How Untreated Hashimoto’s Disease Can Lead to Other Autoimmune Diseases

Hashimoto’s Disease, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland – causing a deficiency in the production of essential thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s Disease has a wide range of symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions, so it is often missed or misdiagnosed.

But recent medical research has revealed that it is crucial to understand the potential consequences of untreated Hashimoto’s Disease, as it can increase the risk of developing other very serious autoimmune disorders.

In this article, Austin, TX thyroid specialist Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD explains the nature of Hashimoto’s Disease and its causes. And she explores the link between Hashimoto’s and various autoimmune conditions, including lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, and Pernicious anemia.

What is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own thyroid gland. This leads to inflammation and gradual damage to the thyroid, impairing its ability to produce essential thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, and overall bodily functions. Hashimoto’s Disease is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid or “hyperthyroidism.”

What Causes Hashimoto’s Disease

The exact cause of Hashimoto’s Disease still remains unknown. However, doctors believe it may result from a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Individuals with a family history of autoimmune disorders are more susceptible to developing Hashimoto’s. Environmental triggers such as viral infections, exposure to certain chemicals, and chronic stress may also play a significant role in initiating the autoimmune response that attacks the thyroid.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s Disease manifests with various symptoms that can affect each individual differently.

Many individuals with Hashimoto’s experience persistent fatigue and a lack of energy, even after getting adequate rest. This fatigue may interfere with daily activities and contribute to a sense of overall sluggishness.

Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight can also be a common symptom of Hashimoto’s. The slowing of metabolism due to an underactive thyroid can lead to weight fluctuations or an overall tendency to gain weight.

Hashimoto’s can disrupt the body’s temperature regulation, as well, as making individuals more sensitive to cold temperatures. Patients may feel cold more easily, even in situations where others are comfortable. Changes in hair texture and dry, brittle hair are frequently observed in individuals with Hashimoto’s. Skin may become dry, rough, and prone to itching or flaking.

Hashimoto’s can also impact mood and mental well-being. Individuals may experience depression, anxiety, irritability, or brain fog. These symptoms, however, are often attributed to other causes such as menopause or other hormonal imbalances.

Diagnosing Hashimoto’s Disease

Recognizing Hashimoto’s Disease can be challenging as the symptoms can overlap with other health conditions. If you suspect you have Hashimoto’s, it is essential to consult a thyroid specialist like Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX for a proper evaluation. She can conduct thorough testing to measure thyroid hormone levels, thyroid antibodies, and perform a physical examination to assess the size and condition of the thyroid gland.

These diagnostic tools, coupled with an assessment of symptoms, can help determine whether Hashimoto’s Disease is the underlying cause.

Hashimoto’s Disease Link to Other Autoimmune Disorder

Untreated Hashimoto’s Disease can have far-reaching consequences beyond thyroid dysfunction and it’s symptoms. The chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation associated with Hashimoto’s can increase the risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, including lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, and Pernicious anemia.

Lupus affects multiple organs and tissues, causing inflammation, joint pain, skin rashes, and fatigue. And untreated Hashimoto’s Disease can potentially increase the risk of developing lupus.

Hashimoto’s Disease has also been associated with an increased likelihood of developing Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition characterized by joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Both disorders share many common autoimmune mechanisms, and untreated Hashimoto’s may contribute to the development of RA.

Hashimoto’s Disease can also trigger Addison’s disease, a rare autoimmune disorder affecting the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce vital hormones, and when damaged, they result in symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances.

While Hashimoto’s Disease causes an underactive thyroid, it can paradoxically lead to the development of Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder causing hyperthyroidism. Individuals with Hashimoto’s may experience fluctuations in thyroid function, eventually leading to the overproduction of thyroid hormones characteristic of Graves’ Disease.

More recently, pernicious anemia, a condition in which the body lacks sufficient vitamin B12, has also been linked to Hashimoto’s Disease. The autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland may also affect the stomach’s ability to produce intrinsic factor, a protein necessary for B12 absorption, potentially leading to pernicious anemia.

Diagnosing & Treating Hashimoto’s Disease

Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD, a renowned functional medicine doctor and thyroid specialist, offers years of expertise in diagnosing and treating Hashimoto’s Disease – to relieve symptoms, restore health, and to prevent the development of further autoimmune problems. With her comprehensive understanding of the underlying factors contributing to autoimmune disorders, Dr. Harper takes a personalized approach to patient care, focusing on the root causes of Hashimoto’s and its potential impact on overall health.

Through extensive diagnostic testing, Dr. Harper aims to accurately identify Hashimoto’s Disease and its associated factors. This includes assessing thyroid hormone levels, thyroid antibodies, and other relevant markers. By understanding the specific imbalances and dysfunctions within the immune system and thyroid gland, she tailors treatment plans that address the unique needs of each individual.

Dr. Harper’s treatment approach for Hashimoto’s Disease focuses on optimizing thyroid function, reducing inflammation, and supporting the body’s natural healing mechanisms. She may recommend dietary modifications to address nutrient deficiencies or sensitivities and provide targeted supplementation to support thyroid health and immune function.

Additionally, Dr. Harper emphasizes the importance of addressing lifestyle factors that may contribute to autoimmune disorders. This includes stress management techniques, optimizing sleep patterns, and reducing exposure to environmental toxins or triggers that may exacerbate Hashimoto’s symptoms.

Hashimoto’s Disease | Thyroid Specialist | Austin, TX

Early diagnosis, appropriate management, and proactive treatment of Hashimoto’s Disease are essential to minimize the risk of developing these additional autoimmune conditions and promote overall health and well-being. Scheduling a consultation with a thyroid specialist like Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin is crucial for accurate diagnosis and comprehensive management.

By implementing her extensive knowledge of functional medicine principles, Dr. Ruthie Harper offers a comprehensive approach to treating Hashimoto’s Disease. Her goal is to not only alleviate symptoms but also prevent the development of further autoimmune problems by addressing the root causes and promoting overall health and well-being.

Patients who seek Dr. Harper’s expertise can expect compassionate and individualized care, as she works collaboratively with them to develop customized treatment plans. By combining evidence-based medicine with the principles of functional medicine, Dr. Ruthie Harper empowers her patients to regain control of their health and achieve optimal wellness while preventing the progression of autoimmune disorders associated with Hashimoto’s Disease.


Could Your Menopause Symptoms Actually be Graves’ Disease?

If you are suffering from fatigue, mood swings, weight changes, irregular menstrual cycles, and other common symptoms of menopause, you may actually be a victim of Grave’s Disease.

Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland, leading to an overproduction of thyroid hormones. This condition can cause a variety of symptoms that may be similar to other medical conditions – so it is often mistaken for conditions like menopause or other hormonal imbalances.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Graves’ disease affects nearly 1 in 100 Americans, or about 5.7 million people. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States, accounting for about 4 out of 5 cases.

In this article thyroid specialist and integrative medicine doctor Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin TX explains the overlap between menopause and Grave’s disease – and explains how you can tell what is causing your symptoms.

Who Gets Grave’s Disease?

Grave’s disease is more common in women than men. The disease typically affects people between the ages of 20 and 50, but it can also occur at any age. Because this age and gender range overlaps with that of menopause, healthcare providers may mistakenly diagnose menopause as the primary cause of symptoms in women approaching their 40s, overlooking the possibility of Grave’s disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Grave’s Disease?

The thyroid is an essential gland that influences almost every function of the body – from reproduction to weight gain, to mood. So, when the body has a disease of the thyroid, such as Grave’s disease, it can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Grave’s disease can cause mood issues and psychological symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, and depression, which are also associated with menopause. These psychological symptoms can further complicate the diagnostic process, as they can be attributed to a wide range of various other factors.

Hyperthyroidism related symptoms of Grave’s disease can include weight loss, increased appetite, rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations), and even tremors. While eye-related symptoms may include bulging eyes (exophthalmos), dry or gritty sensation in the eyes, redness, double vision, light sensitivity, and eye pain or pressure.

Some individuals with Graves’ disease may experience skin problems such as swelling or thickening on the front of the lower legs (pretibial myxedema) or a red, raised rash on the shins known as Graves’ dermopathy.

Is It Menopause of Grave’s Disease?

Grave’s disease may also cause many symptoms that overlap with menopause including mood swings, heat intolerance, excessive sweating, and difficulty sleeping. Grave’s disease can also cause irregular or heavy menstrual periods, which can be mistaken as PCOS in younger women and menopause in older women.

Without proper diagnosis, it can be challenging to differentiate between these conditions. As a result, many physicians miss Grave’s disease and simple prescribe menopause treatments – such as estrogen therapy – without doing a full diagnosis.

How to Diagnose Grave’s Disease

To accurately diagnose Grave’s disease, a thyroid specialist like Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX will perform a thorough medical history review that looks at the ‘big picture,” a physical examination, and order very specific tests. Blood tests that measure levels of thyroid hormones (such as T3 and T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) can help identify the excess production of thyroid hormones associated with Grave’s disease.

In some cases, additional imaging studies or specialized tests, like a thyroid ultrasound or radioactive iodine uptake scan, may be necessary. Radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) tests measure how much radioactive iodine the thyroid gland absorbs, providing information about its function. Ultrasound or scintigraphy may be performed to evaluate the size, shape, and structure of the thyroid gland.

What Causes Grave’s Disease?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder – meaning that the patient’s own body mistakes one of its own parts as a foreign invader an attacks it. Like many autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of Graves’ disease is not fully understood. However, it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors.

Certain risk factors, such as family history of autoimmune disorders, smoking, and high iodine levels, may also increase the likelihood of developing Grave’s disease. Additionally, some recent clinical studies suggest that infections or stress may trigger the onset of Graves’ disease in individuals with a genetic predisposition.

This comes as no surprise to integrative medicine doctors like Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX who know that diet, stress, and other lifestyle factors contribute to many chronic conditions and diseases.

How Grave’s Disease is Treated

Grave’s disease should always be treated by a thyroid specialist like Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX. While treatment options for Graves’ disease are aimed at restoring thyroid hormone levels to normal, many physicians will just throw a one-size-fits-all thyroid prescription at the patient.

However, the best choice of treatment should be customized to each patients test results, age, overall health, severity of symptoms, and personal preferences. Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX provides a comprehensive approach that may combine antithyroid medications, iodine therapy, lifestyle adjustments – and in rare but extreme cases thyroid surgery.

Radioactive iodine therapy should be used extremely sparingly as a last resort. This treatment involves taking a radioactive iodine capsule or liquid that is selectively absorbed by the thyroid gland, leading to the destruction of thyroid cells. Over time, this treatment typically results in hypothyroidism, which then needs to be managed with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

In other extreme cases, surgical removal of all or a part of the thyroid gland may be recommended, particularly if there are large goiters, or severe eye complications. However, other treatment options should be exhausted first to avoid destruction of the thyroid or invasive surgery if possible.

Grave’s Disease Doctor | Austin, TX

If you are a woman over 40 who is suffering from symptoms that are interfering with your enjoyment of life, it may be menopause – but it may also be Grave’s disease! Integrative medicine thyroid specialist Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose and differentiate between conditions like Grave’s disease and menopause. Then she will put in place a customized treatment and management plan that is individualized for you and your symptoms – so you can stop suffering and get your quality of life back!

Grave’s Disease Doctor | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355


Treating Hypothyroidism: Why Synthroid May Not be Enough

If you suffer from fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, and/or cold intolerance, your doctor may have determined you have “hyperthyroidism.” Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. This hormone plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism, growth, and development in the body.

After doing some blood work, your physician’s approach may have been to prescribe a medication called Synthroid. This is a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement medication, and it is the most common treatment for hypothyroidism.

However, recent research has shown that using Synthroid alone may not be enough to resolve hypothyroidism for everyone. In this article thyroid expert Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin TX explains why Synthroid on its own may not be sufficient to resolve your hyperthyroidism symptoms – and what you can do about it!

Why Synthroid Alone May Not Resolve Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland produces both thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones. One reason why Synthroid may not be enough to resolve hypothyroidism is that it only replaces one of the two primary thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland.

Synthroid only contains T4, which needs to be converted into T3 in the body to be effective. However, this conversion process may not work efficiently for some people, leading to a buildup of T4 and a deficiency of T3. This can result in persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism despite taking Synthroid.

Another reason why Synthroid may not be enough to resolve hypothyroidism is that it does not address the underlying causes of the condition. Hypothyroidism can be caused by various factors, such as autoimmune diseases, iodine deficiency, or inflammation of the thyroid gland.

While Synthroid can help manage the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it does not address the root cause of the problem. Therefore, if the underlying cause is not treated, the hypothyroidism may persist even with Synthroid.

An integrative medicine thyroid expert like Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX can look at the “big picture” and get to the root cause of your condition – and not just put a “band-aid” like Synthroid on the symptoms.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of Synthroid may vary depending on the individual’s genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. For instance, certain genetic variations can affect the way the body processes thyroid hormones, making some people more resistant to thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
Additionally, factors such as stress, diet, and other medical conditions can also impact thyroid function and the body’s response to Synthroid. Therefore, some people may require additional therapies or lifestyle changes to manage their hypothyroidism effectively.

Again, an integrative medicine thyroid expert like Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX will look at the patient as a whole and help put in place a comprehensive hypothyroidism management plan that includes both medications and helpful lifestyle adjustments.

What to Do When Synthroid Doesn’t Work

Fortunately, there are alternative treatment options available for people with hypothyroidism who are not responding adequately to Synthroid. One option is to use a combination of T4 and T3 hormone replacement therapy that can be customized to the patients need through a compounding pharmacy.

This approach involves taking a prescription that contains both T4 and T3 hormones to bypass the conversion process in the body. Some studies have shown that this combination therapy can improve symptoms and quality of life for people with hypothyroidism, especially those who are not responding to T4-only therapy.

Another option is to address the underlying cause of hypothyroidism directly. For example, if the hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the focus of treatment may be on reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system. This can involve dietary changes, supplements, or medications that target inflammation and autoimmune responses.

Similarly, if the hypothyroidism is caused by iodine deficiency, increasing iodine intake through diet or supplements may help restore thyroid function.

In addition to medication and lifestyle changes, there are also natural remedies that thyroid expert Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD can prescribe to help manage hypothyroidism symptoms. These include herbs, such as ashwagandha and guggulu, which have been shown to support thyroid function and improve symptoms in some studies. Other natural remedies that may help include acupuncture, massage therapy, and stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation and yoga.

Hypothyroidism Doctor | Austin, TX

While Synthroid is an effective treatment option for many people with hypothyroidism, it may not be enough to resolve the condition for everyone. Integrative medicine doctor and thyroid expert Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD will work with each individual patient to determine the underlying cause of their thyroid problems and to ensure that the thyroid replacement medication is adequate.

Dr. Harper will also identify any underlying conditions, and put together a personalized treatment plan to resolve your symptoms and restore you to optimal health and an excellent quality of life.

Thyroid Doctor | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

thyroid doctor austin-tx

Is Hashimoto’s Disease Really a Thyroid Disease?

By Ruthie Harper, MD | Austin, TX

If you are experiencing symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, constipation, hair loss, or difficulty getting pregnant, it may be time to check your thyroid gland to see if you have hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, is a condition where the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s disease is a relatively common diagnosis, with up to 14 million people in the United States alone affected by it. And while there are different causes of hypothyroidism, with increasing frequency this condition is caused by Hashimoto’s disease.

When Hashimoto’s disease is the cause of low thyroid function, the body is making antibodies against the thyroid gland that slowly destroy the gland over time. This leads to under-functioning of the thyroid gland and low levels of thyroid hormone production. So, while on the surface, Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease appears to be a problem with the thyroid gland, it is actually an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the root cause lies within the immune system.

Causes of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease

Hashimoto’s disease is the now most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States typically affecting women more than men and is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 50 years and above. Stress, dietary imbalances and hormonal shifts such as perimenopause or menopause are believed to be contributing factors to the development of this condition along with a family history of autoimmune disorders. 

While people may focus on Hashimoto’s disease as a thyroid disease simply requiring thyroid hormone replacement, it is equally important to focus on the underlying autoimmunity that causes this condition. This becomes important because people with Hashimoto’s autoimmunity are at increased risk for developing a second or third autoimmune condition. And while low thyroid function can be treated with thyroid hormone replacement, autoimmune conditions that destroy other vital organs such as the heart, liver or kidney become much more serious conditions if the immune system remains out of balance.

Treating Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease

Managing Hashimoto’s disease therefore requires a more comprehensive approach than simple thyroid hormone replacement and an integrative approach including dietary and lifestyle changes should always be included.

Dietary changes that reduce or eliminate the consumption of gluten, dairy and soy  have been shown to be beneficial in managing the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease. The proteins in these particular foods are considered foods that are relatively new to the human diet and for this reason can trigger autoimmunity in susceptible individuals.  When the body doesn’t recognize food as fuel, and instead recognizes it as a foreign substance, autoimmunity can result.

Because stress can exacerbate the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, taking steps to reduce stress  by practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can be useful. In addition, getting enough sleep and creating a peaceful home environment are key.

Supplementation with key vitamins and minerals can help to reregulate the immune system and allow the thyroid function to improve. People with Hashimoto’s disease often have deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, vitamin D, zinc and iodine. Testing for deficiencies of these nutrients with replacement through a qualified professional can be valuable.

People with Hashimoto’s disease are more sensitive to environmental toxins, so switching to natural cleaning products, eliminating plastics, and avoiding exposure to pesticides and chemicals in your everyday life can support healthy immune function and rebalancing of the immune system.

Thyroid Hormones and Hashimoto’s Disease

Having an adequate amount and balance of thyroid hormone is also essential for maintaining optimal health and managing Hashimoto’s. The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is T4 replacement therapy, but some experts suggest that adding T3 may be a better option for certain patients. T3 and T4 are hormones produced by the thyroid gland that regulate metabolism in the body. T4, or thyroxine, is the primary hormone produced by the thyroid gland and is responsible for converting to T3, the biologically active form of thyroid hormone.

Despite the success of T4 replacement therapy, some experts believe that adding T3 therapy may be an important option for certain patients. A small subset of patients with hypothyroidism experiences persistent symptoms despite normal levels of T4. Some studies have suggested that a combination of T3 and T4 therapy may improve symptoms in these patients.

Compounding pharmacies can now help physicians personalize thyroid hormone replacement for individuals by combining just the right amount of T4 and T3 into each person prescription leading to resolution of low thyroid symptoms and balanced blood levels of thyroid hormone. The best course of action for each patient should be determined by a healthcare professional based on their individual symptoms, medical history, and lab results.

Specialized Thyroid Disease Doctor | Austin TX

So, is Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease really a thyroid disease? On the surface, it might seem that way, since the thyroid gland is the primary organ affected by this disorder. However, since the root cause is due to the immune system attacking the thyroid, it is really an autoimmune disease. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease, it’s important to realize that it’s not just another thyroid disorder.  Seeking out a specialist who can comprehensively address rebalancing the immune system as well as replacing thyroid hormone becomes important to help individuals regain the health of both the thyroid and immune systems and reestablish optimal health.

At Ruthie Harper MD, our practice takes an integrative or complementary approach to medicine that considers the whole person, including their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. We offer a personalized approach to healthcare that treats the whole person rather than just their physical symptoms.

Unlike traditional medicine, which often relies on the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures to treat symptoms, integrative medicine encourages individuals to take control of their health and wellness by promoting natural solutions that incorporate lifestyle changes, nutrition, and complementary therapies.

As a board-certified internist, Ruthie Harper MD combines the best of conventional Western medicine with alternative therapies, allowing patients to receive a tailored treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. By asking the “why” of symptoms and disease rather than simply the “what disease do you have” we are able to get to the root cause of your problems and achieve better overall health outcomes with reduced side effects.

Our goal for each patient is to provide a more customized and effective approach to healthcare that can improve the quality of life for all individuals.

Estrogen Dominance & Female Health Problems

The female hormone estrogen plays many important roles in a woman’s body. Estrogen helps regulate the menstrual cycle and is essential for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Estrogen also has many other functions, including sexual drive and enjoyment, keeping cholesterol under control, and protecting bone health.

But, with almost anything in life, you can have “too much of a good thing”. And estrogen is no exception! While many women suffer from insufficient estrogen levels as they get older and approach menopause, having too much estrogen is also a problem.

The state where there is too much estrogen in a woman’s system is called “estrogen dominance”. And doctors and researchers now believe that estrogen dominance can play a role in many conditions such as PCOS, infertility, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and even certain breast cancers.

What is Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance is a type of hormonal imbalance in which a woman’s body produces too much estrogen. But even if a woman’s estrogen levels are not “off the charts” she can still be suffering from estrogen dominance, if her estrogen levels are abnormally high relative to her progesterone levels.

Progesterone is another sex hormone that is essential for the female body. It also helps regulate menstrual cycles, supports conception and pregnancy, and much more. Estrogen and progesterone work in tandem to regulate one another, to keep the body in balance and menstrual cycles regular, and to help support other organs such as the thyroid.

If estrogen levels are too high, or progesterone levels are too low, estrogen becomes the more dominant sex hormone in the body. And this imbalance is called “estrogen dominance.”

Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

Because estrogen affects so many of the female body’s functions, many of the symptoms of estrogen dominance are similar to, or the same as, symptoms of hormone fluctuation due to the menstrual cycle or perimenopause or menopause. So, symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose estrogen dominance.

 Any or all of these symptoms may be (but are not necessarily) signs of estrogen dominance:

  • Weight gain (in the belly, hips, thighs)
  • Slow Metabolism | Water Retention
  • Headaches | Fatigue | Insomnia
  • Brain Fog | Mood Swings
  • Uterine Fibroids | PCOS
  • Irregular Periods | Infertility
  • Low Sex Drive (Libido)

Estrogen Dominance & Thyroid Disease

Estrogen also suppresses thyroid hormone and increases the body’s need for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) – while progesterone has the opposite effect and stimulates thyroid hormone production. So, if estrogen levels are dominant, it may cause a woman to enter a state of hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones). And this also affects the immune system, as well.

Prolonged exposure to excess levels of estrogen can place a woman at greater risk for autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease), other autoimmune disorders, and even certain cancers.

Causes of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance is usually caused by a variety or combination of factors, rather than just one thing.

Before menopause, chronic stress, poor gut and liver health, and certain environmental toxins are all believed to contribute to estrogen dominance. Additionally, failure to ovulate (anovulation) can result in low progesterone levels in the last half of the menstrual cycle, making estrogen more dominant.

Hormonal birth control, improperly administered hormone replacement therapy, and obesity can also contribute to estrogen dominance. And there is also believed to be a genetic component to excess estrogen production.

Estrogen dominance also often turns up during perimenopause – the 5 to 10 years before menopause when hormones fluctuate erratically, as a woman’s reproductive functions begins to decline. So, while both estrogen and progesterone decline during perimenopause, if progesterone declines more than estrogen declines, estrogen dominance can still occur.

Treating Estrogen Dominance

Treating estrogen dominance is best done with a multifaceted approach that addresses the whole body, not just the hormone levels.

Some women may need to switch to an alternative method of birth control that does not use synthetics estrogens. For other women biodentical hormone replacement therapy can help restore the balance between estrogen and progesterone.

If the estrogen dominance has caused or contributed to an underactive thyroid, they will typically need to take thyroid hormone replacement medication to meet the body’s metabolic needs and help rid the body of Hashimoto’s symptoms and other health problems.

Most women will also benefit from specific dietary and lifestyle modifications that help bring their body and their hormones back into balance.

Lifestyle Changes for Estrogen Dominance

Digestive issues can be resolved or improved with simple lifestyle changes that can help treat estrogen dominance. Increasing dietary fiber and restoring microbial balance in the gut can eliminate an unhealthy accumulation of “bad” bacteria that contributes to estrogen imbalance.

Removing dietary triggers like alcohol, reducing exposure to toxins, and exercising regularly can support the liver – which is responsible for breaking down excess estrogen. And getting more sleep enables the body to repair tissue and detoxify itself – which includes getting rid of old cells and excess hormones.

Finally, high stress levels lead to chronically high cortisol, which stresses the adrenal glands that play an essential role in estrogen production. Chronic stress also worsens autoimmune conditions and inflammation. So, meditation, relaxing and other stress control techniques are beneficial for balancing estrogen and progesterone levels.

Estrogen Therapy | Austin, TX

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with Doctor Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX to see if your hormone levels are out of balance. Dr. Harper has helped women restore hormone balance and get their quality of life back, for over 20 years. She will conduct a thorough and personalized blood testing and hormone analysis and customize a treatment plan that is safe and effective for your unique needs.

And if you are outside of the Austin, TX area, or prefer to use telemedicine, Dr. Harper can schedule a tele-consultation, and have remote blood work done in your area, so you can start living your best life again!

Estrogen Treatment, Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

How Doctors Miss Thyroid Diseases in Women

If you are female there is more than a 12% chance that you currently are, or at some point in your life will be, suffering from thyroid disease. That’s twice the risk that women face of incurring heart disease in the United States. But what makes thyroid disease even more insidious is that up to 60 percent of women with thyroid disorders are unaware that they are sick!

Because the thyroid influences almost every organ and function of the body, thyroid problems can manifest in a wide variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms: fatigue, inability to lose weight, insomnia, low libido, headaches, body aches, anxiousness, memory issues, and much more.  But, as women, because we are used to just “pushing through” these types of problems – continuing to fulfill our duties as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, employee or boss – we often blame these maladies on stress, “that time of the month,” or menopause.

But ignoring thyroid problems can compromise your quality of life in the short term – as well as lead to long-term, permanent health complications if your thyroid disorder remains untreated. And, while Austin, TX thyroid expert Doctor Ruthie Harper knows how incredibly busy you are, a short appointment to get your thyroid checked can lead to improvements in your energy, health, weight and well being that are well worth it now… and for years to come!

In this article, Austin, TX top thyroid doctor, Ruthie Harper, MD, explains some of the most common thyroid diseases that affect women – and explains what you can do to diagnose and treat a thyroid disorder so that you feel better, look better, and live better!

The Varied Symptoms of Women’s Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid is a tiny butterfly-shaped gland in the base of your neck that makes thyroid hormones which travel in the bloodstream to every part of your body. So, symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can show up almost anywhere in the body – from the brain to the bowels.

Additionally, thyroid disease can cause the thyroid to produce too little hormone (hypothyroidism) or too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) – so the symptoms of thyroid disease can be exactly opposite each other in different women. For example, hyper-thyroid disease can make one woman lose her appetite and feel nervous or anxious, while hypo-thyroid disease may make another woman gain weight and feel lethargic or fatigued.

To make matters worse, many doctor’s often fail to recognize that a cluster of unrelated symptoms in a woman may all relate back to a thyroid problem. Typically doctors just treat the symptoms – for example prescribing Ambien to help sleep – and they do not look at the underlying cause.  

But with proper, thorough blood testing, Austin TX, women’s thyroid specialist Doctor Ruthie Harper can identify any chronic thyroid issues, so that the root cause of your problems can be addressed, rather than just masking the symptoms.

Most Common Women’s Thyroid Diseases  

Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition in which there is inflammation of the thyroid after childbirth. While this disorder affects up to 10% of women in the first 4 months after they have given birth, it is often written off as the “baby blues” by doctors – and so it often goes undiagnosed. Postpartum thyroiditis can cause fatigue, mood swings and even sadness – much like postpartum depression.

Postpartum thyroiditis will often return to normal within 12 to 18 months, but it should be treated before that. To begin with, early treatment helps ensure that a new mother has the energy and clear mental state to enjoy her newborn’s first year of life. Additionally, untreated postpartum thyroiditis increases a woman’s risk for developing permanent hypothyroidism within 5 to 10 years.

Hypothyroidism in Women

Because the symptoms of hypothyroidism (producing too little thyroid hormone) develop slowly, often over several years, women often mistake this condition for “normal aging” or menopause.  But, while we all may slow down a little bit as we get older, normal, healthy aging should not be marked by excessive fatigue, weight gain, brain fog or sluggishness!

Having your thyroid levels thoroughly tested to identify any deficiencies can be the first step to restoring energy, vitality and quality to your life at any age. Additionally, since hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, belly fat, hair loss and drying skin, treating hypothyroidism as early as possible can also help a woman remain youthful looking!

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy at Doctor Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX can restore missing thyroid amounts of thyroid hormones. This therapy is safe, effective and natural – without the side-effects of synthetic hormones.

Hyperthyroidism in Women

Like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism (production of too much thyroid hormone) also comes on gradually over time. And, many of the signs of hyperthyroidism can be similar to the symptoms of menopause, including: feeling hot; menstrual irregularity; mood swings; and more. So, many women and their doctors also mistake hyperthyroidism for menopause or signs of aging.

However, it is essential to diagnose hyperthyroidism as early as possible, as it raises a woman’s risk for osteoporosis – which can lead to debilitating and life-threatening bone fractures. Hyperthyroidism is also associated with high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can raise a woman’s risk of heart disease.

Inflammatory Thyroiditis in Women

Thyroiditis occurs when the body’s immune system makes antibodies that attack the thyroid, causing inflammation. Hashimoto’s Disease is the most common type of thyroiditis in women. Ascertaining the underlying cause of the inflammation and properly treating it is the first step in remedying the many symptoms of thyroiditis.

If the underlying causes of thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition, early diagnosis is important because underlying autoimmunity can lead to a second or third autoimmune condition such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammation of the heart, brain or liver.

Thyroid Nodules & Thyroid Cancer in Women

Thyroid nodules – swelling in one section of the thyroid gland – may be solid or filled with fluid or blood. These nodules may occur individually or in clusters. Many thyroid nodules cause no symptoms, other than a lump or bum in the neck – and thankfully the majority of thyroid nodules are non-cancerous.

But some thyroid nodules, if left untreated, will eventually interfere with either swallowing, breathing or both. And, since three times as many women get thyroid cancer as men – and the number of women with thyroid cancer is increasing and is expected to double – thyroid nodules should never be ignored.

Diagnosing & Treating Women’s Thyroid Disease

The good news is that Doctor Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX understands and offers in-depth testing for thyroid disorders in women. She will test all of your thyroid hormone levels (TSH, Total T4, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3), combined with other diagnostic and nutritional testing, to provide a comprehensive and successful approach to diagnosing, treating, managing, and even reversing your thyroid disease.

Many other doctors just prescribe a “standard dose” of the synthetic, lab-created hormone Synthroid. But Dr. Harper will customize an individualized treatment plan just for you – often utilizing safe and natural bioidentical hormone replacement – based on your unique and specific thyroid levels and other hormone deficiencies.  

Woman’s Thyroid Doctor | Austin, TX

If you are a woman living in the greater Austin, TX area, who would like to improve her quality of life, schedule a thyroid consultation with Dr. Harper today. She will get to the root of your low energy, sleep problems, weight gain, sexual concerns, or other health issues – and help you restore balance and wellbeing to your body and your life!

Women’s Thyroid Doctor – Austin, TX: (512)343-9355

The Link Between Menopause & Thyroid Conditions

The thyroid is a small gland that lies in the front of the throat, which produces hormones that impact virtually every single tissue and organ in the body. And menopause, of course, is the change that occurs in a woman’s life when female hormone production declines, menstruation stops, and she is no longer able to bear children.

But, when the thyroid gland produces too much or too little thyroid hormone, it can cause several symptoms in a woman’s body that are quite similar to the symptoms of menopause. This can make it difficult for a woman to determine the underlying cause of health issues or body changes that she may be having as she gets older.

In this article, Austin, TX thyroid specialist Dr. Ruthie Harper discusses the link between thyroid conditions and perimenopause/ menopause, including how each affects the other, and what a woman can do to restore optimal hormone balance.

Estrogen and Thyroid Conditions

It can often be challenging to tell apart the symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid and menopause, because they are very similar.

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include: fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, mood swings, mental fogginess, thinning hair, and more. That sounds a lot like many of the classic symptoms of menopause, doesn’t it?

And an overactive thyroid – or hyperthyroidism – can also produce similar symptoms to menopause, such as: hot flashes, heat intolerance, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and trouble sleeping.

Almost a decade ago this relationship began to be explored. In 2011 a clinical study published in the Journal of Thyroid Research reported that there exists strong evidence that estrogen may have direct effects on thyroid cells. So, leading up to menopause (“perimenopause”), and after menopause, when estrogen levels fall significantly, it makes sense that thyroid levels would be affected.

Is It Thyroid, Menopause or Both?

The transition to menopause typically begins between the ages of 45 to 55 years old. But thyroid disease can begin at any age.

Generally, hypothyroid problems are significantly more common in women of childbearing age. While hyperthyroidism is more commonly found in perimenopausal and menopausal women. This is believed to be because of the relationship between thyroid function and estrogen, which is the primary female sex hormone.

But a woman experiencing any of the symptoms listed above should never just assume that age-related changes in her body are attributable only to menopause or perimenopause.

The only definitive method to determine if troublesome symptoms are the result of a thyroid imbalance or menopause is through diagnostic blood testing, performed by a hormone expert such as Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX.

Why Diagnosing Thyroid Issues Matters

While many women try to just “ride out” the symptoms of perimenopause, ignoring underlying thyroid problems can dramatically increase the risk of complications that are associated with menopause. For example, during menopause, women are at a much greater risk of developing osteoporosis that can lead to debilitating bone fractures. But an overactive thyroid can significantly increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Another example is the risk of cardiovascular disease which increases in women during menopause. When a thyroid condition co-exists with menopause it increases the risk of dangerous heart disease.

In other words, thyroid problems may interact with menopause to increase the likelihood of developing a more serious disease or other complications.

Testing for Thyroid vs. Menopause

Austin, TX hormone and thyroid expert Dr. Ruthie Harper can perform tests to definitively diagnose whether your symptoms are the result of menopause, or whether you have an underlying thyroid disorder.

Both menopause and an underactive thyroid can be diagnosed with a thorough panel of blood tests, including:  

  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) – raised levels can indicate menopause.
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH) – persistently raised levels also indicate menopause.
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) – a high level can indicate an underactive thyroid.
  • T3 and T4 – Dr. Harper can identify other thyroid conditions.
  • Thyroid antibody testing – may indicate Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Dr. Harper also tests for Total T4, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3, which are often ignored or not understood by doctors who are not thyroid experts

Treating Menopause and Thyroid Conditions

If testing reveals that a woman’s symptoms are due to her “change of life” Dr. Harper can prescribe 100% natural, safe and effective bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to help reduce the symptoms associated with perimenopause.

Similarly, if a patient’s blood work reveals that thyroid problems are at play, Dr. Harper can offer the best thyroid treatments. She has been named one of the top 10 best thyroid doctors in the state of Texas and has a record of successful treatments for thyroid dysfunction using the most advanced, natural and integrative healthcare techniques.

It is important to take a holistic and integrative approach to both thyroid disorders and menopause because of how closely the two conditions often interact, and how easy it is for their symptoms to be confused. Thyroid and menopause hormone therapy should be part of a comprehensive program to get the entire body back in balance, so that you can lose weight, have more energy, improve hair & skin, sleep better, and continue to live your best life!

Treating thyroid disfunction and menopause comprehensively and simultaneously also ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk for life threating medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or heart disease.

Menopause & Thyroid Treatment – Austin, TX

With accurate diagnosis and comprehensive, integrative treatment and regulation of thyroid and menopause hormones, the outlook for patients with underlying thyroid disorders is excellent.

But the relationship between thyroid and menopause is quite complicated and requires an experienced and holistic expert like Dr. Ruthie Harper to be effectively diagnosed and treated.

If you live in the greater Austin, TX area, schedule a consultation today and take the first step toward getting your body and your life back in balance!

Austin, TX Menopause & Thyroid Treatment: (512) 343-9355

The Relationship Between Thyroid & Weight Loss

Most doctors are aware that there is a complex relationship between thyroid disease, metabolism and gaining weight. Yet few physicians really understand how to test for, and successfully treat, the thyroid dysfunctions that can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX utilizes integrative health techniques, including in-depth testing of all thyroid hormone levels, and other diagnostic and nutritional tests, to provide a comprehensive approach to thyroid management that can increase metabolism and help with weight loss.

In this article she discusses how thyroid illnesses and imbalances can cause weight loss or gain.

How the Thyroid Influences Weight Loss & Gain

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the front of the neck that makes thyroid hormones, and secrets them into the bloodstream. The blood then carries them to every tissue and organ within the body.

In addition to keeping the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs in working order, thyroid hormones help the body use energy and stay warm. These functions – known as “metabolism” – affect how we store energy in the form of weight gain or loss. So, when thyroid hormone levels are out of balance, the body can have trouble “burning” energy … and unwanted weight gain accumulates.

Hyperthyroidism and Weight Loss

Hyperthyroidism refers to a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive – and produces too much thyroid hormone. If the thyroid is extremely overactive, the person will be burning too much energy – and they will require an increase in calories consumed, in order to maintain their body weight.

If a person with hyperthyroidism does not increase their intake of calories to offset the excess calories burned, they will lose weight. And, while there are many factors in addition to thyroid hormone that control appetite, on average the more serious the hyperthyroidism, the more weight will be lost.

However, ironically, since hyperthyroidism also increases a person’s appetite, some people with too much thyroid hormone may actually gain weight – if their increase in appetite causes them to consume more calories than they burn.  

When hyperthyroidism is treated, and hormone levels are returned to normal, it is also important that the patient reduce their calorie intake to normal levels. If a person has “gotten used to” eating more calories because of their extra energy expenditure during hyperthyroidism, they will gain weight when the hyperthyroidism is treated if they do not cut back.

Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain

Patients with hypothyroidism are not producing enough thyroid hormone, and therefore are not burning enough energy. As a result, they often feel cold and will typically undergo some unwanted weight gain.

And, as one would suspect, the more severe the hypothyroidism, the greater the weight gain. However, while some of this weight gain occurs in the form of excess fat accumulation, extra weight gain due to hypothyroidism can also be attributable to excess retention of salt and water.

According to the American Thyroid Association, in general, up to 10 pounds of body weight may be attributable to hypothyroidism. However, at our Austin, TX medical practice we have seen patients lose much more than this, once their thyroid levels were balanced and their metabolism levels were restored to normal.

Keep in mind, however, that massive weight gain is rarely attributable to hypothyroidism only. And, if weight gain is your only symptom of hypothyroidism, it is likely that the weight gain may be due to other factors.

The only surefire way to determine if hypothyroidism is responsible for your unwanted weight gain is to undergo thorough thyroid testing and diagnosis.

Dr. Ruthe Harper, MD in Austin, TX has been named one of the top 10 best thyroid doctors in the state of Texas. Her integrative approach to thyroid disorders and weight loss is successful because she holistically addresses all of the interconnected systems within the body.

Can Thyroid Treatment Help Me Lose Weight?

The American Thyroid Association reports that in clinical studies thyroid hormone treatment produces more weight loss than can be achieved by dieting alone.

Once hypothyroidism is treated and thyroid hormone levels are restored to balance, most patients can expect to lose about 10% of their body weight. With both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, rebalancing of the thyroid hormones typically results in a return to the body weight that the patient had before the thyroid condition developed.

And, once the patient’s hypothyroidism has been treated and thyroid hormone levels are in the normal range, their ability to gain or lose weight will be the same as “normal” individuals who do not have thyroid problems.

But it is important to remember that weight gain is a complex problem that may have multiple causes. That is why it is important to take a holistic and integrative approach to both thyroid disorders and weight loss. In other words, thyroid hormones should not be thought of as an isolated “weight loss tool”. Instead thyroid hormone therapy should be part of a comprehensive program to get the entire body back in balance, so that you can lose weight and maintain your weight loss over time.

Thyroid Treatment for Weight Loss – Austin, TX

There are many other factors besides thyroid imbalance, including heredity, other hormones, proteins, and more, that control energy expenditure, appetite, body weight, and weight loss or gain.

In addition to balancing your thyroid hormones, Dr. Ruthie Harper can help you achieve and sustain weight loss with our “skinnyDNA” program. This system identifies your unique genetic makeup and enables us to develop a customized weight loss program based on your individual DNA.  

If you suspect your weight gain is related to a thyroid imbalance, or if you simply have been struggling to lose weight without success, Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX can help.

Schedule a consultation today and take the first step toward getting your body back in balance and your weight under control!  

Weight Loss & Thyroid Treatments – Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

Why Women Have More Thyroid Disease Than Men

Why Women Have More Thyroid Disease Than Men

More than 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disease. But females are five to eight times more likely to incur thyroid problems than males. And, with an estimated one in eight women developing thyroid disease in their lifetime, scientists and doctors have struggled for decades to figure out the reasons for this huge gender difference.

In this article, Austin, TX top thyroid doctor, Ruthie Harper, MD, explains some of the reasons why more women than men suffer from thyroid disease.

What Is Thyroid Disease?

The thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces essential hormones that help the body regulate temperature, metabolize energy, and support the muscles, brain, heart, and other organs. The diseases that can affect the thyroid are numerous and varied.

Conditions causing hyperthyroidism, the production of too much thyroid hormone, include: Graves’ disease, adenomas (nodules); thyroiditis (inflammation causing hormone “leaks”); and, cancer.

Causes of hypothyroidism, the production of too little thyroid hormones, are typically either autoimmune in nature (Hashimoto’s Disease), or are environmental (exposure to x-rays, iodine or lithium). In Hashimoto’s Disease an autoimmune reaction causes the body to attack the thyroid tissue, eventually destroying the thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones.

Both Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease are up to eight times more common in women than men!

Theories on Why There is More Thyroid Disease in Women

Both Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease are autoimmune disorders – and almost all autoimmune conditions have a higher incidence in women than in men.  So, doctors look to what is known about autoimmune diseases for clues as to why more women than men suffer from thyroid disease.

Hormones and Thyroid Disease in Women

The female hormones estrogen and prolactin play an important role in modulating the immune system. And some of the most common onset times for thyroid disease to occur are pregnancy, puberty, and peri-menopause. So, scientists believe that female hormones may play an important role in the development of autoimmune thyroid conditions.

Women’s Care Products and Thyroid Disease

Unfortunately, women’s personal care products are often filled with toxins. Studies report that the average American female uses twelve personal care products, which add up to 168 different chemical ingredients – while men on average use just six personal care products containing 85 different ingredients.

Skincare ingredients that are absorbed into the skin, are an especially intensive delivery system for chemicals and toxins. And many of these products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as parabens, that can disrupt healthy hormonal balance.

Genetics and Thyroid Disease

There is also a hereditary component to thyroid disease, as many of these conditions – including Hashimoto’s Disease – tend to run in families. But, while some women do have a genetic predisposition to developing thyroid disease, in identical twin studies only 50 percent of studied twins both had Hashimoto’s disease. So, genes alone are not the single responsible factor.

Nutrition, Stress and Thyroid Disease

Most experts in the field of thyroid disease believe that a combination of nutrient deficiency, food sensitivity, and stress, can also trigger thyroid diseases including Hashimoto’s disease.

The basis of this theory is a bit complicated – but very interesting. All of these factors have one thing in common: that the body feels like it is under stress or danger and needs to go into an “energy-conservation” mode in order to survive.

Stated another way, through human history, during times of famine (nutrient deficiency), war, and other stresses it was important for human’s bodies to conserve resources. So, during these various traumas, the body adapted by decreasing thyroid function, in order to slow down metabolism.

Known as “adaptive physiology” this theory suggests that the human body develops chronic illness as a protective mechanism, to adjust to problems in the environment. So, in this scenario, when a woman experiences stress and/or insufficient nutrients in her diet (from dieting, processed foods, food sensitivity, poor diet, etc.) the thyroid “thinks” she needs to start conserving energy – and begins to effectively “shut down”.

Modern Life and Thyroid Disease in Women

As women, our bodies carry a tremendous amount of stress throughout our lives – from bearing children, to raising a family, and then juggling these duties with a career and constant pressure to be thin and attractive. Tragically, women are also more likely to be physically, emotionally, and sexually abused than men.

And, any or all of these stressful life experiences can send a signal to the woman’s body that she is in “danger” – which then triggers the thyroid to start conserving energy. The result is weight gain (which is actually a good thing in times of famine) as well as decreased energy (which may have kept women safe throughout history, by keeping them still).

Additionally, today our diets are far from what humans once ate in their original state. Most of us eat a processed diet lacking in essential nutrients. And, thanks to modern agri-business farming practices, even fruits and vegetables have far fewer of the nutrients than they once did. For example, as a result of mineral depletion of agricultural soil, a woman would have to eat 25 apples today, to get the same amount of iron from a single apple in 1950!

And, of course, many women are perpetually on a calorie-restricted diet in efforts to remain unrealistically thin. Which further signals the body that food is in short supply, so the thyroid may slow down in order to compensate!

Treating Thyroid Disease in Women – Austin, TX

The good news is that there are many things that a woman can do to remedy dietary deficiencies, as well as reduce stressors to make her body feel “safe” again, so that the thyroid will stop “conserving resources”.

But remember, genetic predisposition, hormonal factors, environmental exposure, stress and diet “triggers” will vary from person to person.  For this reason, a woman experiencing thyroid disease or deficiency needs to consult with a physician like Dr. Ruthie Harper who truly understands disorders of the thyroid in women – and can help her get to the root cause of Hashimoto’s disease or other thyroid conditions.

Diagnosing and treating thyroid problems is much more complex and nuanced than just prescribing a “standard does” of Synthroid, like most physicians do. Most doctors simply do not recognize the effects of reproductive hormones, stress hormone, and nutrition on optimal thyroid function.

Dr. Harper uses in-depth testing of all thyroid hormone levels (TSH, Total T4, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3), combined with other diagnostic and nutritional testing, to provide a comprehensive and successful approach to treating thyroid disease.

If you live in the greater Austin, TX area, schedule a thyroid consultation with Dr. Harper today to restore your health and quality of life!

Women’s Thyroid Disease Consultation – Austin, TX: (512)343-9355

What Causes Thyroid Disease? Diagnosing the Underlying Factors

The Underlying Causes of Thyroid Disease

The thyroid gland produces hormones that affect almost every organ, as well as the body’s energy level and ability to lose or gain weight. The list of symptoms of thyroid disease is almost to long too list, but can include: fatigue, weight gain, muscle pain or weakness, thinning hair, infertility, menstrual problems, depression, memory loss, and much more.

Hashimoto’s Disease is the most common type of hypothyroidism, or slow, “sluggish” thyroid. Grave’s Disease is the most common hyperthyroidism disease, a condition where the thyroid is overactive. But both of these thyroid diseases are autoimmune disorders. An autoimmune disease is any condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy cells.

Tragically, the average person with thyroid disease suffers from symptoms for about 10 years before being properly diagnosed! And, unfortunately, most physicians simply do not understand the symptoms, diagnostic procedures, or the underlying causes of thyroid disease.

But at Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX we understand that early intervention can stop or reverse the progression of thyroid disease, as well as sometimes even prevent the need for medications. Obviously, it is much better to prevent damage to an organ than to heal a severely damaged one! Diagnosing and understanding the complex, underlying cause(s) of your specific thyroid problems is the first step toward getting the treatment that is best for you.

The Underlying Causes of Thyroid Disease

Most scientists believe that there is an interaction of complex factors that contribute to autoimmune conditions, including thyroid disease. These include hereditary factors, environmental exposures, dietary sensitivities or deficiencies, hormones and certain other “triggers” such as stress or bacterial and viral infections. In this article we explore some of this underlying “root” causes of thyroid disease.

Genetics and Thyroid Disease

There is an established hereditary component to thyroid disease. Many thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s Disease run in families. But, while genetic predisposition is a factor, it is not the whole story. We know this because in identical twin studies only 50 percent of studied twins both had thyroid disease. Which means that genes alone must not be the single responsible factor.

Environmental Exposure and Thyroid Disease

Exposure to excessive amounts of iodide / iodine can result in thyroid disease. Common causes of iodine exposure are cold and sinus medications, heart medicine (amiodarone), contrast dyes before X-rays . The drug lithium has also been indicated as a cause of hypothyroidism.

Exposure to other toxins, like fluoride and many others, can also cause damage to the thyroid and contribute to an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland. Toxins can be found in everything from certain processed foods, to skincare products, make-up and certain medications.

Hormones and Thyroid Disease

Almost all autoimmune conditions, including thyroid disease, have a much higher incidence in women than in men. This is believed to be because the female sex hormones estrogen and prolactin play an important role in modulating the immune system.

Scientists believe that female hormones may play an important role in the development of autoimmune thyroid conditions. This is supported by the fact that some of the most common onset times for thyroid disease to occur in women are during hormonal periods such as puberty, pregnancy and peri-menopause.

Nutrition and Thyroid Disease

Nutrition affects every organ and function of the body – and the thyroid is no exception. Progressive scientists and physicians believe that diet affects thyroid disease in a number of complex ways.

To begin with, it is believed that any depletion or deficiency of nutrients may be enough to convince the body that it is “starving” – and so it shuts down the thyroid in order to slow metabolism and conserve the body’s energy.  And, since most people consume a processed diet lacking in essential minerals, vitamins and other nutrients, poor diet may be a root cause of thyroid disease for many. Unfortunately, modern agri-business farming practices also strip the soil of essential nutrients, so even a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may no longer have enough nutritional value.

Similarly, many people skip meals or otherwise decrease caloric intake due to dieting, or simply because of a busy work/life schedule. This too can “trick” the thyroid into thinking the body is experiencing “famine” – triggering decreased thyroid production.

Other cutting-edge researchers believe that the diet-thyroid connection is even more complex. Some scientists have linked autoimmune diseases to gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, “leaky gut syndrome,” and reactions to multiple other proteins including dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and grains such rice, quinoa, and corn.

Glutamine deficiency and zinc depletion have also been implicated in various autoimmune conditions ranging from Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease to Rheumatoid Arthritis and others. Others researchers speculate that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) caused by antibiotic overuse, starchy foods, and other factors can result in intestinal leaks that lead to nutrition depletion, resulting in autoimmune thyroid disorders.

Other Underlying Causes of Thyroid Disease

While stress alone, or a bacterial or viral infection by itself, does not directly cause thyroid disease, these are also believed to be important contributing factors or “triggers” in some people with thyroid conditions..

When combined with a hereditary predisposition, dietary deficiencies, toxin exposure, and/or other environmental damage to the body, stress or infection can be the “final straw” that stimulates the body’s immune system to begin mistakenly attacking its own thyroid.

Thyroid Disease Diagnosis & Treatment – Austin, TX

The good news is that there are many things that a person can do to treat thyroid disease, including remedy dietary deficiencies, reduce stressors, and re-balance hormones.

But it is important to keep in mind that genetic predisposition, hormonal factors, environmental exposure, diet, stress and other “triggers” will vary greatly from person to person.  For this reason, individuals experiencing thyroid disease need to consult with a physician like Dr. Ruthie Harper who truly understands disorders of the thyroid.

Most doctors simply do not recognize the effects of reproductive hormones, stress hormones, and nutrition on optimal thyroid function.  And, effective thyroid disease treatment is much more complex, holistic and nuanced than just prescribing a “standard does” of Synthroid, like most doctors do.

Dr. Harper uses in-depth testing of all thyroid hormone levels (TSH, Total T4, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3), combined with other diagnostic and nutritional testing, to provide a comprehensive and effective approach to diagnosing and treating thyroid disease.

Schedule a thyroid consultation with Dr. Harper today to restore your health and quality of life!

Thyroid Disease Diagnosis & Treatment – Austin, TX: (512)343-9355