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March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, which is important and relevant to many of us with hypothyroidism. This is because 90% of us with hypothyroidism also have the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. 
However, a lot of thyroid patients still do not seem to know if their hypothyroidism is of the autoimmune kind and this can play a part in the managing of their thyroid condition.
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease which causes the body to attack and destroy its own thyroid gland (a butterfly shaped organ located in the neck), causing hypothyroidism as the thyroid begins to dysfunction from the damage caused.
As time goes by, if this autoimmune disease is not well controlled, your own body continues to attack the thyroid gland which can cause your levels to become gradually worse, meaning further increases in thyroid medication dosage and worsening symptoms. It can also feel tricky to get on top of your thyroid condition for good.
You may also swing between hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms as this damage in ongoing.
How Do I Know if I Have Hashimoto’s?
To know if you have Hashimoto’s, you need two thyroid antibody tests conducted: TPOAB (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and TGAB (thyroglobulin antibodies).
Having Hashimoto’s will usually show as one or two of these test results being above range, although it is thought that as many as 10% of those with Hashimoto’s don’t show up on tests.
It is also worth knowing that you could see variations in your thyroid antibody and hormone results each time you test, with them being high one time, low the next, high the next time and so on. This is due to the ongoing destruction of your thyroid gland causing surges of thyroid hormone to be released into the blood.
Signs of Hashimoto’s Can Include:
- Symptoms that don’t go away with optimal Free T3 and T4 levels
- Brain fog
- Mood swings
- Swings in feeling hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Ongoing fatigue
- Acid reflux and gut/digestive issues
- Aches and pains
- Skin complaints
The Importance of Testing Your Thyroid Antibodies
As demonstrated through my own thyroid health journey, many thyroid patients benefit from being more involved in their thyroid care and treatment, which is where self-testing and the ability to order your own tests can be critical tools for getting your health back on track. Confirming that my hypothyroidism was caused by Hashimoto’s, and getting my Hashimoto’s controlled (and in remission) formed a big part of my recovery from thyroid disease.
Many doctors will not test or retest thyroid antibody levels, but it is worth knowing that you can order them yourself, just as I did, if they will not. It is worth asking your doctor though.
Where Can I Order Thyroid Antibody Testing From?
A popular place you can order some more in-depth thyroid testing is LetsGetChecked, who offer countless tests. You can easily order complete Hashimoto’s testing from them in the comfort of your own home.
With it being Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, it is crucial that we raise awareness about how important testing these antibodies and knowing if you have Hashimoto’s, is.
What Difference Does It Make If You Do Have Hashimoto’s?
Having Hashimoto’s means that you we should ideally be looking at calming down the disease and lowering those high thyroid antibody levels. By doing so, the attack against your thyroid is slowed down or even halted, meaning that symptoms disappear and recovery can begin.
Read about how I got my Hashimoto’s in to remission here.
Finding out if I had Hashimoto’s has been a huge part of treating and managing my thyroid condition and thyroid health, as certain things that have helped get the Hashimoto’s under control and in remission, have made the biggest overall improvements in my health that let me lead me back to a very good quality of life.
In the past year, I have been able to recover my health hugely thanks to getting Hashimoto’s in to remission and have even had a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Things that have helped to get my Hashimoto’s well-controlled include: changing thyroid medication, going gluten-free, working on my gut health, sex hormone imbalances, altering my diet and looking at blood sugar, epsom salt baths, certain supplements, raising low vitamin levels and more. Read about it in more detail here.
The Big Thyroid Jigsaw Puzzle
I always describe treating and managing thyroid disease as being like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each person will have different pieces to slot in to place before they can obtain good or even great health again, but we have to work to find out what these are for each of us. Learning if we have Hashimoto’s can really affect this.
We all need to embrace being our own thyroid health advocate. You can find my book on how I did this too, here.
It is essential reading if you need some clear, simple guidance on your Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism.
Another important part of this awareness month is using it to raise awareness of the health condition to those who do not have it. Please see a list of articles you may wish to share with those around you, below.
- What is hypothyroidism?
- What’s Hashimoto’s?
- How do you treat Hashimoto’s?
- Can you cure Hashimoto’s?
- What supplements should I consider taking?
- Any support groups I can join?
- Should I avoid any foods?
- Why is gluten ‘bad’ for so many thyroid patients?
- Will I ever feel ‘normal’ again?
There is also the book You, Me and Hypothyroidism, which is useful for the friends and family of those with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. It educates those around us on our thyroid condition and helps them to understand how to support us. You, Me and Hypothyroidism can be found on Amazon.
What do you wish people knew about living with Hashimoto’s? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.