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I Think it’s My Thyroid!
I hear those words in my practice multiple times on a daily basis. The constellation of Thyroid problem symptoms attributable to a dysfunctional thyroid could fill this page. Fatigue and weight gain are the two most common that come up with my patients, and are often the reasons treatment is sought out in the first place. Others, such as constipation, dry skin and/or eyes, feeling cold all the time, and hair thinning, are often elucidated after more intense questioning. Many more subtle symptoms are less often recognized by patients prior to testing and treatment – poor concentration, difficulty with memory, feeling like one is “in a mental fog”, trouble sleeping, and trouble waking up in the morning are just a few. Once treatment is initiated, many symptoms improve almost immediately.
Patients often come to me having been placed on an antidepressant for their symptoms. They feel many of the thyroid problem symptoms of depression, and are often diagnosed as such since, in their words, “all their tests were normal”. The thyroid may be the problem here, even when thyroid tests are in the normal ranges. This is what is referred to as “Subclinical Hypothyroidism”. Unfortunately, it can be easily missed if the tests are interpreted incorrectly, resulting in the addition of medications which can have a whole bunch of unnecessary side effects.
Interpretation of thyroid tests is important. What many doctors forget is the simple fact that we are not treating the laboratory results, we are treating the patient – you. If you aren’t feeling well, it doesn’t really matter that the labs are normal. So, what is the real problem?
What I look for – and what all doctors should be looking for – is a result that is “optimal”. Optimal is exactly as it sounds – it means that your level is the best result for you. Often, with the thyroid, that means having thyroid hormone levels toward the upper limit of what the lab considers normal. Having a fixed range of normal (which is rather wide for most labs) means that there will be some people with levels almost twice as high as others, yet both are considered normal.
If you are suffering from Thyroid problems or are unsure, contact us. We can help.