Patients, especially women, have a real sense about their thyroid glands. Maybe they’ve chatted with each other, read something online, even had an energy intuitive look them squarely in the eye, look deeply at their throat chakra and say… “Honey, it’s your thyroid.”. Perhaps they’re already taking thyroid replacement tablets and “know” a dose adjustment is needed, or a switch from the synthetic to the natural product might help.
Too often they hear from their “Health Care Provider” (ironic quotes intentional), “Your TSH is in normal range. It’s not your thyroid. Maybe you’re depressed.”
In the rapidly disappearing final forty seconds of your quarter-hour office visit with the endocrinologist that you scheduled months ago as you try to get your thoughts together, you’d like to explain that you want more than your TSH measured. You yourself know how the TSH is a pituitary hormone, not a thyroid hormone at all. You’d like your levels of all your thyroid hormones and your thyroid antibodies to check for Hashimoto’s Disease. And while you’re at it, “please check my reverse T3.” This might pick up why you’re tired if the other thyroid tests are normal. But her eyes, fatigued from staring absently at you are now glossing over. She’s rising from her chair, and in a flick of her finger, closes her laptop, her brain and your case.
Keep in mind that the thyroid gland acts like the gas pedal of your car. Put your car in neutral, step on the pedal too hard, everything moves too fast: hyperthyroidism. Take your foot off the pedal, set the idle too low, the motor slows, and slows, hypothyroidism. Every single cell in your body has a receptor site for thyroid hormone. This is why thyroid issues affect such diverse areas as hair, skin, brain, heart, bone, thinking, weight, digestion, etc., etc.
Main Thyroid Symptoms (Brace Yourself for This!!):
- Fatigue: “Tired all the time”, “lost my vitality”, “my get up and go, got up and went”.
- Weight gain: “I am eating less and less and gaining more and more.”, “Tired as I am, I do exercise but nothing happens.”
- Skin/hair changes: “My skin is really dry, my eyebrows are disappearing, my hair is falling out in chunks.”
- Cold intolerance: “I always feel cold. I wear socks to bed. My bed partner says my feet are like ice cubes. Even during last summer’s heatwave, I felt chilly.”
- Constipation: two or three times a week at best.
- Changes in your period: “It’s shorter, occasionally irregular.”
- Mental sluggishness: “I know something’s wrong. I don’t feel as sharp as I should be.”
- Mood swings: “Unpredictable. I can be awful.”
- Infertility: “We had two kids, no fertility problem. Now we can’t seem to have a third.”
- Libido: “Libido? What’s that?”
- High cholesterol: “My doctor is really pushing statins.”
- Depression: “Normally I’m not a depressed person. Now my doctor is pushing Zoloft.”
- Headaches: “I had migraines in my 20’s. I thought they were gone. Now they’re back with a vengeance.”
- Bloating: “I eat a meal, and my stomach starts swelling like I’m pregnant.”
- Heartburn: “If I’m not bloated, I have GERD. Sometimes both.”
- Widespread muscle aching: “The rheumatologist thinks I have fibromyalgia.”
- Sense of tightness in your throat: “Something doesn’t feel right, especially when I wear a turtleneck.”
TSH: The “official” TSH is 0.4 mU/L to 5.0 mU/L, with “high” TSH diagnosing “low thyroid function.” Most HCPs (health care providers) will tell their patients any number in this range eliminates a thyroid problem. Here at WholeHealth Chicago, we use 2.5 mU/L as the upper limit of normal.
Free T3, Free T4, thyroid antibodies, reverse T3: we will always measure these when you present with clinical symptoms suggestive of under-active thyroid.
Measuring your basal body temperature can frequently diagnose subtle under-active thyroid. If your basal temperature is 97.6 or lower, we will usually start you on a small dose of natural thyroid replacement (NP Thyroid), which is a mixture of the two thyroid hormones T4 and T3.
Although most patients do fine on synthetic T4 (Synthroid/Levoxyl) or natural thyroid (NP Thyroid/Armour), some require the addition of pure T3 (liothyronine/Cytomel). The goal of correct dosing are the words, “I am feeling great!”.
One of the most erroneous health decisions many patients inadvertently make is to switch from iodized salt (Morton’s) to one of the allegedly “healthy” salts (Himalayan, Mediterranean), which have no iodine. Without iodine, you will ever so slowly actually develop hypothyroidism (unless you eat in a lot of restaurants or take iodine supplements).
If your factory-installed intuition is screaming, “Get your thyroid checked!” or if your bedmate/cat is avoiding you because you’re no longer warm and cuddly, call any of our offices or go online and schedule with any of our practitioners.
David Edelberg, MD