Almost everyday I see patients in my office who have a thyroid dysfunction that has gone undiagnosed. This leaves the patient with many symptoms, such as:
1. Difficulty losing weight
6. High Blood Pressure
7. Dry skin
8. Hair loss
9. Muscle or joint pain
11. Heart palpitations
12. Menstrual disorders
14. Impaired memory
15. High cholesterol
20. Cold hands and feet
Many doctors, today, use only the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test (TSH) to evaluate thyroid dysfunction. There is much in the medical literature that indicates that TSH is not an accurate test to find all thyroid problems. This is because the thyroid gland works on a feedback mechanism that turns itself off when enough thyroid is available. It is commonly thought that TSH will be elevated if there is not enough thyroid available. However, the measurement used has changed through the years.
In the recent past the “normal” range for TSH was 0.5-5.5. If your TSH fell in this range, you might have been told that your thyroid is working fine. However, in the past couple of years, the “normal” range was changed by the endocrinologists to be 0.3-3.3. If your TSH was “4” a few years ago, you might have been told your thyroid was normal, but today you would be considered to be Hypothyroid.
Rather than just using one single lab test, TSH, to diagnose someone with Hypothyroidism, many factors must be taken into consideration. The symptoms are the most important factor. I was taught in medical school to treat the patient, not just a lab value. The problem with numbers is that they do not always reflect the biochemical individuality of each person.
If several of the above symptoms are present, thyroid blood work is recommended. The blood work should include TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Total T3, total T4 and thyroid antibodies. TSH only measures T4, yet T3 is actually the active form of thyroid. The doctor who does not test T3 is assuming everyone’s body is working correctly and converting T4 to T3. That does not always happen.
If the lab tests are abnormal, treatment should follow. If the lab work is normal, a clinical trial of thyroid medication may still be called for due to biochemical individuality. Once treatment has begun, periodic thyroid testing is necessary.
Thyroid dysfunction appears to be increasing in numbers. I think one of the reasons for this is because of the addition of fluoride, and chloride in the water system and bromide in baked goods. Iodine is needed for the thyroid to work properly. Fluoride, bromide and chloride can block the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland, preventing the thyroid gland from working properly.
If the thyroid gland is not working properly, everything in the body can be affected adversely. The thyroid gland is referred to as “The Master Gland”. It is very important for it to work as it should. If you have several of the symptoms above and have not had a full thyroid evaluation, you may not be receiving the appropriate treatment.
The most common incorrect diagnosis I see for Hypothyroidism, is depression. It is easy and cheap to diagnose depression. It doesn’t take any lab tests. However, if your thyroid is not working correctly, one of the most common symptoms women have is feeling depressed. Feeling depressed, doesn’t mean you have depression and it could mean you have undiagnosed Hypothyroidism.
Make sure your doctor does an appropriate evaluation and doesn’t simply listen to your symptoms and just hand you a prescription.