Thyroid Misconceptions:

Sorting out the truth of Thyroid disease

There has been a consistent move within the medical community to discourage patients from seeking out the truth regarding their potentially malfunctioning thyroid gland.

There is a prevalent myth that goes something like this: We tested your thyroid which means your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) perhaps even your T4 levels and you are fine !

Bull…This is one of the most ridiculous statements made in medicine.
Only after a comprehensive evaluation of all parameters and with much more appropriate levels than are commonly considered “normal”, should you accept this statement.

As many of you know there are a number of indicators that suggest a thyroid deficiency. 

Do you fit into any of these categories ?:

1. By far the most common symptom is fatigue. 

2. Your skin can become dry, cold, rough and scaly. Do you apply lotion daily ?

3. Hair tends to becomes coarse, brittle and grows slowly or may fall out excessively. Have you heard comments from you hairdresser ? 

4. Do you wonder how come you don’t sweat or your perspiration may be decreased or even absent, even during heavy exercise and hot weather ?

5. Constipation, that is resistant to magnesium supplementation and other mild laxatives, is a common symptom.

6. Are you experiencing increased sensitivity to cold ? Do you feel chilly in rooms of normal temperature and find yourself dressing with additional layers ? 

7. Fighting the battle of the bulge ? Despite rigid adherence to a low carbohydrate, low fat diet, your weight stays the same? This seems to be a very common finding, especially in women. 

8. By the third year of medical school you are taught to question thyroid function if depression is present, BEFORE prescribing any other forms of treatment. Are you depressed ?

9. Muscle weakness or joint pains can be other common symptoms.

Articles of Interest:

There are a number of well written articles regarding the issues of laboratory accuracy and the thyroid. “Thyroid Function Testing: Dealing with Interpretation Difficulties” is very enlightening and an in depth paper. If you wish for a simple explanation of both the thyroid function and laboratory testing consider,Functional Thyroid Disorders, Part 1 by Dr. Brady

If your confusion results from being told about your TSH response, consider this well written article entitled 15 Reasons Why Your TSH May Be Fluctuating

There is an excellent web site for patients, by Mary Shomon, at Thyroid Disease at about.com.

For a more formal textbook discussion of thyroid testing consider this link, “Evaluation of Thyroid Function in Health and Disease Revised 21 September 2000 by Jayne Franklyn and Michael Shephard”.

Books:

The classic book on thyroid treatment and testing was authored by Dr. Broda Barnes, in 1976. The title is “Hypothyroidism , the Unsuspected Illness”. This publication popularized the use of the basal body temperature as an inexpensive method of determining the potential of a hypothyroid condition.

Clinically I find that this non-toxic, easy to perform test is a must, as a starting point, coupled with a good history and physical examination and of course a comprehensive blood analysis.

The test consist of taking your temperature , BEFORE getting out of bed, under your arm and writing down a week or more of your results. There are some interfering potentials, but this is a simple screening, at no cost. Even an inexpensive electronic thermometer will be adequate.

A newer book to consult is Mary Shomon’s “Living well with Hypothyroidism”.

Finally a number of my patients have presented with the “The Thyroid Sourcebook”, now in its third edition. I would caution that some of the advice is ill placed, clearly dated and inaccurate.

As an example, the author Sara Rosenthal suggests one find a specialist before determining your disorder. I would contend that she has a serious misunderstanding in regards to the use of natural thyroid medications. She dismisses them in a single paragraph, as being inconsistent. This is not true and was a myth as part of an advertisement campaign by the makers of the synthetic competing product. The FDA has strict rules regarding the equivalence and deviations from accepted labeling that is consistently 10% above or below stated amounts, regardless of which product we discuss.

Additionally she is not understanding the differences in physicians, their approaches or use of different medications and combinations. If you choose to use this book, focus on the well done chapters 1-9 and 11, regarding the thyroid gland and the diseases.

If your current physicians continues the line, “there are no bioequivalent thyroid medications, except synthroid”, show him/her this article. If this is not enough to sway your thinking, consider the correlation between cardiovascular health and your thyroid function. There is a must read article entitled , “Thyroid Dysfunction Linked to Elevated Cardiac Risk“. Additionally a direct correlation exists between cancer risks and thyroid dysfunction. Read about this issue at About.com.

After 31 years of changing many patients prescriptions from the classic thyroxine, AKA Synthroid, to the natural or combination prescriptive and non-prescriptive products, it continues to amuse me how conventional medicine ignores clear credible evidence that we need additional testing and treatment for this very prevalent condition.

As a rule NEVER settle for a TSH or total or free T4 test/s. These tests tends to be misleading either alone or together. Newer panels incorporate additional parameters. We use a number of laboratories that have a more comprehensive approach to both the testing and the reporting. This description of thyroid testing will allow you to get a better idea of this complicated issue.

With all these parameters to consider, I think it’s essential for anyone with any and or all of the initial symptoms, to have a complete evaluation. At the Center of Health™, we employ all of the mentioned tests, when appropriate.

Our goal is to balance your hormones and maximize your health.

Call us: 503.688.9510

Copyright Center of Health™ 2/2014  For permission to reprint this article, please contact the author.

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Dr. Kadish is an unusual physician often referred to as a "doctor detective". His expertise is the evaluation and treatment of complex disorders, typically after other physicians have been stumped, is renowned. He provides care for all family members and has additional training in autistic spectrum disorders and chronic complex diseases.