I’ve decided I absolutely don’t care because holy smokes someone needs to be.
Here’s the deal.
I run into someone who I suspect may have a thyroid issue AT LEAST twice a week. AT LEAST. They’re tired. Run down. Gaining weight. Just generally feel bad.
I’ve lost count of the number of people I know or met that have any kind of issue with their thyroid at all and they say, “oh I have that. I just take a little pill and I’m fine” and yet they are tired, run down, gaining weight, just generally feel bad. They have no idea what they’re TSH number is. They have no idea what it SHOULD be. They have never questioned their doctor when he says “it’s normal” on what the heck…”normal” is. I don’t blame the patient here. I blame the medical community and the lack of education on this illness that affects SO much of the population.
Your THYROID runs EVERYTHING.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which controls virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body.
Think of your thyroid as a car engine that sets the pace at which your body operates. An engine produces the required amount of energy for a car to move at a certain speed. In the same way, your thyroid gland manufactures enough thyroid hormone to prompt your cells to perform a function at a certain rate.
Just as a car can’t produce energy without gas, your thyroid needs fuel to produce thyroid hormone. This fuel is iodine. Iodine comes from your diet and is found in iodized table salt, seafood, bread and milk. ~source
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. ~source
Here’s what I’ve learned. I am NOT a doctor. I am not in the medical community. I am a patient. I have been a thyroid patient since MT was about 5 years old (give or take, I’d have to research) and he’s 19. I have seen six doctors and three specialists and I didn’t get diagnosed completely until two and a half years ago April.
- Most common symptoms of Hypothyroidism are the following:
lumps in throat (such as a goiter)
heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
- Most people blame these symptoms on being busy, the climate in the area, diet, stress and just…”life”. Well, I’ve felt lousy but it’s just…life, you know? I’ve been so busy.
- If you find you have even a few of these symptoms, if you are normally healthy and energetic and find yourself needing a nap and gaining weight and just generally feeling rundown…see your doctor. I’m not suggesting one symptom…see your doctor. I’m suggesting you feel “off”…you see your doctor. Take a real assessment and say, hey. Maybe for real it’s not just life. Maybe it’s actually something else going on. Ask for a blood test and ask for a full thyroid panel. This includes a TSH test, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.
- This is important. March 2003, the endocrinology community suggested that the normal range is narrowed and that a new “normal range” of .3 to 3.0 be adopted. ~ source
Every lab is different and will have its own scale. Some labs will go from .3 to 3 and some will go from .5 to 5.5. You need to find out what your lab is using so you can properly understand your results. When you get your results, if your doctor says “your test results were normal” you need to ask what they were. He may say you’re low or you’re high but normal is very common. Ask what they were! Ask for the numbers. Don’t accept “normal”. Normal is subjective depending on how they read the results and what scale they are using. If they are using the 5.5 scale then your results could fall as high as 4 or 4.5 and the doctor would say “normal”. Most people feel healthiest with results around 1 or 2. Accepting “normal” without knowing and understanding your results and the scale they are using could be keeping you from feeling better and could also be leading to unnecessary tests. I know I had at least one doctor that continued to want to test me for many other issues when it really was just my thyroid. Costly tests I didn’t need. My own research is what finally led to my diagnosis of Hypothyroidism and Celiac disease. You have to be your own advocate. I personally feel better at around .5 so when I’m at 1.5 I’m sleeping and putting things in the freezer that don’t belong there and dropping words and …well…really wrong things. Sean will say to me..”um…are your numbers off?” Well, I will get tested because they probably are.
- Once you get your results and you realize you have to push for more, you’ll need to take your own reputable research with you. I DO google but I only take reputable websites with me and I take at least three. I have plenty of evidence to back up my claim and I don’t start my conversation with “so I was googling”. I start with, “I’ve done research and I’ve found evidence the scale is …” and you go from there. I realize it sounds the same but the doctor is already rolling his eyes that you’ve been on the internet.
I do my best to not sound internet crazy but I’m also not going to be dismissed because I do my research online. Research is research. If he won’t listen to you or he won’t refer you to an ENT, get a second opinion. Don’t ask. Politely STATE. Tell him you’ve done research and according to your research your numbers put your thyroid at too high on the optimal scale and this could definitely be contributing to your symptoms. If he doesn’t agree, you’d like to be referred to an ENT please.
- If he continues to not work with you, get a second opinion. Your doctor should be someone who works with you. He works with you, your lab results and how you feel. It’s all a combination. My doctor says I know my own body and she thinks I’m really sensitive to how my body works so she trusts me when I say…something is off. If I randomly call her and ask for a blood test she gives me one. That’s what you’re looking for. A doctor who will work with you.
- Hopefully he’ll work with you and if he does the medication can take two to six weeks before you start feeling better. It’s a slow process but you’ll get there. You should be retested six weeks after you start your meds to make sure you are at a good new number and if you aren’t, he’ll re-adjust the meds. If you are, you are good to go. You should be set for the next six months and for the first two years you should be re-tested every six months.
- One more thing...if you test positive for Hypothyroidism you need to be tested for Celiac. It’s a simple blood test and relatively inexpensive. The incidence of Celiac Disease related to Hypothyroidism is VERY high and if left untreated can cause a list of unpleasant illnesses not the least of which is cancer. Take the test. Take care of you. Be educated.
Feel free to ask me any questions and if this is confusing at all (it is a lot of information and a very long post) I can answer any and all questions either in the comments or in my email at email@example.com. Again, not a medical expert. Just a patient who has been through this.