Millions of people in the U.S. have a diagnosed thyroid condition. On the other side of the coin, there are millions of people who exhibit symptoms of a thyroid disorder but aren’t clinically diagnosed. Basically, this means that there are potentially millions of people suffering with symptoms of fatigue, hair loss, depression, trouble managing weight, cold extremities, etc., but aren’t being given any answers as to why all these symptoms are occurring. So what do you do when your blood tests and doctors’ visits say that everything is normal and there’s nothing wrong with you, but you continue to express the symptoms of a thyroid disorder?
The answer is……digging a little deeper.
Of all the thyroid disorders, hypothyroidism is the most common. It is typically addressed after a person goes to their doctor exhibiting the characteristic symptoms previously listed above. Something just isn’t right, and after reviewing patient history, blood work is typically the next step. Within that blood work, a thyroid panel is ordered consisting of four or five markers. Of those four or five markers, TSH is the buzzword familiar to most patients, as well as the gold standard used by physicians to rule in or rule out thyroid dysfunction. This is determined by looking at the TSH value to see whether it is in the standard laboratory range value of 0.5-5.5 mU/L. If the TSH value is outside this range (above 5.5 for hypothyroidism), hormone replacement is prescribed (usually levothyroxin, armour, synthroid, etc.). Depending on how far down the road a person’s condition has progressed, the hormone replacement therapy can be helpful in the short term and harmful in the long term, but this is a discussion for another time. The main concern for this discussion is “what if the blood tests come back normal”?
It takes time to develop into a “condition”. It doesn’t just happen that one day you’re fine, and the next day you have a condition. It takes time to develop. This can be said for numerous metabolic disorders. Since hypothyroid is the topic at hand, TSH is what we’ll look at.
0.5-5.5 mU/L is the Lab range, but 1.8-3.0 is the “functional” range for TSH. Once TSH is outside this functional range of 1.8-3.0, things start to go haywire. The problem is that the functional range is not what TSH is measured against when you go to the hospital. Even if it was, it wouldn’t change the treatment of thyroid hormone replacement. This is why so many people around the country are asking the same question, “Why do I feel terrible when my blood tests are coming back normal?”
If you are able to catch your TSH level when it is just outside the functional value, there are many natural ways to reverse the process before it becomes a condition. In a majority of cases, the immune system is directly involved in the hypothyroid symptoms. Getting some sun and taking a good emulsified vitamin D supplement, Omega-3 fish oil and an anti-oxidant is a great place to start.
Again the key is to dig deeper. Ask to see your TSH results. Question the lab range your TSH is being compared to. Seek alternative means or a second opinion. In the end, it’s your health, not your primary physician’s health, or your endocrinologist’s health. It’s YOUR health.