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Understanding Thyroid Antibodies

If I am being completely honest with myself, I had not been feeling quite right, for quite some time.

I blamed being a working mum for my tiredness.  I blamed tiredness for my brain fog.  I blamed brain fog for my forgetfulness.

I felt guilty for not being more capable.  I crammed our weekends with so much activity, so I would not feel tempted to lie flat on the sofa and leave my son to entertain himself.

I really wanted to lie flat on the sofa and leave my son to entertain himself.

But I didn’t.

I kept going.  The more defeated my body felt, the more determined I was to push on through.

I blogged about my how my tolerance to late nights had changed and how I needed more sleep than ever before, but was getting so much less of it.

I visited the doctor for minor ailments – dry skin, a rash, mouth ulcers, chin acne, anxiety.  They said I was run down.

I suffered two miscarriages.   Just unlucky, they reassured me.

I had no idea that all of these symptoms were actually linked, until a blood test revealed I had thyroid antibodies, and these antibodies were wrongly attacking my thyroid gland and attempting to destroy it like it was the mortal enemy.

The thyroid gland has two main functions: the first is to control metabolism and the second function is to control growth in early life.  It is situated in the front of your neck, just below the Adams Apple and is shaped like a small butterfly.

When thyroid function is compromised by pesky antibodies trying to stop it from doing its job, it can lead to all sorts of problems.  Symptoms can include weight gain, tiredness, depression, being sensitive to the cold, dry skin and hair and muscle aches, but there are hundreds more.

Now, there is so much about the thyroid that I still don’t really understand.  My GP has been very supportive and referred me to a specialist, who I hope will be able to explain what this means for me in a way I will be able to make sense of.

What I have discovered so far, is that having these antibodies means I am more likely to develop hypothyroidism at some point.   There is some indication that this might be occurring to some extent already.  It also means I have a 60% chance of miscarriage, should I fall pregnant again.  Thyroiditis falls into the autoimmune area, so means sufferers are at a greater risk of developing other autoimmune conditions, such as Lupus or coeliacs disease.

Through my own research, I have found there is some evidence that eliminating gluten from my diet would be beneficial, as gluten can also trigger an antibody attack on the thyroid.

So, until I meet with the specialist I have cut out all gluten.  I actually do feel a lot better for it.  My head does not feel as heavy and I feel much less confused.  I have been able to stay up later in the evenings and have stopped waking at 4am, so I feel less tired.  After a bit of a blip in the first few weeks, my tolerance to alcohol has significantly improved.  I am able to drink two glasses of wine again without feeling hammered, passing out, or throwing up.

Gluten-free definitely suits me, but more importantly, a subsequent blood test after starting the diet showed that my thyroid antibody levels had decreased.

But some days, it feels as though this is yet another thing that I have to deal with.

Another thing that I am responsible for fixing.

That my body is failing me.  Again.

Then other days, I feel relieved.

I am capable; I am not mad.

It has a name.  Hashimoto’s.

It can be treated.

It is real.

*****

I found so much helpful information on Hypothyroid Mom. I also emailed the author, Dana, who was really lovely and advised me on additional tests to ask for when I met with my doctor again.

*****

I’ve reached the shortlist for a Brilliance in Blogging Award in the Family category!   Thank you so much to everyone who nominated me and has supported me so far.  If you would like to see Grenglish in the finals, please take a moment to vote here.

*****

You can follow me on Twitter @grenglishblogfind me on Facebookand on Pinterest as Grenglish

 

Photo Credit: esther** via Compfight cc

 

 

51 Comments

  1. Porfirio U. Massey says

    Dani brings up an excellent point: “Through my life with allergies that has progresivly gotten worse over the years I have learned that if you elimiate something from your diet for a LONG period of time your body can and will build a resistance to it. When that happens should you try and reintroduce it you will have problems. So my point is if you don’t have an allergy to it, or even an intolerace to it, don’t cut it out. Gluten does have it’s benefits and should not be eliminated for fear that it is the root cause of your thyroid problems.” You do make yourself intolerant to foods when you remove them from your diet. If you binge, and I’m not talking about clearing out the bread aisle here, just a burger or a couple of pieces of pizza will do it), you feel it. The kneejerk response is, ” See, I AM gluten intolerant…l ate gluten, and I feel yucky” Yep, as Dani said, you are gluten intolerant at that point…you have just made yourself intolerant. It’s not an irreversible condition by any means, but if you decide to go back to gluten, you either have to reintroduce it slowly or suffer through a few symptoms for a few days. Also, all g/f diets are not created equal. It really depends on what you replace that gluten with. If you replace a piece of whole grain bread with Mickey D’s french fries, cooked in beef tallow, you may be doing yourself more harm than good.
    Porfirio U. Massey recently posted…No last blog posts to return.My Profile

  2. oh wow. Well done on finding a diagnosis. And brilliant that something as simple (I say simple, I know it is not, but I mean non chemical or invasive) as giving up gluten is producing results already.

    Will follow your progress!

  3. Oh that sounds rubbish 🙁 At least you’ve got a quick diagnosis and it’s treatable/manageable.I know family and friends who have gluten intolerance and they find there is so many products out there now for sufferers.
    Aly recently posted…Felt Flower Hairband TutorialMy Profile

  4. I’m so glad you’ve been able to get a diagnosis – what a huge and good first step to getting it sorted out. I hope you’re feeling full of beans again very soon. Thank you for writing about it and hopefully encouraging others who have been feeling under the weather to get checked out too, because it’s so easy when you’re a parent to just keep putting that kind of thing off and writing it off as tiredness. xx
    Ruth recently posted…Eating AloneMy Profile

  5. So pleased you know what you are dealing with and how fab to fins a blog and a blogger who can talk you through it. Brilliant that you are now passing on your experience to help others too 🙂

  6. Oh! So pleased you have found out. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism when I was 12 and have been treated every since with thyroxine. My girls are clear thankfully but I did lose a baby in between Primrose and Poppy. It is SO important that if you feel like that that you get yourself to the GP to get a test. WELL DONE on sharing this! xx
    Margot recently posted…The New ArrivalMy Profile

  7. Angie mudge says

    Well done for posting. Hopefully it’ll help others. It’s important to share all the info and do our own research as the GPs seem to know so little. It’ll be great to know what the specialist says. To good health! Xx

  8. That’s great that you’ve found out what it is. One of my best friends has recently had this diagnosed too, she is also a parent and it took a long time to find out what it was, both in the French and UK health system. Here’s hoping you’re on the path to getting better.
    Franglaise Mummy recently posted…A rant at myselfMy Profile

  9. Hugs lovely. It’s good that you have a diagnosis and that you’re responding to the changes well. Hopefully you won’t need it, but I saw a fabulous team at St Mary’s when I was having early miscarriages due to anti-body-related issues (not thyroid, but they know so much there). Just let me know if you need a contact x
    Actually Mummy… recently posted…Erm, where did my Mum go?My Profile

  10. Thank you for including Hypothyroid Mom in this great article. Hashimoto’s is a very real danger in pregnancy and yet there is very little awareness around the world. I worry that there are many more babies lost to Hashimoto’s women than anyone realizes. By the way, I just voted for you for Brilliance in Blogging Award in the Family category. Best of luck!
    Dana Trentini recently posted…流産で苦しんだことがありますか?甲状腺が原因の可能性もあります。Have You Suffered a Miscarriage? Your Thyroid Could Be to BlameMy Profile

  11. Sarah says

    Hi! I’ve had trouble with my Thyroid recently and have just been diagnosed with Graves Disease, for which I am now on tablets for! I had no idea it can increase miscarriage, but does now make sense as I have suffered 3!! But I did manage to have 2 beautiful children so there is hope!! Wishing you all the best xx

    • Thank you so much, I am so sorry for the loss of your babies but reassured to know you have 2 beautiful healthy children now too

  12. So glad that you have started to take back control of your health – that you now have a diagnoses. I found myself recognising some of those symptoms in myself, or maybe that’s my paranoia – at the very least, cutting back on gluten could do me some good too – when I have eradicated things like wheat, I have felt a lot better – my mood is better and I can think far more clearly. X.

    • I have noticed the same improvements since cutting out gluten. I think whether you medically need to or not, if you generally feel better without something, then that’s good enough an indication maybe?

  13. That gluten business has a great deal to answer for in many people. Rumour has it that it is genetically engineered to prevent perishing and rodents breaking it down, but it means it’s impossible for us to break it down too. Whenever I’ve gone gluten free, I’ve fallen pregnant. *crosses fingers for you* *necks some bread down quickly!* 😉 xx
    Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer recently posted…Five Creative Ways to Display Summer Flowers.My Profile

    • I do agree with you on that Anya. I had gluten by accident a couple of weeks ago and had a terrible reaction to it – burning tongue, blisters and sores.
      Have heard a link to pregnancy too, will look into it some more 🙂

  14. I was shocked when I saw the title of your blog post this morning. I have been humming and arring about having a thyroid test for over a month now. I’ve been really tired, even fell asleep on the couch a couple of times before dinner. And really cold. And putting on weight. And my friend suggested it might be my thyroid. Either that or exhaustion after looking after all these kids all the time, so I found it very strange that you were experiencing similar problems. I’m sorry it’s another thing for you to deal with. But I am glad that at least there is something you can do about it. Good luck!
    almost bedtime recently posted…Five questions you hope your 8 year old daughter will never ask… but were put to me in the past weekMy Profile

    • Hi Almost Bedtime, I think you should definitely get your thyroid checked but remember that even if it comes back within ‘normal’ range, you could have antibodies that will give you similar symptoms. The antibodies test is not standard so you will need to ask for it – do let me know how you get on xx

  15. I also suffer from hypothyrodism, and it is so easy to blame it on being a tired and busy mummy with lack of sleep if you don’t know otherwise. I have to take thyroxine tablets daily for the rest of my life, but once you get the dose right, you will begin to feel much better. All the best with the meeting with your specialist!
    MishMashMamma recently posted…It’s a beautiful dayMy Profile

    • Thank you for your comment. I do wonder how many other people suffer from undetected hypothyroidism and just assume they are a tired and busy mum

  16. My sister suffers with Graves Disease and another thyroid syndrome, it is horrific for and she may have to undergo radioactive treatment because the drugs aren’t managing which would mean being staying separate to her daughter and husband for some time. I hope you get yours managed and pleased to hear diet improving – I will mention to her in case similar helps xxx
    Emily recently posted…Disney’s Chimpanzee in Cinemas today..!My Profile

    • Oh no, that is awful! Your poor sister. Diet has definitely helped relieve a few of my symptoms, although not all of them 🙂

  17. 7. And some thyroid advice: “Look in the mirror and ask (your sick thyroid), ‘how can I love you back to life’?” As soon as she said this, I didn’t understand, but I certainly felt, it to make sense. Thyroid problems she said, after she sat quietly in thought for a bit, are all about creativity being blocked. She then explained that many women feel torn up by the pressure to be all things. And their creative self gets blocked.
    Jules D. Zimmerman recently posted…No last blog posts to return.My Profile

    • This comment is not as crazy as it might first appear! I can’t rave enough about how much better I feel since I joined a regular choral society last year and I subsequently heard / read somewhere that singing has a beneficial effect on the thyroid due to the vibrations (the gland sits just behind our voice box in our throats).
      Mayfair Mum recently posted…Je Suis Charlie.My Profile

  18. So what, you ask? What is significant about these items, I discovered this week, is the goitrogenic effect of all of them and that blew my mind. Something as good as alpha lipoic acid could be bad? Resveratrol, the king of antioxidants, having an adverse effect? DIM, Green Drinks, what next? Broccoli, broccoli which is so good for you that everyone hates it with the exception of me. My green drink was full of dehydrated raw cruciferous vegetable and root juices including broccoli, kale, cabbage, maca and spinach (and many acceptable things which is why I was drinking it). These are all goitrogens and goitrogens interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3 and thus interfere with the function of your thyroid gland. I was slowly killing my thyroid. Well I hope I was only slowly killing it and that I haven’t done any permanent damage.
    Paula Gaines recently posted…No last blog posts to return.My Profile

  19. Carlene Guntert says

    The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism.’`..-

    My own website <http://www.healthmedicine.co/

  20. Maria says

    I have had a similar diagnosis and when I goggled I got your blog which I could really relate too. One thing I wanted to ask was about your second antibody test saying they had dropped.When I asked my GP she said oh we don’t test them again as they will never change.Did you see a specialist? Was it helpful? I was given 25mg thyroxine which may help but still have symptoms esp anxiety and aching limbs.
    Wondered if you were feeling better and had any tips.
    Thanks

  21. Maria says

    I googled hashimotos after being diagnosed an found your blog very helpful.I wondered how helpful the specialist was and if you had been put on thyroxine as I have.One thing that interested me is you said the antibodies had decreased after re yes testing bloods.When I asked my GP she said that they will never change or go away.Is that true ? Any light you can shed from your experience would be great.
    Thanks
    Maria

    • Hi there,
      The specialist was not very helpful at all and in fact cancelled my appointment as my TSH was within the ‘normal’ range. My GP ran more blood work a few months after I cut out gluten and the antibodies had decreased. My TSH had however, increased, but was still within the lab’s ‘normal’ range. By US standards my TSH is high. I recommend reading this article on the gluten/thyroid connection http://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection as I found it really helpful. Being gluten free has helped with my symptoms but I do still have flare ups and that is when everything goes a bit crazy – anxiety, insomnia, aches, dry skin, shortness of breath. However, my GP does not really understand what the presence of these antibodies means and the endocrinologist does not think I am a priority case, so I am back to square one again. The best thing you can do is find a specialist – an endo if possible. I am due back for a follow up with my GP next week where I will go through everything all again and just keep pushing to be seen by someone who understands this condition. I also found lots of great information on http://hypothyroidmom.com and Dana, the author, was especially helpful in advising me of what tests to insist on. Good Luck and I hope you start to feel better soon, Sarah.

      • Maria says

        Thank you for your reply.It certainly seems a grey area indeed.I saw a different doctor this morning and he is going to send me to a specialist that he said is very good.This doctor was doubtful that I had Hashimotos and asked me how I had been diagnosed so I told him about the high antibodies and he said many people have that but have no symptoms, he didn’t think that level of joint pain would come from Hashimotos but I have read on sites that it can. He told ne to stop taking thyroxine.I have had horrible anxiety/hyper episodes when driving where it is almost like I fight to concentrate,palpataions and weakness in muscles and joints.I am not sure if the thyroxine is helping or not.TSH was 6,then 3 now 4 so it is not easy to understand.At least I can see a specialist and try and get some answers.Just shows you depends which DOctor you see and their view on it! They sent you away because of your level but everything I have read said they should go on how you feel rather than levels.I hope you get some answers and symptoms start to wane.It is a puzzle for sure!

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  24. We ARE twins!
    Glad to hear you’re feeling better already – it can be a rough journey. I was diagnosed over a decade ago with Hashimoto’s, so your article piqued my interest. How did your GP discover you had antibodies? Do you know what your blood was tested for?
    I was diagnosed over a decade ago by a TSH test, which came out at 10 (think current “normal” range is 0.2 – 5). To confirm Hashimoto’s my GP then did further tests for antibodies and as they were “sky high” I was put on thyroxine which helped reduce my TSH but to be honest, the impact it had on my antibody levels I’m not sure anyone has ever told me.

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