Issue # 236   September 11, 2014

Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.

Today, Louise O’Connor discusses how an infection can look like hypothyroidism and which tests will help determine the proper treatment plan.




Viral Infections and Hypothyroidism

By Louise O’Connor


Uncovering a latent infection could offer a real solution to solving your thyroid disorder as chronic infections can easily masquerade as hypothyroidism.

There is a definite overlap between hypothyroid symptoms and those associated with chronic infections.


This article discusses viral infections which are a common cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome, aka myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)  is a disease of the immune system.

There is a vast amount of research to demonstrate infections are the most likely cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Testing for viral infections

There is no single test to diagnose a chronic viral infection, or even multiple viral infections. For this reason medical practitioners usually screen a patient for the main viruses which tend to cause long term problems. Your medical practitioner will also take into account your symptoms and health history.

Antibody tests are the most common way to check for viral infections

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. By doing specific antibody tests you can detect the presence of antibodies to a particular viral infection. When antibodies are discovered it will also reveal whether you were infected recently or in the past.

A stable positive result indicates past infection. In contrast, a high antibody load indicates recent infection, or reactivation of a past infection. The most consistent marker of progression of an infection within the body is a rising antibody titre. This term is used to describe the amount of antibodies that are measured within a blood sample.

Active viruses travel through the blood. These microscopic viruses are ‘non-living’ and they lack the ability to replicate on their own. To ensure their survival these viruses must take hold within the host cell. Left unchecked by the immune system they have the ability to integrate themselves into many cells of the body.

The two leading viruses that trigger chronic fatigue symptoms are Epstein – Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Medical practitioners often test for these two viruses when a patient has fatigue issues. These two viruses often target the central nervous system and liver causing problems.

The tests listed here will help diagnose an infection with the viruses most commonly associated with chronic fatigue symptoms.

  • 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

A viral infection can give rise to a diverse range of symptoms

A virus lodged within the cell continues to replicate and by integrating itself deep within the cell it avoids detection by the immune system. The immune system therefore does not make antibodies to viruses that have become hidden within organs and other tissues of the body.

This makes identifying a viral infection a real challenge. It is possible to have a significant intracellular infection, but still show relatively low antibody levels when you take an antibody test.

A chronic viral infection can cause a range of diverse symptoms depending on the original infection involved. When a virus takes hold in the central nervous system, or becomes localised in organs such as the liver or digestive tract it gives rise to a range of complaints such as fatigue, liver tenderness and neurological problems.

Your medical practitioner may also requested a white cell count (WCC) and liver function test (LFT).

Louise is the author of The Natural Thyroid Diet. The 4 week plan to living well, living vibrantly.


Always consult your doctor about health issues. Corri Peterson is not a medical professional and the content on should not be viewed as healthcare dignosis or treatment. It is provided for general information only and no action should be taken based solely on the the information within. Always consult your doctor about health issues when beginning any new diet, exercise or health program.