Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid are a modern epidemic. Hashimoto’s is a disorder in which your body’s immune system, which normally helps defend you from pathogens, mistakenly attacks your thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism. Current research tells us multiple factors can play a role in causing autoimmunity, including viruses — we’ve long known specific viruses are linked with Hashimoto’s. Now, recent research links the otherwise relatively benign reovirus with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which symptoms are triggered by eating gluten.

This is of concern to Hashimoto’s patients as celiac disease and gluten intolerance are also linked in studies with Hashimoto’s low thyroid.

Normally Harmless Virus Can Raise Celiac Risk

Although celiac disease is estimated to affect one in 133 people in the United States, less than 20 percent have been diagnosed.

Research has traditionally focused on genetic factors underlying celiac disease, but a recent study found a link between celiac disease and reovirus, a normally benign virus.

The study found that mice with celiac-like symptoms had higher levels of reovirus antibodies than control mice. They also had high levels of a gene regulator that plays a role in raising the risk of developing gluten intolerance.

Researchers tested two different reovirus strains (T1L and T3D) on mice. Although both triggered an immune response, only the T1L strain caused an immune reaction to gluten.

This response depended on a molecule called interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1). Other research shows higher than normal levels of IRF1 in children with celiac disease.

he research suggests that a reovirus infection early in life may raise the risk for developing an autoimmune reaction to gluten in genetically predisposed children.

Chronic Viral Infections Raise Risk for Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid and Other Autoimmune Diseases

Research increasingly exhibits that viruses and bacteria may trigger autoimmunity. This may be because the pathogens resemble human tissue, confusing an over stressed immune system into attack.

Many people today experience lifestyle-induced chronic inflammation, which over activates the immune system to become hyper zealous. This makes it more likely to attack self-tissue and trigger an autoimmune disease.

Here are some viruses that researchers have found may be linked to various autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s low thyroid:

  • Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis: Epstein Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex 1 and 2, hepatitis C, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • Multiple Sclerosis: EBV and measles virus.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: EBV, hepatitis C, E-coli bacteria, and mycobacteria.
  • Lupus: EBV.
  • Type 1 diabetes: Coxsackievirus B4, cytomegalovirus, mumps virus, and rubella virus.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome: EBV, CMV, and campylobacter bacteria.

Did a Virus Trigger Your Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid?

A viral or bacterial infection does not mean you will develop autoimmunity; typically, other risk factors must be at play. However, if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, screening for and treating a chronic virus can help you manage your autoimmune condition.

Some viruses such as Epstein Barr can persist for decades without clear-cut symptoms.

Ask RedRiver Health & Wellness how we can help you manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.