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Thyroid And The Autoimmune Connection

By Expert HERWriter
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connection between thyroied and autoimmune conditions iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Autoimmune thyroid, known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. Testing for this condition requires a simple blood test for thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb).

New research from the International Congress of Endocrinology and European Congress of Endocrinology reported that one in six people with autoimmune thyroid have another autoimmune condition as well which requires additional workup.

The most common co-conditions included atrophic gastritis, vitiligo, celiac, antiphospholipids syndrome, and multiple sclerosis. They were also more likely to have thyroxine malabsorption, unexplained anemia, and recurrent pregnancy loss.

Atrophic gastritis occurs when there is chronic inflammation of certain cells in the stomach leading to malabsorption, pain, loss of intrinsic factor (B12 absorption), fullness, nausea, bloating, heartburn, and gas.

Vitiligo occurs when your body attacks the melanocytes in your skin causing white patches to form.

Celiac is the autoimmune condition that happens when cells of the intestines get attacked upon eating foods with wheat or gluten in them.

Antiphospholipid syndrome is commonly associated with lupus and is characterized by blood clots and pregnancy problems often resulting in miscarriage.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord that can cause vision issues, muscle problems, poor balance and motor control, spasms, weakness or tremors.

If you have a thyroid problem, or suspect a thyroid problem but you are told your numbers are normal, ask your health care provider to have you tested for thyroid antibodies.

It’s also important to watch for these other autoimmune conditions as they can have some serious ramifications. Autoimmune conditions tend to have a genetic component. Ask about your family history and see if there is a pattern.


1. Joint 15th International Congress of Endocrinology (ICE) and 14th European Congress of Endocrinology (ECE). Web. 16 May, 2012.

2. Gastritis, Atrophic. Web. 16 May, 2012.

3. Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Vitiligo. Web. 16 May, 2012.

4. Management of the Antiphospholipid Syndrome: New Approaches. Web. 16 May, 2012.

Reviewed May 17, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments

Indeed. When the immune system is overactive other organs and systems may be compromised. In the case of Hashimoto's disease not only is important to treat the thyroid, but to consider the function and treatment of the immune system because this is out of balance as well. The immune system has two branches or groups known as Th1 and Th2 and one may be attacking the other, which can be determined by a blood test. Efforts invested in balancing the response of both branches should include diet and lifestyle because foods and herbal remedies can boost it or inhibit it. You can learn more about this topic at:

May 19, 2012 - 8:41am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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