Hashimoto’s Disease and TPO Antibodies
Inside: Understand how Hashimoto's disease is caused by knowing the relationship between Hashimoto's and TPO antibodies.
Hashimoto’s, also known as Chronic Autoimmune Lymphocytic Thyroiditis is a disease that damages the thyroid gland and becomes the most common cause of Hypothyroidism.
In this condition white blood cells and antibodies don’t recognize Thyroid Gland as a part of its own body and hence, mistakenly attack the cells of the thyroid, leading to Thyroid Disorder. Genetic factors may be involved to cause this condition.
People who have a Family History of autoimmune diseases like Graves’ Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Vitiligo, and Addison’s Disease are more likely to be diagnosed with Hashimoto. Also, it has been observed that seven times more women suffer from Hashimoto’s than men, especially when they are pregnant.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s are mostly similar to the symptoms of Hypothyroid i.e underactive thyroid.
These include constipation, dry/pale skin, hoarse voice, high cholesterol, depression, lower body muscle weakness, fatigue, feeling sluggish, cold intolerance, thinning hair, irregular or heavy periods and problems with fertility.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s are not visible immediately, hence it may happen that you have Hashimoto’s disease for a long time before the symptoms are developed and you can see a noticeable change in your thyroid function.
Some people who are suffering from Hashimoto’s may develop Goiter. It is an enlarged thyroid that may cause the front of your neck to become swollen. It may be tender when touched but generally does not cause any pain. Although, it may feel like your throat is always full which makes swallowing difficult.
Hashimoto’s is diagnosed when you have the symptoms of underactive thyroid. You have to go through a blood test that checks your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormones) levels. You will notice High Levels of TSH when thyroid activity is low because the body is working hard to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones.
Other blood tests may also be required to check the levels of other thyroid hormones, antibodies or cholesterol.
Generally, Hashimoto’s Patients have TPO Antibodies in their body, which is also known as Anti-thyroperoxidase. These are the most common antibodies that attack the TPO (thyroid peroxidase).
TPO is an enzyme in the thyroid gland that helps produce two important thyroid hormones which are T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine).
Iodine is the most important nutrient that TPO uses to make the T3 and T4 hormones but the presence of TPO Antibodies stops TPO from using Iodine which in turn causes scarcity of hormones and leads to the condition of Hypothyroid where the Thyroid Gland is not able to make enough Thyroid Hormones required by the body. Hence, it is known as an underactive thyroid.
TPO antibodies also cause inflammation that eventually damages the Thyroid Gland, due to which it becomes enlarged or forms nodules. Also, in pregnant women, TPO antibodies are also associated with preterm labor and other problems.
TPO Antibodies take a long time to reflect changes in your TSH Level, hence it is the reason that you get symptoms of Hashimoto’s months or years after having positive antibodies. Generally, Thyroid Antibodies Test is recommended to know the number of antibodies in your body.
Hence, treatment is required if your thyroid is not producing enough hormones. Medication including Levothyroxine is prescribed which is a synthetic hormone that replaces the missing thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). Mostly it is a lifelong medication that does not cause any side effects. Regular use of Levothyroxine brings back your hormone levels to normal and reduces the severity of your symptoms. Also, frequent tests are recommended to monitor the hormone levels and prescribe the right dose of medication.
While taking medication for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, it should be taken note that few supplements or medications make it difficult for your body to absorb Levothyroxine. Some of those supplements are Iron Supplements, Calcium Supplements, proton pump inhibitors, a treatment for acid reflux, some cholesterol medications and estrogen. Hence, an adequate difference of time should be there between these medications so that it does not have any adverse effect on your body.
Once you know that you have Hashimoto’s, proper treatment and diet should be followed to keep it in control, if left untreated, Hashimoto’s has various complications which can be serious too. Complications may include: heart problems, including heart failure, anaemia, confusion and loss of consciousness, high cholesterol, decreased libido and depression.
Hashimoto’s also causes problems during pregnancy. Hence, close monitoring of thyroid function should be required for women who are suffering from Thyroid Disorders during the complete course of pregnancy. If not treated well, it may cause heart, brain and kidney defects in newborn babies.
Therefore, keeping a close check on Hashimoto’s is important as Thyroid Function is responsible for regulating your metabolism, body temperature, muscle strength, and many other functions of the body.
So, observe what your body says and take the required tests to keep the necessary insights about your hormone levels.
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