In the United States, it is estimated that over 20 million people have thyroid problems. And of this number, the most common thyroid condition is Hashimoto’s Disease—a form of hypothyroidism in which the body’s immune system attacks its own thyroid gland. Despite millions of people having this disease, many suffer with life-changing symptoms for years without being diagnosed. And even after diagnosis, many Hashimoto’s patients continue to experience debilitating effects from this disease. Fatigue, muscle and joint pain, weight gain, headaches, hair loss, and throat/neck pain are some of the commonly occurring symptoms. That’s why endocrinologist and thyroid specialist Dr. Brittany Henderson and patient Allison Futterman joined together to write What You Must Know About Hashimoto’s Disease.
Realizing that far too many patients are not getting the information and care they need, the authors created this book to help those who are suffering from this all-too-common form of hypothyroidism. Written in understandable language, the authors give you an insider’s view of what you need to know about Hashimoto’s. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1, Getting to Know Your Thyroid, explains how your thyroid functions, how Hashimoto’s affects your health, and what signs to look for. Part 2, Testing and Diagnosis, looks at the most reliable tests used to detect Hashimoto’s, how they work, and what to expect from testing. Part 3, Treatment and Management, discusses the most effective conventional medications as well as those complementary treatments that have proven to be effective.
Unfortunately, there still remains a lack of understanding of Hashimoto's among patients and health professionals alike. As a serious autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s is multifaceted and complex. What You Must Know About Hashimoto’s Disease provides patients with an invaluable resource that they can rely on at every stage of their journey to greater health.
"Who wouldn't want Dr. Henderson as their own doctor? Her incredibly comprehensive book blends mainstream and progressive medicine practises seamlessly, in order to inform both medical professionals and the thyroid patients themselves of everything they ought to know, so that more can live well with thyroid disease. Instead of promoting one treatment plan, Dr. Henderson upholds that there is no one-size-fits-all approach but instead a need to treat each person as the individual they truly are."—The Invisible Hypothyroidism - Rachel Hill
"A comprehensive resource of information regarding thyroid disease! Dr. Henderson provides patients with a handbook for understanding the sum of the root causes, as well as the complexities of the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid hormone imbalance."—Michelle Campeau and Denise Roguz (ThyroidChange, The United Voice of Thyroid Patients Worldwide)
Brittany Henderson, MD, received her medical degree from Northeastern Ohio Medical University. She went on to complete her endocrinology fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Hendersonlater became Medical Director for the Thyroid and Endocrine Tumor Board at Duke University Medical Center, and then served as Clinical Director for the Thyroid and Endocrine Neoplasia Clinic at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Henderson is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology. Her current clinical practice, the Charleston Thyroid Center, is dedicated to patients with thyroid disease and thyroid cancer. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Jeff.
Allison Futterman received her bachelor’s degree in communications from Hofstra University and a master’s in criminal justice from UNC Charlotte. She is currently a freelance writer whose work has been published in print and online. She is also a Hashimoto’s patient who found hope and help in her treatment with Dr. Henderson.
Table of contents
PART 1 GETTING TO KNOW YOUR THYROID
1. Thyroid Basics
2. An Overview of Thyroid Disease
3. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
4. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Other Autoimmune Diseases
PART 2 TESTING AND DIAGNOSIS
5. Understanding Thyroid Blood Tests
6. The Role of Thyroid Imaging
7. Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy and Molecular Testing
PART 3 TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT
8. Thyroid Replacement Medication
9. Hashimoto’s Disease and Your Diet
10. Hashimoto’s and Nutritional Supplements
11. Environmental Exposures and Hashimoto’s
12. Reducing Hashimoto’s Flares and Optimizing Thyroid Levels
13. Definitive Therapies: Radioactive Iodine, Ethanol Ablation, and Surgery
14. Moving Forward
Introduction or preface
As you may have discovered, your health and well-being can be profoundly affected by a butterfly-shaped thyroid gland the size of a walnut, located at the front of your neck. “But how?” you may ask. The answer is: through the production of “hormones,” or signals that travel from the thyroid to the rest of the body through the bloodstream. When working normally, the thyroid gland can keep the body functioning in peace and harmony--but when not functioning normally, the thyroid can have a devastating impact on your health.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common thyroid disorder, affecting 14 million people in the United States alone. Simply put, Hashimoto’s is the underproduction of thyroid hormone, resulting in adverse effects on the body. You may know of this situation as “hypothyroidism.” But the larger impact of this disease stems from being one of many autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system attacks itself and causes a ripple effect on your health.
Having Hashimoto’s can and often does leave sufferers feeling incredibly sick, frustrated, and confused. It is a lifelong condition with symptoms that fluctuate between intense, sudden “flare-ups” and remission, or stretches of time when they don’t appear at all. Understanding your disease will help you to achieve stable thyroid function, meaning fewer flare-ups and less active symptoms.
Maybe you or someone you care about has recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. Or perhaps you’ve been struggling with it for years, still unable to find the help and relief you need. Possibly you suspect you have Hashimoto’s based on symptoms and your own research, but haven’t been officially diagnosed yet. Our hope is that this book will concisely and accurately give you the information you need to help understand and be proactive about this specific thyroid condition.
Hashimoto’s can be debilitating, and sufferers need to know how to be an active participant in their own care. In order to understand your Hashimoto’s symptoms (fatigue, muscle pain, weight gain, headaches, throat pain, difficulty concentrating, skin issues, and constipation, among others), you need to understand as much as possible about this complex disease. Once you do, you can then be an advocate for your thyroid health---which will lead to better overall health. This book will give you the information you need to know about Hashimoto’s, from diagnosis to treatment.
There are a multitude of books and websites out there about thyroid disease, offering different perspectives and advice. In fact, there’s so much information out there that it may overwhelm you. In your quest for knowledge, you may find yourself reading contradictory information, creating confusion and frustration. Even worse, you may be embarking on your fact-finding mission while you feel depleted from struggling from the effects of thyroid disease. There are so many opposing viewpoints, nutritional supplements, and diets, that you could try all of them and still never exhaust the possibilities. That is where we come in. You need one central place for clarity and guidance, and this is it.
You and others like you are the reason we wrote this book. As a physician and real-life patient, we have joined together to provide a place for thyroid patients to turn for answers. The information you’ll find here is grounded in both evidenced-based medicine (related to research findings) and clinical experience (based on treating thousands of patients). Our collaboration brings a uniquely valuable combination of a knowledgeable thyroid specialist and a patient who has been where you are.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to thyroid disease, and that’s because Hashimoto’s is a multifaceted disease. The more you know, the greater impact you can have in reaching your personal best health. You need facts and a plan. That’s what this book is here to do. We will guide you, step-by-step, along your journey to thyroid health. We’ve written this book in a way that breaks down complicated medical issues into understandable concepts that will enable you to navigate the complex world of Hashimoto’s.
The book is divided into three sections. Part 1 covers thyroid basics and is your introduction to why the thyroid is so important to your overall health. After reading Part 1, you will have a firm understanding of what autoimmune disease is and how it can affect the thyroid gland, in particular. We will also discuss thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer, two concurrent diseases that are more likely to occur in patients with Hashimoto’s disease.
Part 2 is designed to explain the world of testing and diagnosis that lies ahead, which is of critical importance in Hashimoto’s Disease. We will discuss available thyroid blood tests and how they can be used to optimize your thyroid health, along with a variety of other important tests that can help to establish or confirm a diagnosis and yield pertinent information about your specific situation. We also walk you through the biopsy process and introduce you to the emerging area of molecular testing.
The last section of the book is all about Hashimoto’s treatment and management. Here, we provide extensive information about treatment, including thyroid replacement options, integrative approaches, diets, and supplements. We provide useful tips on how to achieve optimal thyroid levels and suggest ways to avoid flare-ups. Finally, we offer recommendations on credible resources where you can find a qualified thyroid specialist and/or supportive community of fellow patients who have already achieved success.
Our goal is to help you be an advocate and active participant in your own healthcare. While we can’t say the process will be quick or easy, it will be worth it. We don’t profess to have magic bullets or miracle cures, because despite what you may have read, no such thing exists---at least at this point. Just know that many thyroid patients have been where you are today. Sick. Exhausted. Scared. Maybe even hopeless. But hang in there, because you aren’t alone in this. There is help. And most importantly, there is hope.