Guest Author - Jim Lowrance
Sometime ago, I had an office visit with an Endocrinologist and I took my LabOne blood test results with me. He found on the results, where my thyroid hormone levels were at optimal range (Free T-3 at top of normal) but even though I had been on hormone replacement medication (Armour), for over two years, my TG and TPO antibodies were still elevated. My TG ABs, were “537” (normal range <40), so were about 500 points above normal. My TPO ABs, were “120” (normal range <35), so were about 85 points above normal.
My complaint at that time was continuing mild to moderate joint pain, especially in my upper spine and shoulders and moderate, intermittent fatigue. His response to this was that elevated antibody levels also mean there is resulting “inflammation” and that this could cause these symptoms, apart from my normal thyroid hormone levels. I was amazed that other Doctors I had seen and even the drug manufacturer’s websites, do not mention the role of thyroid antibodies, in causing ongoing symptoms, despite proper hormone replacement medication treatment!
My Endo prescribed me a short-term round of “corticosteroids” (anti-inflammatory steroid) and told me afterward that I could take occasional over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen to help with symptoms. Since that time, my joint pain has gone down to only rare, mild occurrence and I rarely have the need to take an anti-inflammatory but I do still have occasional bouts of mild to moderate fatigue.
I am not sure why more is not being said about this area because it makes complete sense that highly activated immune system activity, means a bodily response manifesting in different degrees of symptoms, depending upon how highly elevated antibody levels are. Inflammation from the autoimmune disease process also manifests in symptoms, which means the disease process itself is also what causes the illness and not the resulting hypothyroidism alone.
When patients complain to their Doctors about symptoms but their hormone levels are replaced to optimal levels, the Doctor will likely tell the patient that their symptoms cannot be thyroid disease related because their hormone levels have been corrected. I have heard this scenario related by many, many patients however, when these patients ask for a retest of their thyroid antibodies levels, and they will come back highly elevated. I have heard some patients report TPO levels in the 1,000s which would seem to be a prime candidate for explaining symptoms but some Doctors seem to believe the antibodies levels are insignificant.
It is the opinion of much research that has been conducted, that thyroid antibodies do play a role in symptoms and I hope even more research and surveys will be conducted.