Hypothyroidism is a serious condition found in people with and without food allergies.
However, people with food allergies, particularly those with celiac disease (a gluten allergy), frequently suffer from hypothyroidism. It’s known to cause fatigue and weight gain as well as other problems, and is often overlooked and misdiagnosed due to complexities in thyroid testing and symptoms which may overlap or contradict the symptoms of food allergies.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
Lack of adequate thyroid hormone production may result in one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, weight gain, constipation, cold extremities, inability to focus, forgetfulness, dry skin and depression.
How Is Hypothyroidism Typically Diagnosed?
Most physicians measure thyroid function not by testing thyroid hormones, but by testing levels of TSH. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.
As thyroid hormone production drops, TSH levels are supposed to automatically increase to compensate for low thyroid hormone levels. Therefore a higher than normal TSH level indicates a hypothyroid condition.
Why Does Hypothyroidism Frequently Go Undiagnosed?
Unfortunately, TSH doesn’t always respond correctly to low thyroid hormone levels. If the actual thyroid hormones themselves (called T4 and T3) are not checked, hypothyroidism can be missed. I’ve seen several cases of hypothyroidism with low thyroid hormone production and a normal TSH level.
Also, most physicians are using old data and a normal reference range that is too large when determining whether or not the TSH level is normal. This means that many people are being told that they have a normal thyroid when, according to the latest scientific standards, they are actually hypothyroid.
What Is the Current Standard for Determining Hypothyroidism?
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends that the normal reference range for TSH be reduced by nearly half, down to 0.50-2.50. The old range is 0.50-5.00. (The higher the number, the more hypothyroid you are.) This means that thousands of people are being misdiagnosed and are actually hypothyroid. Unfortunately, most physicians have been slow in adopting these new standards and many people continue to be misdiagnosed.
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.