An autoimmune thyroid disease is very common. Statistically, more women than men are affected. While the typical age of sufferers is between forty and sixty years old, you can develop this disease at any age. An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system responds by attacking tissues that are normal parts of your body. When your immune system attacks your thyroid we call this autoimmune thyroid disease. The two most common are Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. When this happens, there are several symptoms that you may exhibit:
- Weight Gain or Loss
- Aches and Pain
- Excessive Sweating
- Hair Loss
- Dry Skin
- Heart Palpitations
Thyroid disease can cause or contribute to issues including
- Infertility for both men and women
- Digestive problems
- Having children with low birth weight
- Inability to concentrate
- Heart disease and high blood pressure
How Do You Test for an Autoimmune Disease?
There are three important blood tests that are used to diagnosis thyroid autoimmune disease. These tests are meant to determine how severe the disease is, what type of thyroid disease you have, and your course of treatment.
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody (TPO) Blood Test
The thyroid peroxidase is an enzyme within the thyroid that aids in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to T3. This blood test is taken to find if there are antibodies present in your body which are negatively affecting the thyroid peroxidase enzyme. The presence of these antibodies shows that there is a problem with the normal functioning of your thyroid.
Thyroglobulin Antibody (TG) Blood Test
Thyroidglobulin is a protein used by the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. This test is most often used to determine if a tumor is present within your thyroid. When there are elevated levels of thyroglobulin antibodies your TG proteins are at risk of attack. Everyone with a thyroid will have some level of TG within their blood, yet there is an average level that the thyroid needs to maintain in order to function normally.
Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin (TSI) Blood Test
The TSI test measures the thyroid antibodies that are present in your blood and is usually used to determine if you have Graves’ disease. However, when these antibodies are not present it does not rule out Graves’ disease. Though it is less common, TSI can be present in your body if you have Hashimoto’s.
What Role Does Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Play?
The TSH blood test is the most common test used to diagnose a thyroid imbalance. It is important to note that your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) can be normal, while the antibodies are not. If you have a normal level of TS hormone, you may still have antibodies that are affecting the way in which the thyroid is working, this is why antibody tests should be ordered when you show any sign of having thyroid problems.
Effectively Treating Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and acupuncture are effective in treating thyroid disease. These are non-invasive treatment methods that have shown remarkable results in patients diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. With the use of Acupuncture there are several points on your body related to the functioning of your thyroid. These points can help you sleep better, regain energy and help with your overall hormone balance. The goal is to encourage your thyroid to work on its own without the use of medication.
TCM utilizes several herbs and dietary guidelines in conjunction with acupuncture. TCM views the body from a Yin-Yang philosophy, meaning that all parts of your body have to be in tune with one another in order for you to feel great. Dietary changes may include eating foods that are easier to digest and higher in nutrient value such as steamed, dark leafy green vegetables. TCM herbs are prescribed according to your specific imbalance. There are many Chinese herbs that can be utilized to help correct your thyroid imbalance.
To learn more about the use of TCM and acupuncture for thyroid disease please visit this page www.bodahealth.ca/thyroid-disease
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.