Living with thyroid issues is an experience many people are familiar with. However, what many people do not know is that common thyroid labs are not telling you everything you need to know about your thyroid.
The standard thyroid screening often isn’t enough to identify functional issues with your thyroid.
When you come to a doctor with hypothyroid symptoms, many doctors will likely order a standard thyroid panel. This panel is commonly used to help diagnose what thyroid issues you may have. Unfortunately, the standard thyroid panel is problematic and as a result, misdiagnosis has become very common when it comes to the treatment of hypothyroidism. The standard thyroid panel is problematic because it usually includes only TSH and T4. TSH and T4 do not paint the entire picture. Many cases of hypothyroidism are missed because they do not fit within these flawed parameters. Your clinician must also assess other markers such as free T4, free T3, and reverse T3 (rT3) in order to see everything that may be affecting your thyroid.
Knowing if you have elevated thyroid antibodies is important.
When trying to accurately treat your hypothyroidism, it’s also important to know if your thyroid antibodies are elevated. When presented with symptoms of a thyroid disorder, your doctor should order antibody tests. It is common for thyroid issues to be the result of an autoimmune condition. An autoimmune condition is when your body produces antibodies that interfere with your thyroid hormone-making process. This type of condition causes the thyroid to produce too much or too little hormone. However, many people are not aware they may have an autoimmune condition without an antibody test. An antibody test is done with a blood sample, and can help determine the cause of your condition by measuring the amount of antibodies per milliliter of blood. It is important to understand that your treatment is not determined by your antibody levels but rather by your symptoms. If you do not have symptoms of an autoimmune condition, you may not need treatment.
Your thyroid hormones may be just fine, but can you use them properly?
Did you know your body can be resistant to thyroid hormone? In this case, your thyroid hormones are present, but you can’t use them. Resistance to thyroid hormone is a condition in which some of your body tissues do not respond normally to the thyroid hormones and they are unable to get into certain cells where they are needed. In these cells, there are two types of thyroid hormone receptors: alpha and beta. Resistance to thyroid hormone is usually caused by a genetic mutation that results in a defective beta receptor, preventing the hormone from bringing about their usual effects. The symptoms you may notice with thyroid hormone resistance can vary depending on the severity of the abnormality with the thyroid hormone receptor. Raised cholesterol levels, feeling tired, and a tendency to be overweight, are symptoms of an under-active thyroid. Symptoms such as tiredness, increased sweating and weight loss are signs of an over-active thyroid. Unfortunately, at this time there is no method for testing the function of thyroid hormone receptors on cells. This is a tool that would be extremely helpful in these situations.
A complete functional approach to thyroid assessment is key
Accurately diagnosing your thyroid is absolutely not an easy process. If you believe your healthcare provider is not taking the proper action to properly treat your thyroid condition, there are methods you can request. Have your healthcare provider look at your other markers like free T4, free T3, and reverse T3 (rT3). Also, an antibody test can help get a more accurate picture of what autoimmune condition could be effecting your thyroid. Holding your healthcare provider accountable, and doing the proper research to keep yourself educated is important for maintaining your health as well as you can.
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