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Do you feel like you might be missing out on important information about your thyroid antibodies? Are your thyroid antibodies going up and down and you have no idea why? I want to take you on a deep dive of thyroid antibodies, and what they mean for your health today. Join me, and we will provide insight on everything you ever wanted to know about this important topic.
Thyroid Antibodies and Your Health
So, what makes thyroid antibodies so important? They are actually key in showing if someone has Hashimoto’s disease. Moreover, tracking and thinking about the nature of antibodies, and thinking about what controls them, can give us some great and important insight into the state of our health.
For today, I want to focus on the particular nuances of thyroid antibodies. There are some things you might not expect, so I want to walk you through them so that you never have to be surprised when it comes to your health.
Here are some of the things about your thyroid antibodies that you might not have seen coming:
#1: Not Everyone with Hashimoto’s Has Thyroid Antibodies
In fact, 40 – 50% of people do not have thyroid antibodies during any point of testing. Even more than that, though, will not have them at any point – ever. It can happen that if you are tested at one point, they may be negative, even when they are positive at other points of testing (1).
This can result in a false positive test, because of the random nature of thyroid antibodies. While the presence of thyroid antibodies can confirm that you have Hashimoto’s disease (2), lacking them does not rule out Hashimoto’s entirely. If you have heard this before from your doctor, it might be that they are not operating as extensively as they should be.
In Conclusion: Gone one moment, and here the next, thyroid antibodies have a way of presenting themselves at random times. This means that while you think you might be negative, you might actually be positive – thyroid antibodies can be tricky like that.
#2: Thyroid Antibodies Change A Great Deal
This point happens to fall along the same lines as the previous one – where thyroid antibodies have a habit of “revealing” themselves in unexpected ways. They have a bit of an elastic nature, where they are forever in motion and changing.
If it happened that you checked your antibody scores three times a day, for three weeks, you may see different scores every single time. What does it mean, though? It means that the measurements of thyroid antibodies are simply not consistent and not predictable.
This means that when you are on treatment, you cannot base changing thyroid antibody levels on recent developments in your healthcare routine – because it might simply be random. It truly takes multiple readings, over a large period of time, in order to identify and understand the trends in your thyroid antibody levels. There is so much randomness found throughout, that we need to have a large picture of understanding in order to rule most of it out.
In Conclusion: Thyroid antibodies have the potential to be up, down and all over the place. The biggest takeaway from this is that they do wander around and that a higher score does not mean that you are doing something wrong. At the same time, it also does not mean that you are doing something right – it might just be completely random, so you should not base your decisions on your thyroid antibody levels entirely.
#3: Testing Is Always Important
After all that we have covered, there is one thing I do want to emphasize about your thyroid antibody levels: testing them is definitely important! Just because they are random does not mean that you should not test your thyroid antibody levels (3). You definitely want to test if someone is getting diagnosed, and where they are presently at – even if that changes over time. This can ultimately give another piece of evidence confirming Hashimoto’s disease.
When thyroid antibodies are exceedingly high, above the 2000 range, they can be predictors of risk for other versions of autoimmunity (4). If you notice that your readings are consistently high, you may want to track them more often. This way, you can confirm that they do come down so as to rule out that added risk for autoimmunity disorders.
After you have been diagnosed and begun treatment, the testing results do less and less for our overall understanding. This is because they go back to being more random, and are less able to give us real insight into our health. If everything else is stabilized, your antibody scores are not going to play a large role in predicting your future conditions or symptoms.
In Conclusion: While I always advocate testing over guessing, we do need to realize that after we have been diagnosed and treated that thyroid antibodies level scores do less and less for the overall understanding of our health. At their best, they can confirm and predict, but they are for the most part incredibly random. Keep an eye on them, but do not obsess over them after a certain point.
#4: You Have To Know Which Antibodies To Test
So, we have covered how important testing can be for thyroid antibodies – but which ones do you test, in general? The first thing we need to know is that there are two things that we are going to be testing, which are often lumped together, and these are:
- Thyroid antibodies, and
- Thyroid inflammation
There are going to be three key thyroid antibodies that we want to test. We will consider these the main ones moving forward. They are:
- Thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin
The first two are affecting the thyroid glands absorption of iodine, and the formation of nutrients – both of which we know are so important to the success of our thyroid. The last one, thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI), affects how your gland responds to being told to work.
Key Insight: The interesting thing about TSI is how closely related to TSH it is – having the antibody TSI is actually just like TSH is to your thyroid. It makes your thyroid work, even when your brain might not want it to work. In that way, it is more commonly associated with Graves’ disease.
There is overlap, though, in the sense that some with Hashimoto’s disease have Graves’ disease as well – and vice versa.
The last thing to think about, in this context, is also thyroglobulin (which is related back to thyroid inflammation, as I mentioned before). Thyroglobulin (TG) is important to track independent on the antibodies I previously mentioned because it can act as a marker for thyroid inflammation and thyroid tissue growth in our bodies.
Key Insight: High TG scores can actually point to present or emergent thyroid cancer. So, for this reason, it is more critical to track on a regular basis than these other thyroid antibodies – unless your antibodies are incredibly high (greater than the 1000’s).
If you are ever having to be choosy about your testing, for financial reasons, think about having your TG tested a couple times a year. At the same time, consider testing your antibodies once a year. Both will give you a better idea of your overall health, and you will be able to identify and treat any problems as they emerge.
Your Thyroid, Your Health, Your Life
Knowing more about your thyroid can be the piece of the puzzle that unlocks so much more information about your overall health – how much do you know about yours? Take the thyroid quiz today (5), and learn a little bit more about your health. Who knows, it may end up really benefitting your life down the road, and the more information you have about your health is always valuable.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.