Understanding the thyroid
The thyroid is a small gland resting in the middle of the lower neck. Its primary function is to control the body's metabolism; the thyroid does this by producing T4 and T3 hormones, which tell the body's cells how much energy to use. A properly functioning thyroid will maintain the right amount of hormones needed to keep the body's metabolism functioning at a satisfactory rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements. The quantity of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream is monitored and controlled by the pituitary gland, located in the center of the skull below the brain. When the pituitary gland senses either a lack or a high level of thyroid hormones, it will adjust its own thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and send it to the thyroid to tell it what to do.
What is thyroid disease and whom does it affect?
- Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis): is by far the most common type of thyroid disease. During the progression of the disease, the thyroid gland enlarges and it does not produce enough hormones. Thus, the body uses energy slower than it should. Eventually, the production of hormones is inadequate and hypothyroidism, a deficiency of the thyroid gland, is the result.
- Graves disease: Graves is rare, but it is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. When the thyroid produces too much hormone, the body uses energy faster than it should.
There are many different reasons why either of these conditions might develop. Currently, about 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. People of all ages and races can get thyroid disease. However, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
Celiac Disease and Thyroid Disease
A significant number of patients with autoimmune thyroid disease also have celiac disease. The link between celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease is well established. Celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disorders share a common genetic predisposition. This genetic predisposition may explain the higher incidence of thyroid autoimmune disorders among celiacs than in the general population.
It has been shown in studies that the prevalence of celiac disease in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease is 4-15 times greater than that in the general population. Various findings for the prevalence of celiac disease in Hashimoto's thyroiditis have been reported, between 3.3% and 4.8% in adults. According to a 2007 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis should be screened for celiac disease and patients with known celiac disease should be screened for Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
In a large study published earlier by a group in the UK, confirmed celiac disease was found in 4.5% of adults with Graves disease.
According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Program, introducing a gluten-free diet in patients with celiac disease, with subclinical thyroiditis (only increased autoantibodies but no disease yet) is effective in most cases in bringing autoantibodies down to normal within two years. According to the study, if a patient with celiac disease already has diagnosed thyroiditis, then the gluten-free diet might not be effective.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism?
The following are symptoms for hypothyroidism: Fatigue, abnormal menstruation, forgetfulness, weight gain, dry and coarse skin and hair, hoarse voice, depression, intolerance to cold and the development of a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland).
The following are symptoms for hyperthyroidism: Irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, tremors, lighter menstrual periods, weight loss, sleep problems, vision problems or eye irritation and heat sensitivity.
For more information, please visit the Thyroid Foundation of America
Do you or a family member suffer from this disease? You may have celiac disease, find ouy now, take our celiac disease symptoms checklist.