One of the most prevalent areas of medicine I have found to consistently have the worst doctor management and patient outcomes is thyroid health. This includes both conventional and naturopathic doctors, which is unfortunate as most patients turn to naturopathic medicine after conventional medicine has failed them. It’s also unfortunate become thyroid issues are rampant in our society and lack of proper evaluation and treatment leads to needless suffering and poor quality of life for these patients.
Before you get tested, you need to understand there are three major problems with conventional laboratory testing offered by most doctors today.
- Broad reference ranges – Standard lab reference ranges have been created by using people who are very sick and go to the doctor. This does not include people are are seemingly healthy, but just don’t feel right, which many cases of thyroid issues fall under. These reference ranges are far too broad to catch minor fluctuations in thyroid physiology.
- Non-standardized reference range – Not only is the reference range too broad, but it varies from lab to lab, and state to state. Therefore you can have a thyroid issue in one state, but not another.
- Insurance company influence – Doctors only run tests that are considered “medically necessary” by insurance companies. Therefore, doctors won’t often run a good thyroid panel because most insurance companies won’t pay for them. Additionally, most doctors will only run TSH and if that comes back within range, they tell you that you are healthy. However, TSH is only a very, very small part of thyroid physiology and it can even show up as normal even though you are clearly having hypo or hyper thyroid symptoms.
Without proper testing and a complete assessment, it’s almost impossible to get a clear picture of your thyroid health. Since hypothyroidism, or a low functioning thyroid is most prevalent, I’ll focus on that is this article.
Here are some of the more common hypothyroid symptoms:
- weight gain
- difficulty losing weight
- coarse, dry hair
- dry skin
- hair loss
- cold intolerance
- muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- memory loss
- abnormal menstrual cycles
- decreased libido
If you find yourself identifying with several of these common symptoms, you may want to have your thyroid health evaluated by a competent medical professional.
It’s almost impossible to get a clear picture of your thyroid health without proper testing.
Here are some steps you can take if you suspect you are have having thyroid issues:
- If you have many of the symptoms listed above, you may want to look deeper into your thyroid physiology with comprehensive lab testing.
- Get a comprehensive thyroid panel done (blood work up). A good panel includes TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies (TPO and anti-thyroglobulin).
- Have your results by a doctor who is educated in functional medicine and actually understands thyroid physiology.
Since I see the lack of proper treatment when it comes to thyroid health and how poorly educated in this area most doctors are, I’ve made it my mission to become an expert in this area so that women can get the help that they deserve when it comes to their hormones.