Thyroid Radiation and Hashimoto’s: Exploring the Connection

In the video “Thyroid Radiation and Hashimoto’s: Exploring the Connection” by Martin Rutherford, he delves into the topic of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune attack on the thyroid. He discusses the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and the progression to hyperthyroidism caused by the immune system. Rutherford explains the traditional treatment approach of prescribing thyroid hormone, but emphasizes that for many individuals, this is not enough. He then introduces the option of thyroid radiation as a third alternative, clarifying its purpose and potential effects.

Rutherford goes on to highlight the importance of understanding Hashimoto’s and the connection between the immune system and thyroid function. He explains that while the thyroid problem is often the initial concern, it is ultimately an autoimmune problem that needs to be addressed. He emphasizes that getting attacked by the immune system can lead to a range of symptoms beyond just thyroid-related issues. Rutherford concludes by discussing the lingering symptoms patients may experience even after thyroid removal, due to continued attacks from the immune system.

Thyroid Radiation and Hashimotos: Exploring the Connection

Understanding Hashimoto’s

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is a condition characterized by an immune attack on the thyroid gland, which is the main cause of hypothyroidism. People with Hashimoto’s often experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, constipation, dry skin, puffiness in the face, and dry mouth. These symptoms are a result of the immune system attacking and destroying thyroid tissue, leading to imbalances in thyroid hormone production.

Hashimoto’s is both a thyroid problem and an autoimmune problem. Initially, the immune system targets the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroid symptoms. However, as the immune system continues to attack the thyroid, it can also lead to hyperthyroidism, resulting in symptoms such as anxiety, heart palpitations, tremors, and night sweats.

Signs and Symptoms of Hashimoto’s

The signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, constipation, dry skin, puffiness in the face, dry mouth, and dry eyes. Additionally, as the condition progresses, individuals may experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as anxiety, heart palpitations, tremors, and night sweats.

The Thyroid Problem

In Hashimoto’s, the immune system mistakenly identifies the thyroid gland as a threat and launches an attack on it. This attack leads to inflammation and damage to thyroid tissue, impairing its ability to produce thyroid hormones. As a result, individuals with Hashimoto’s often experience an imbalance in thyroid hormone levels, leading to symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The Autoimmune Problem

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is classified as an autoimmune condition. The immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body from foreign invaders, mistakenly attacks healthy thyroid tissue. This autoimmune response involves the production of antibodies, specifically thyroid peroxidase enzymes (TPO antibodies), that target and destroy thyroid cells. Even after the thyroid gland is removed or damaged, the immune system continues to produce these antibodies, causing ongoing inflammation and potential damage to other tissues in the body.

Thyroid Radiation and Hashimotos: Exploring the Connection

Treatment Approaches

The treatment approaches for Hashimoto’s generally focus on managing the symptoms and restoring balance to thyroid hormone levels. The primary treatment involves hormone replacement therapy, where synthetic thyroid hormones such as levothyroxine or natural desiccated thyroid supplements like Armour Thyroid are prescribed. These medications help replenish hormone levels and alleviate the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Endocrinologist’s Approach

When individuals with Hashimoto’s consult an endocrinologist, the doctor typically evaluates their thyroid function through a standard thyroid panel test, including thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), T3, and T4 levels. However, it is important to note that a comprehensive thyroid panel that includes additional markers like TPO antibodies can provide a more accurate assessment of the autoimmune component of Hashimoto’s.

While hormone replacement therapy may provide temporary relief for some individuals, it may not fully address the underlying autoimmune aspect of the condition. As a result, alternative treatment options such as radiation or surgery may be considered.

Thyroid Radiation and Hashimotos: Exploring the Connection

Radiation as an Option

Radiation therapy using radioactive iodine is sometimes recommended as a treatment option for individuals with Hashimoto’s. The patient is given a radioactive iodine pill, which targets and destroys the remaining thyroid tissue. The aim is to eliminate the source of the immune attack and prevent further damage to the thyroid gland.

How Radiation Works

Radioactive iodine is effective in treating thyroid conditions because the thyroid gland selectively takes up iodine for the production of thyroid hormones. When the radioactive iodine is ingested, it is absorbed by the thyroid tissue. The radiation emitted by the iodine destroys the thyroid cells, reducing the production of thyroid hormones.

Thyroid Radiation and Hashimotos: Exploring the Connection

Effects of Radiation on the Thyroid

After undergoing radiation therapy, individuals may experience a period of hypothyroidism as their thyroid function decreases. During this time, they will need to rely on thyroid hormone replacement therapy to maintain hormone levels and manage symptoms. It is essential to have regular follow-ups with healthcare providers for monitoring and adjusting medication dosages.

Conclusion

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is a complex condition characterized by both thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune activity. While traditional treatment approaches often focus on hormone replacement therapy, individuals who do not experience symptom relief may explore alternative options such as radiation therapy. Radiation can be an effective method for addressing the autoimmune aspect of Hashimoto’s by eradicating the remaining thyroid tissue. However, it is important to discuss treatment options with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable approach based on individual circumstances.

Thyroid Radiation and Hashimotos: Exploring the Connection