There’s far greater awareness that tests to identify viruses are useful to help uncover the possible root cause of a thyroid problem.
You see, a viral illness can easily masquerade as thyroid dysfunction. What’s more, a long standing viral infection can worsen hypothyroid symptoms.
Could identifying a chronic viral infection help heal your thyroid?
There’s no single test to detect all the different chronic viral infections that are now so common in our society.
For this reason, healthcare practitioners usually screen individuals for the main viruses that cause long term problems.
Your practitioner will also take into account your symptoms and health history. For instance, they will ask if you ever had glandular fever, hepatitis, or some other major infection during your life that left you feeling very unwell.
The Tests You Need To Know About
Termed antibody tests, these types of blood tests are the obvious place to start the search for chronic infections.
Antibodies are molecules produced by the immune system to fight an infection. When specific antibody tests are conducted it’s possible to uncover antibodies that are specific to a particular viral infection. When antibodies are discovered it indicates you have been infected due to maternal transmission, or infection has occurred later in life.
The tests listed here screen for the main viruses that establish life-long infection and those commonly associated with chronic health issues.
Chances are you’ve heard of some of these…
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibodies
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibodies
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV)) antibodies
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV) antibodies
- Varicella Zoster virus antibodies
To ensure survival viruses act as hijackers, targeting specific organs. They invade healthy cells, and then use the cells to replicate themselves. This can damage or destroy the cells which causes a range of symptoms depending on the location. For example, when a virus takes hold in the liver it can lead to fatigue, liver tenderness, digestive disturbances, and nerve problems.
Research also shows when Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infects immune cells a protein produced by the virus ‘turns on’ the genes associated with autoimmunity.
Bottom line: The longer a virus is in the body the harder it is to identify a problem. A virus lodged within the cell continues to replicate. What’s more, by integrating itself deep within the cell it can avoid detection by the immune system. This makes identifying a long standing viral infection a real challenge. It’s the reason infections lodged deep within the body are often missed with conventional testing.
The Chronic Fatigue – Hypothyroidism Connection
Viral infections tend to attack, then retreat. These silent infections may even lay dormant for weeks, months, or even years before causing trouble.
You may already know chronic, active infections are linked to chronic fatigue syndrome. In fact, chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms often mimic those associated with hypothyroidism.
You can read more about chronic fatigue syndrome here; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and The Hypothyroidism Connection
Tests to Identify Chronic Infections
EBV and CMV are the two most common viruses that trigger chronic fatigue symptoms. For this reason healthcare practitioners routinely test for these two viruses when a person is experiencing persistent fatigue.
When checking for past infection with EBV or CMV infection your healthcare practitioner will check for specific IgG antibodies to these two viruses.
What are IgG Antibodies?
IgG antibodies are produced by the immune system and provide the greatest antibody defence against invading pathogens. IgG levels rise during the initial stage of an infection, then stabilize as the acute illness resolves.
As a consequence, the IgG test is the most useful test to screen for past infection from a specific virus. Furthermore, you may be interested to know IgG antibodies to a particular virus remain in the blood for a lifetime.
Other Useful Blood Tests
- White cell count (WCC). Raised white blood cell levels indicate greater immune system activity due to an infection. As an example, an increased number of monocytes in the blood is seen in chronic infections. Monocytes are specialised white blood cells and a higher than normal reading helps confirm the presence of a chronic, active viral infection.
- Liver Function Test (LFT). Viruses can often affect the liver and for this reason your healthcare practitioner may also request a liver function test.
- Complete Thyroid Panel. A full test of thyroid function is done by checking thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4 (FT4), free T3 (FT3), reverse T3 (RT3), and thyroid antibodies.