stick to the basics for the time being. Get those FT4 and FT3 results and then we can see if you're converting.

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