How to know if your thyroid is causing your symptoms

Thyroid testing is an insufficient mode of diagnosis in over 50% of hypothyroid cases. How can I make such a bold statement? The fact is, in conventional medicine, thyroid testing consists of checking for either TSH alone, or TSH and T4. TSH is a hormone that is released by your brain. Not your thyroid. And T4 is considered the inactive of the thyroid hormones. There are two problems with only checking these two numbers.

Thyroid tests that are typically ordered at your doctors office:

  1. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): This marker is released by your anterior pituitary gland. This gland is located in your brain. The normals for TSH are different for different labs, and which kind of doctor is interpreting your condition. Lab normals are determined by the testing population. The testing population needs to have 2.5% of people fall outside the normal range above and below for a total of 5%. This means that 95% of people fall in the normal range. The problem with this is that if we test on a sick population – and let’s face it, the general health of our population is not improving – we can have a lot of “sick” people who fall inside the normal range. And this means that these people don’t get diagnosed. They get put on antidepressants, birth control pills, statins and blood pressure medications when their issue may just be that their thyroid is not working optimally. TSH may also be artificially low or high depending on the presence of brain inflammation. Only checking TSH is like looking through a keyhole and thinking you know what the entire room looks like. It just doesn’t tell us enough.
  1. T4 (Total amount of thyroxine): The normal proportions of T4 produced by the thyroid  are debatable. Different sources suggest anywhere between 80-95% percent are normal. The rest is T3 – the active thyroid hormone. The problem with only checking for total T4 is that it does not account for the percentage bound to proteins making it unavailable to be converted to free T3 – the active thyroid hormone. It also does not account for under conversion to T3, which can only be determined by measuring total and free T3.

Here are the thyroid tests that should be ordered:

  1. TSH
  2. Total T4
  3. Total T3
  4. Free T4
  5. Free T3
  6. Reverse T3
  7. T3 Uptake
  8. Anti-Thyroglobulin
  9. Anti-TPO

I always do this complete panel on new patients. We need to get a baseline to see where you stand. I even do a complete thyroid panel on new patients if they are already being seen by an endocrinologist or are already on thyroid hormones. Every cell in the body has thyroid hormone receptors. This means that just about any symptom that you have could be caused by an improperly working thyroid (or the other three places in the body that make thyroid hormones work properly). 

Test the whole thyroid to avoid unnecessary prescriptions

Often symptoms that are actually caused by suboptimal thyroid function may be already being treated with other drugs unnecessarily.

Common thyroid symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety/Panic Attacks
  • Poor Memory
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Hoarse Voice
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Constipation
  • Brittle Nails
  • Painful Periods
  • PMS
  • Joint/Muscle Pain
  • Morning Stiffness
  • Easy Bruising
  • Fluid Retention
  • Low Libido
  • Infertility
  • Poor Circulation
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Headaches/Migraine HA
  • Weight Gain
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Excessive Ear Wax
  • Dizziness/Vertigo
  • Hair Loss
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Agitation/Irritability
  • Rough, Dry Skin
  • Low/High Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Sweating

The bottom line is that you need complete testing AND a view of possible thyroid symptoms to determine the need for treatment and whether other symptoms could be getting blamed on the wrong source. Watch this video on Thyroid  – just as relevant today as it was when I made it.

WANS – If you have,or suspect you have hypothyroidism take a look!

Read my next blog on 3 other structures that could be causing your hypothyroidism (or subclinical hypothyroidism). If thyroid is a topic of interest, you also might want to read this, 6 Reasons your thyroid might stop you from losing weight