Yersinia and Hashimoto's
Although I have tested negative for antithyroid antibodies, there is no known cause for subclinical hypothyroidism. There is some speculation that viral infections can attack the thyroid and leave it under-active. Some doctors also postulate that there may have been a period of previous autoimmune attack from which the patient has recovered, that has caused permanent damage to the thyroid.
There’s something of an interesting Yersinia connection going on.
I stumbled across a factoid while I was researching Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Though there is no known cause for Hashimoto’s, sometimes autoimmune diseases can be blamed on bacterial infections. Yersinia presents surface proteins to the immune system that are very, very similar to the proteins attacked by the autoimmune process involved in Hashimoto’s. The theory is that infection with Yersinia can confuse the immune system into attacking the thyroid.
Whilst perusing the information about Yersinia, I was horribly struck by the symptoms. My partner and I had food poisoning a few months ago. I don’t know when exactly, I think it may have been just before Christmas. We had a slight miscommunication about the cleanliness of a chopping board, which had been used to cut raw chicken. This resulted in a pretty unpleasant stomach bug with a distinctive characteristic: lower right quadrant pain that resembled appendicitis. Yersinia infections are frequently mistaken for appendicitis. I remember staying in bed for a few days, complaining of how I felt like I had appendicitis because of this persistent pain and tenderness in the right side of my belly.
So I spoke to my Dad and he mentioned that during the fibromyalgia diagnosis process, only one interesting result had been found: he, but not my mum, had been positive for Yersinia antibodies.
It happened like this: we went on holiday to Wales in the caravan with the dogs, and had a great couple of weeks. Immediately that we returned from our holiday we came down with a really nasty sickness and diarrhoea bug. We all felt washed out afterwards. A month later we were really complaining of still feeling ill. It seemed like we were getting worse rather than better. New and unpleasant symptoms started emerging, for example, sensitive skin patches.
During the diagnosis process, my parents recounted our holiday. We had been near a nuclear power station, and we had gone walking in the woods with the dogs. Radiation sickness jokes aside, the doctors freaked and had us tested for lyme disease in case we had picked up ticks in the woods. We were negative. The only thing that came back positive was my Dad’s test for Yersinia.
My Dad is convinced that the bug we had wasn’t Yersinia. He remembers having a Yersinia-like stomach bug a couple of years before, something he says rumbled on for several months, with that distinct appendicitis-like pain. It was however, a very nasty bug.
Still, it’s a very interesting and spooky connection, n’est ce pas?