Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (2023)

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (1)

Do you constantly feel sluggish, drained, or worn down?

Or maybe you’ve triedintense diet and workout plans to lose weight,but the scale won’t move.

Is a hidden autoimmune issue to blame?

Hypothyroidism affects nearly 20 million Americans, causing weight gain, irritability, and chronic lethargy – and as many as 60 percent of people who have it don’t even know it (1).

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding hypothyroidism and many people don’t understand what it means.

What is hypothyroidism? Is hypothyroidism an autoimmune disease? And how can it be treated?

Let’s dig in.

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease?

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (2)

The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the neck, is responsible for producing thyroid hormones that keep our body running smoothly.

(Video) Do Raw Cruciferous Vegetables Harm the Thyroid?

Thyroid hormone is responsible for increasing cellular activity throughout our entire body. It also regulates critical bodily functions, including our heart rate, breathing, menstrual cycles, body temperature, weight, and metabolism (2).

It does all of this by using the iodine in the foods we eat to produce two key hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

Hypothyroidism is the term used to describe a thyroid gland that is underactive and unable to produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs.

An inadequate supply of thyroid hormones can produce many undesirable symptoms, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Dry skin
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (3)

TheCauses of Hypothyroidism

There are many causes of hypothyroidism, and it can be present from birth or appear spontaneously later on in life.

Having part of your thyroid gland removed surgically or destroyed due to radiation treatment can spur the development of hypothyroidism.

Thyroiditis, inflammation of the thyroid gland, can also affect thyroid activity, as can damage to the pituitary gland or an inadequate dietary intake of iodine.

Also, some individuals are born with only a partial thyroid gland or without any thyroid gland at all. This is more common than you would think, affecting up to 1 in 3,000 to 4,000 births worldwide (3).

But one of the most common types of hypothyroidism is autoimmune hypothyroidism, also known as Hashimoto’s disease.

What is an Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system misinterprets your own healthy cells as foreign cells and attacks them.

Rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and lupus are all common types of autoimmune disease.

When it comes to autoimmune thyroid disorder, the body perceives the thyroid gland and its hormones as invaders, prompting the immune system to create antibodies that target, attack, and deteriorate thyroid function.

(Video) #AskYuri: How to Heal Hashimoto's Naturally

This causes a decline in thyroid function – or hypothyroidism – along with all the accompanying symptoms.

Anyone can become hypothyroid, but most at risk are women over the age of 60, people with a family history of autoimmune hypothyroidism, and those already affected by another autoimmune disease.

Left untreated, autoimmune hypothyroidism can lead to many complications (4). A few of the most common complications include:

  1. Goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland, can develop due to overstimulation of the thyroid gland
  2. Mental health issues, such as depression or decreased libido, are also commonly associated with autoimmune hypothyroidism
  3. Heart conditions are more likely to be present, due to the fact that an increase in LDL cholesterol is commonly experienced in those with hypothyroidism
  4. Birth defects may occur in babies born to women with untreated hypothyroidism
  5. Myxedema, a rare but life-threatening condition, can occur as a result of long-term untreated hypothyroidism

Autoimmune Hypothyroidism Treatment Options

Autoimmune hypothyroidism is a serious condition, but it is possible to treat and alleviate the side effects that accompany it.

First, you should always consult with your doctor, especially if you’ve been recently diagnosed with autoimmune hypothyroidism. They will often prescribe medications that can help treat hypothyroidism.

One of the most common prescribed treatments for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement, which works by bringing your hormone levels to a normal level.

The biggest downfall using thyroid hormone replacementis that it requires close monitoring of thyroid levels and symptoms can persist – or even get worse – if you take too much or too little.

There are also natural remedies that help you maintain optimal thyroid function and keep symptoms under control.

Here are six easy ways to help you get started on the track to a healthy thyroid:

1. Go Gluten-Free

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (4)

Gluten has been closely linked to thyroid function because it has a similar protein structure to thyroid tissue. As a result,frequent consumption of gluten can cause your immune system to start attacking your thyroid.

This is why I advocate a gluten-free diet, especially if you have autoimmune thyroid disease.

Ditch the bread, pasta, and cereal and opt for gluten-free substitutes instead. There are plenty of gluten-free grains that you can incorporate in your diet to help you make the switch.

(Video) Dr. Izabella Wentz on healing your thyroid and losing weight | Fat Loss Summit

All the recipes I post on the blog are gluten-free, so check them out if you need some inspiration.

2. Minimize Processed Foods

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (5)

A good diet is key to good health, regardless of whether or not you have autoimmune hypothyroidism. With autoimmune disease, however, diet becomes especially important in healing a leaky gut and promoting proper digestion.

Our digestive system is full of tiny pores that allow nutrients to travel intoour body.

But when we load up on gut-irritatingprocessed and junk food, the pores get wider and actually let food particles pass into the bloodstream. That causes ourimmune system to kick into action, sending outantibodies to fight off the foreign substances.

Over time and with repeated exposure, the immune system becomes overactive, setting the stage for the development of allergies and autoimmune disease.

A whole-foods-baseddiet rich in fruits and vegetables – with minimal amounts of processed foods and refined sugars – is crucial to stopping this cycle and allowing your gut to heal.

3. Cut OutDairy

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (6)

Much like gluten, dairy can irritate to the digestive system and can also be hardto digest. That’s why consumingtoo much dairy can cause inflammation and trigger an immune response, taking things from bad to worse for those if you have an autoimmune disease.

Making the switch to dairy-free is pretty easy. Almond milk, hemp milk, and coconut milk are just a few healthy milk alternatives that can help ease your transition into eliminating dairy from your diet.

4. Add Anti-Inflammatory Foods to your Diet

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (7)

In addition to following a plant-based, whole foods diet, your diet should also include anti-inflammatory ingredients.

  • Make sure your diet is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and fish oil.
  • Anti-inflammatory spices, like turmeric, are also an excellent dietary addition.
  • Ginger is another powerful inflammatory-fighting agent that can help support a healthy immune system. Add some to your tea or grate it over a hot bowl of soup for a beneficial boost.

These foods all have inflammation-busting properties that will keep your immune system in tip-top shape, allowing your thyroid to perform at its best.

(Video) Yuri Elkaim of HealthPreneurGroup.com on InspiredInsider with Dr. Jeremy Weisz

5. Increase Iodine and Selenium Intake

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (8)

Iodine and selenium are two of the most important minerals to maintaining good thyroid function. Without enough of either, the thyroid is unable to produce enough of the hormones that our body needs.

Iodine can be found in seaweed – such as kelp – and alsoeggs. Cranberries, navy beans, and potatoes are all other great ways to incorporate more iodine into the diet.

Selenium-rich foods include fish (like tuna, shrimp, and sardines) and meat, including turkey, chicken, and beef. Brazil nuts also are an excellent source of selenium and only a small amount is required to meet your daily needs.

Most adults need 150 mcg of iodine and 55 mcg of selenium per day, which is definitely doable with just a few servings of iodine- and selenium-rich foods per day. Meeting your daily requirement is key to boosting thyroid function.

6. Consider Supplementation

Is Hypothyroidism an Autoimmune Disease? Here's the Truth | Yuri Elkaim (9)

If you have dietary restrictions, it can be challenging to get enough iodine and selenium in the diet. Supplementing with these minerals might be a good idea if that’s the case for you.

Many supplements specifically targeted for thyroid function only include either selenium or iodine, but rarely both. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help with fixing the problem.That’s whyI recommend supplementing with both iodine and selenium for maximum effectiveness.

Healthy Lifestyle to Boost Thyroid Function

Hypothyroidism can be a challenging disease to treat and anyone who has suffered from the condition can attest to the many trials and tribulations that it presents.

No need to fear, though. A healthy lifestyle complemented by a few natural thyroid-enhancing remedies can make it easier than ever to help promote hormone production and alleviate the symptoms that are accompanied by an underactive thyroid gland.

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(Video) Do Thyroid Foods Affect Your Metabolism

FAQs

Is being hypothyroid an autoimmune disease? ›

It is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your body makes antibodies that attack the cells in your thyroid. Symptoms may include an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), tiredness, weight gain, and muscle weakness. You don't need treatment if your thyroid hormone levels are normal.

What is the auto immune disease called for hypothyroidism? ›

Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder that can cause hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Rarely, the disease can cause hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. Thyroid hormones control how your body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body—even the way your heart beats.

Is hypothyroidism an inflammatory disease? ›

Subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with a low grade inflammation, increased triglyceride levels and predicts cardiovascular disease in males below 50 years.

Does hypothyroidism mean you are immunocompromised? ›

Many people are asking whether having autoimmune thyroid disease means you are immunocompromised. We can confirm it does not. The part of the immune system that's responsible for autoimmune thyroid conditions is separate to the immune system that's responsible for fighting off viral infections, such as Covid-19.

Is hypothyroidism a disability? ›

Hypothyroidism and Social Security

You can suffer from a variety of thyroid gland disorders, and many of them can have a major negative impact on your life. If a thyroid disorder has rendered you disabled to work, you could be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

How did I get hypothyroidism? ›

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Autoimmune disorders occur when your immune system produces antibodies that attack your own tissues. Sometimes this process involves your thyroid gland.

What is a dangerously low TSH level? ›

Ultimately, the standard of care is to treat into the goal range for TSH, which is typically between 0.5 and 4.5 or 5. A TSH level of 10 mIU/L or higher is typically indicative of hypothyroidism. A TSH level of 4.5 to 10 mIU/L is considered indicative of subclinical hypothyroidism.

Can autoimmune hypothyroidism be cured? ›

There is no cure for Hashimoto's, but replacing hormones with medication can regulate hormone levels and restore your normal metabolism. The pills are available in several different strengths. The exact dose your doctor prescribes will depend on a number of factors, including: Age.

What emotional problems does hypothyroidism cause? ›

Yes, thyroid disease can affect your mood — primarily causing either anxiety or depression. Generally, the more severe the thyroid disease, the more severe the mood changes.
...
If you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), you may experience:
  • Unusual nervousness.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.

What is the most common inflammatory disease of the thyroid? ›

Hashimoto's thyroiditis: This autoimmune condition, also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is caused by antithyroid antibodies. It's the most common form of thyroiditis and the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Does levothyroxine reduce inflammation? ›

The main finding of this open label study was that patients with hypothyroidism using levothyroxine presented significant changes in the inflammatory profile, with reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase of one anti-inflammatory cytokine.

Does hypothyroidism cause anxiety? ›

The Thyroid/Energy Link

And although hypothyroidism is commonly associated with depression, it can also cause anxiety. The thyroid hormone is pivotal to the creation and regulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, and mood.

Can you get the Covid vaccine if you have Hashimoto's? ›

Patients with autoimmune diseases, with adequate therapy from their chosen doctor, can receive the vaccine against COVID-19. Having this information in mind, we can conclude that all citizens, even those with autoimmune diseases, should consult with their chosen doctors before receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

Is hypothyroidism inherited? ›

Genetic causes account for about 15 to 20 percent of cases of congenital hypothyroidism. The cause of the most common type of congenital hypothyroidism, thyroid dysgenesis, is usually unknown. Studies suggest that 2 to 5 percent of cases are inherited.

Can you get Social Security disability for hypothyroidism? ›

Social Security does not have a specific disability listing for hypothyroidism. Instead, the agency will evaluate your medical condition under the complications caused by your hypothyroidism and your resulting functional limitations.

How much disability do you get for thyroid? ›

Upon an initial diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, VA assigns veterans a 30 percent disability rating for a period of six months. After six months, veterans are reevaluated and rated based on the residual symptoms of the disease or complications of medical treatment.

Can you drink alcohol with hypothyroidism? ›

Alcoholism and hypothyroidism are an especially bad combination. Hypothyroidism causes various processes in the body to slow down, and alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows them down even more.

What organs are affected by hypothyroidism? ›

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, is when the thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body's needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck.

What is the number one symptom of hypothyroidism? ›

Hypothyroidism is a common condition where the thyroid doesn't create and release enough thyroid hormone into your bloodstream. This makes your metabolism slow down. Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism can make you feel tired, gain weight and be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.

How does hypothyroidism affect the brain? ›

In the developing brain, hypothyroidism impairs the generation of interneurons including reduced proliferation and delayed differentiation of precursor cells in the cerebellum and their migration to the cerebellar cortex (238). These effects could be antagonized by administration of T3 binding to the TRα1.

What is the drug of choice for hypothyroidism? ›

Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levo-T, Synthroid, others). This oral medication restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

What is normal TSH level in elderly? ›

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) suggests raising the target serum TSH to 4-6 mIU/L in people age 70 to 80 years.

Can you be hospitalized for hypothyroidism? ›

The severe hypothyroid crisis is then caused by an infection, illness, exposure to cold, or certain medicines (opiates are a common cause) in people with severe hypothyroidism. Myxedema crisis is a medical emergency that must be treated in the hospital.

Can hypothyroidism go away without medication? ›

ANSWER: For mild cases of hypothyroidism, not all patients need treatment. Occasionally, the condition may resolve without treatment. Follow-up appointments are important to monitor hypothyroidism over time, however. If hypothyroidism doesn't go away on its own within several months, then treatment is necessary.

Can you reverse hypothyroidism with diet? ›

D. Generally, there's no hypothyroidism diet. Although claims about hypothyroidism diets abound, there's no evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism. However, adequate dietary iodine is essential for normal thyroid function.

What helps reduce thyroid inflammation? ›

Treatment is usually bed rest and aspirin to reduce inflammation of a sore thyroid. Occasionally cortisone (steroids, which reduce inflammation) and thyroid hormone (to "rest" the thyroid gland) may be used in prolonged cases.

Can hypothyroidism affect your heart? ›

Hypothyroidism can result in decreased cardiac output, increased systemic vascular resistance, decreased arterial compliance, and atherosclerosis. Impaired cardiac muscle relaxation, decreased heart rate, and decreased stroke volume contribute to heart failure in hypothyroidism.

Does hypothyroidism cause anger? ›

Patients suffering from hypothyroidism often report the occurrence of emotional distress (ED), typically in the form of depression, anxiety and anger (10, 11). Boswell et al. (12) showed that depression occurs in nearly 50% of cases of hypothyroidism.

Is forgetfulness a symptom of thyroid? ›

Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than your body needs. Some people with hyperthyroidism, such as Graves' disease, commonly experience poor concentration, slower reaction times, decreased spatial organization, and memory lapses.

What happens if you ignore hypothyroidism? ›

The condition can be managed with medication. If left untreated, though, hypothyroidism can lead to many complications. These include heart problems, nerve injury, infertility and in severe cases, death.

Does caffeine affect thyroid gland? ›

Research suggests that caffeine can temporarily increase metabolism by increasing fat utilization. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolic processes in the body. Because caffeine can increase the body's metabolism, your thyroid gland may become taxed in regulating your system when caffeine is present.

Is aspirin good for hypothyroidism? ›

Patients should avoid high-dose aspirin because it can increase free thyroid hormone levels by displacing thyroid hormone from its protein-binding sites.

Can levothyroxine cause liver problems? ›

When given in high doses, thyroid hormone preparations can cause mild serum enzyme elevations. In addition, standard doses of levothyroxine have been linked to rare instances of mild, immunoallergic liver injury.

Do probiotics affect thyroid? ›

Probiotics have shown beneficial effects in thyroid diseases and are able to have a positive effect on trace elements such as selenium, zinc, and copper.

Is hypothyroidism a serious disease? ›

Hypothyroidism can become a serious and life-threatening medical condition if you do not get treatment from a healthcare provider. If you are not treated, your symptoms can become more severe and can include: Developing mental health problems. Having trouble breathing.

Is hypothyroidism a disease or disorder? ›

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism may be due to a number of factors, including: Autoimmune disease. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

What is the main reason for hypothyroidism? ›

Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. With this disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid. The thyroid becomes inflamed and can't make enough thyroid hormones.

Is hypothyroidism a permanent condition? ›

An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid gland creates less than the normal amount of thyroid hormone. The result is the “slowing down” of many bodily functions. Hypothyroidism usually is a permanent condition that can be treated.

Does hypothyroidism make you look older? ›

If your thyroid gland is under active, this usually causes your skin to become dry. Fine lines and wrinkles appear earlier and are more noticeable. It is well known that an under active thyroid gland will age you more rapidly.

How long can you live with hypothyroidism? ›

Some studies link hypothyroidism to increased longevity

Furthermore, the study suggests that people with low thyroid function may live up to 3.1 years longer without cardiovascular disease than people with high/normal thyroid function.

What happens if you don't treat hypothyroidism? ›

If left untreated, though, hypothyroidism can lead to many complications. These include heart problems, nerve injury, infertility and in severe cases, death.

What is the number one symptom of hypothyroidism? ›

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid, is a common disorder. It can cause a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain and feeling cold. It can also result in problems with your hair, skin, muscles, memory or mood.

Can hypothyroidism go away without medication? ›

ANSWER: For mild cases of hypothyroidism, not all patients need treatment. Occasionally, the condition may resolve without treatment. Follow-up appointments are important to monitor hypothyroidism over time, however. If hypothyroidism doesn't go away on its own within several months, then treatment is necessary.

Does stress cause hypothyroidism? ›

Cortisol, the main hormone produced in response to stress, can suppress pituitary function and keep the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from being released, thereby inducing hypothyroidism, according to Dr. Wasser.

What foods to avoid if you have hypothyroidism? ›

What to limit or avoid
  • Iodine. Your thyroid needs iodine to make its hormones. ...
  • Soy. Soy-based foods like tofu and soybean flour are high in protein, low in fat, and rich in nutrients. ...
  • Fiber. ...
  • Cruciferous vegetables. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Iron and calcium.

What are 3 symptoms of hypothyroidism? ›

Common symptoms include:
  • tiredness.
  • being sensitive to cold.
  • weight gain.
  • constipation.
  • depression.
  • slow movements and thoughts.
  • muscle aches and weakness.
  • muscle cramps.

What is the best medicine for hypothyroidism? ›

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is usually treated by taking daily hormone replacement tablets called levothyroxine. Levothyroxine replaces the thyroxine hormone, which your thyroid does not make enough of. You'll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached.

Is there a shot for hypothyroidism? ›

Levothyroxine injection is used to treat myxedema coma (severe hypothyroidism), a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The powder form of levothyroxine injection can be used as a substitute for the oral dose when a rapid effect is needed and when the oral route is not allowed.

Why was levothyroxine taken off the market? ›

Westminster Pharmaceuticals, LLC. Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Levothyroxine and Liothyronine (Thyroid Tablets, USP) Due to Risk of Adulteration | FDA.

Can you reverse hypothyroidism with diet? ›

D. Generally, there's no hypothyroidism diet. Although claims about hypothyroidism diets abound, there's no evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism. However, adequate dietary iodine is essential for normal thyroid function.

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