For those people suffering from Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid, there is usually one course of action—an anti-inflammatory treatment plan. This involves consuming gut healing foods and removing foods that destabilize the immune system. However, there’s one oft-overlooked factor that causes major complications: anemia.
Anemia is problematic for Hashimoto’s patients because it blocks the cells from receiving adequate oxygen. If the cells don’t receive enough oxygen, it’s nearly impossible to manage Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid. Furthermore, anemia sets off a series of dangerous symptoms like chest pain, cold extremities, depression, dizziness or lightheadedness, fatigue or muscle weakness, a foggy mind, headaches, irregular heartbeat, and a pale skin appearance.
Additionally, there are several different types of anemia, each with its own treatment method. It’s easy to assume that all anemia is caused by an iron deficiency, but this isn’t always the case. If patients begin an unnecessary iron supplementation routine, they could end up with a toxic excess of this nutrient in their bodies. This is more dangerous than excess amounts of lead, mercury, and other metals. And of course, this further complicates Hashimoto’s.
Iron-deficiency anemia is most common. In many cases, the iron deficiency is caused by other conditions or diseases, such as Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. In these instances, the gut is damaged, and the body is unable to absorb iron. Also, internal bleeding, from conditions like stomach ulcers, can lead to iron deficiency. This anemia type is identified through blood testing and shows as low iron and low ferritin.
As indicated by the name, this anemia type results from a B-12 deficiency, which is most commonly caused by dietary or lifestyle choices. This condition is verified by two tests—serum homocysteine and urinary methylmalonic acid.
This anemia type is classified as an autoimmune disease. In pernicious anemia, the immune system attacks intrinsic factor, a stomach compound that’s used to absorb Vitamin B-12. Many Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid patients also have pernicious anemia. In testing, it shows up as B-12 anemia, and can be identified through intrinsic factor and parietal cell screenings.
Anemia of inflammation or chronic disease
With this anemia type, there’s a breakdown of red blood cells. Anemia symptoms may start even though serum levels remain normal. However, one indicator that typically reveals chronic disease anemia is high serum ferritin levels. This is a sign that the body isn’t using iron correctly. Also, this anemia type has a range of causes including overtraining, toxicity, disease, and infection, among other reasons. Chronic disease anemia must be ruled out or confirmed because, when combined with iron supplementation, it significantly increases inflammation.
Though these are the most common anemia types, there are other types to be aware of including sickle cell, hemolytic, and aplastic anemias as well as anemia caused by bone marrow disease.
Too much iron
Anemia isn’t the only iron-related complication that Hashimoto’s patients can face. Some people suffer from a genetic disorder, known as hemochromatosis, in which their bodies absorb too much iron. More than 1 million people in the U.S. have this condition. It leads to other unpleasant symptoms like abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, and joint pain. Without treatment, this disorder seriously increases the patient’s risk of arthritis, diabetes, cirrhosis, and sexual dysfunction, with other complications possible.
For anyone with Hashimoto’s, it’s crucial to screen for this condition to prevent any long-term setbacks. To manage hemochromatosis, blood must be drawn regularly to minimize iron levels in the body.
Though many of the common treatment plans for Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid are still necessary, anemia shouldn’t be ruled out. It could be the key to swift and complication-free pain management.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.