When I was training to become a naturopath, I was advised by a number of my mentors that one of the most common conditions I would see in clinic would be that of thyroid disease, how true they were!. It is not uncommon for me to see at least 3 clients a week who have been diagnosed by either their G.P. or endocrinologist as having an underactive (hypothyroidism) or over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism). However, despite the long list of clients diagnosed with thyroid conditions, I always find it interesting when I am presented with clients who have been diagnosed with variations of the foregoing thyroid condition's. For example, this week I was presented with a thyroid condition known as Hashimoto Thyroiditis, try saying that name 10 times in a row. Hashimoto thyroiditis, is the most common cause of underactive thyroid in Industrialised nations, with approximately 2 percent of caucasian women (80 percent of people suffering from hasimoto thyroiditis are women), diagnosed each year. This is a massive percentage when you consider that 2 percent of the Australian adult, female population would equate to 138,600 women each year. I mean, this figure is not surprising, is there anyone who does not know of someone who has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition?
With Hashimoto thyroiditis, the thyroid gland (sits on either side of your windpipe under your larynx) becomes inflamed, a result of the immune system attacking the thyroid gland. This is what is termed an auto-immune condition. Hashimoto thyroiditis often runs in families, and with my client this week, it was not surprising to hear that her sister was diagnosed with the condition also. Hashimoto thyroiditis is associated with a cluster of other auto-immune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease. Key signs of Hashimoto thyroiditis include fatigue, depression, modest weight gain, cold hands and feet, excessive sleepiness, dry coarse hair, constipation, dry skin, muscle cramps, increased cholesterol, decreased concentration and swelling of the legs/ankles. Before, you jump out of your chair and tell your partner that you have Hashimoto thyroiditis, keep reading. The hallmark in the diagnosis of Hashimoto thyroiditis is what is called TPO antibodies or thyroid peroxidase antibodies. Now thyroid peroxidase is found within the thyroid gland, however, it is when there is an increase in antibodies to thyroid peroxidase that the thyroid gland becomes destroyed and a person starts to produce too little thyroid hormone. This will then lead to the foregoing symptoms. What is important to know is that only 50 percent of patients tested by a pathologist will come back positive to elevated thyroid peroxidase antibodies, this the result of the wide range of "normal" values and the variability in testing by different pathology groups. Hence, several scientists believe that because testing is not always an accurate assessment of detection, early diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis will be missed.
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