Are some thyroid antibodies normal?

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I recently had a thyroid panel completed. My test results came back negative for thyroid autoimmunity, but I still had some antibodies. My anti- TPO and anti-tg were about 25% of the reference range. My other results were in the reference ranges. I go to a naturopathic doctor and she felt that these antibodies were a little higher than she would have liked. 

So, my question is, is having slightly elevated thyroid antibodies normal? I DO have a lot of hypothyroid symptoms. Constant fatigue, body aches, difficulty with simple exercise, and I have this sort of odd, fairly constant dry ache toward the front of my throat. I have also been digagnosed with bipolar disorder. It's fairly common for people with bipolar disorder to also have thyroid issues. 

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  • Posted

    Hello Anna:

    My name is Shelly and I am a nurse in the USA.  I have Hashimoto's Thyroid disease since 1987.

    TPOA and TGab are antibody tests to help determine any autoimmune problems.  The normal amount on TPOA is 0-34 and on TGab  0-9.

    Many people can have in the early phases some antibodies and if the number is over the so called reference range it should be looked at.  They can do another major test called an ANA direct and Sed. Rate.  These 2 tests can pick up autoimmune disease even more than the TPOA & TGab.

    Now if you are at 25% - I suggest you ask for these tests, ANA Direct, Sedimentation (SED) Rate.  Also a T3 level alone, and a FT3 these 2 tests will show the amount of the useable hormone in your blood.

    Symptoms of thyroid problems are:  Sleepy or tired despite rest, unable to complete a task because of low energy,  weight gain despite diet, muscle aches and pains, bruising for no reason, no periods or infrequent ones, low body temp and pulse, feeling brain foggy, dry skin and brittle nails, depressed feelings, dizzy at times, BP problems,  These are common and there are more.

    Bipolar disease treatments by way of meds could bother the thyroid.  So if you are on a medication it could be why the results were the way they are. However please get to see an Endocrinologist (a doctor who know the thyroid), because it is important to catch it early and if needed take hormone replacement. Once you are on meds bad symptoms will subside.

    Please keep us posted on how you do. Any questions just ask,



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    • Posted

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply, Shelly! I will ask about some additional tests. I have changed my medication once already, because what I was taking caused excessive hair loss and weight gain, which seems like a sign that it may have been doing something to my thyroid. I think my hair loss has slowed down, but it is still quite dry. Weight sure isn't coming off, though. I think connecting with an endocrineologist for another opinion is a good idea. Thanks again for your response! Super helpful!!!  

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  • Posted

    Hi Anna,

    I've spent the past year researching hashimoto's and thyroid diseases.  Surprisingly, even though doctors and many popular blogs talk about hashimoto's as if they have it figured out, it's very far from understood.   The prevailing theory of the moment is that the immune cells of the body attack the thyroid and over time, destroy is, causing the patient to became hypothyroid.  Periods of being hyperthyroid are said to be from large doses of thyroid hormone releasing into the blood stream when the immune cells attack.   Periods of hypothyroid are seen as being cause by loss of function from the immune cells destroying the thyroid.  

    As of now, all of this is only theory.  Science has not yet given us any definitive answers about what the antibodies mean for the thyroid.  We do NOT know if the antibodies destroy the thyroid.  We have only observed that a percentage of people who have antibodies eventually lose thyroid mass and function.  A percentage of people with antibodies go on to have no loss in mass or function.   We may eventually discover the antibodies to be a protective reaction to something environmental that threatens the thyroid.  We just don't know enough yet.  

    Until recently, it was believed that another gland, the thymus, which was observed to shrink and for some, disappear after adolescence, was no longer needed in adulthood.  Now we know that the thymus gland can shrink away and grow back again, depending on the needs of the immune system.

    Many doctors do not even test for antibodies, because we do not know enough about their implications, AND because the treatment is exactly the same whether the patient has antibodies or not.  

    What we do know quite a lot about is that thyroid patients have a problem absorbing and metabolizing nutrients.  Thyroid patients do not convert beta-carotene into vitamin A.   We know that without T4, riboflavin cannot be used.  Riboflavin deficiencies cause dryness of the lips, mouth, throat and eyes.   High doses of riboflavin help thyroid patients, but also thyroid medication (T4) improve riboflavin metabolism.

    Look for the study on hashmoto patients and thiamine.  One of thiamine's many many roles is in making stomach acid.  Thyroid patients have low stomach acid.  Without stomach acid, food can't be properly digested and nutrients will not be absorbed.  

    There is also a study on vitamin A and subclinical hypothyroidism from 2012 that's really interesting.  

    My personal experience is that I have high TPO antibodies, and at one point had a very high TSH, with every symptom possible:  loss of voice, cardiac arythmias, high blood pressure, swelling of the legs and face, high cholesterol, high liver enzymes, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, depression, fatigue, insomnia, heavy periods, frequent periods, and I'm sure more that I'm forgetting.... oh yeah, memory problems.  lol    Despite this long list, it took a while to get a diagnosis and it came only after I found improvement on my own, with supplements and foods like beef liver.   I should have said yes to the thyroid medication they wanted to give me, because my recovery would have been faster with both meds and supplements together.  But I was able to fully recover with just supplements and am now feeling better than I have in decades.  It's been one year since my diagnosis.   I had three breast lumps that have disappeared, and I've been able to go off all the allergy meds and decongestants I'd been using for my sinus symptoms for years.   


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    • Posted

      Thank you for this response! That's super interesting about the hyper and hypothyroidism cycling theory. Honestly, both conditions have so many common symptoms with bipolar disorder that thyroid health is something I need to address. Don't know if anything will ever be perfect in my case, but I want to get back as much physical and mental health as possible. Every positive step makes things a little better! 

      That's also super interesting about antibodies as a possible response to an environmental trigger. Haven't heard any of these theories before, so this is fascinating. 

      I take a b complex vitamin and some omega 3 supplements now, along with a probiotic. But, I'll definitely ask my doctor about some other high quality supplements based on what you just mentioned.

      Also, I am very happy to hear that your breast lumps disappeared! That is amazing. Wishing you continuous good health. Thanks so much for sharing! 


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