A new estimate reveals that thousands of Americans may be secretly suffering from an undiagnosed underactive thyroid. Why is it so hard to get your doctor to diagnose this common complaint, with its long list of symptoms? The answer may lie in the inexact nature of the blood test called TSH, commonly used to make the diagnosis.
In 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists formulated new guidelines for the interpretation of thyroid blood tests. They stated that, as traditionally interpreted, the tests left many patents undiagnosed. Although some doctors are aware of the new interpretation, many are not. This leaves many people being told by their. doctors that their thyroid function is normal.
Thyroid-caused Diseases Range Widely
The following paints a picture of what people with a thyroid problem notice about themselves. If a person’s thyroid has Thyroid become underactive, which is quite common in general, and even more in women over 40, he or she will frequently feel fatigued and may have gained weight, despite an unchanged diet. Other common symptoms are weakness, dry skin, puffiness of face and eyelids, feeling cold, a tendency to bruise more easily, depression and constipation. Loss of hair, even on the arms and legs and under the arms, means you should think thyroid. Some patients also report hoarseness and some difficulty swallowing.
The effect on the body of the thyroid hormone involves so many functions that many other symptoms may also occur. Menstrual problems such as irregular periods, PMS, or infertility may be a consequence of hypothyroidism. Is your cholesterol elevated? This too, may be a sign of an underactive thyroid. Before taking medication to control cholesterol, it may be wise to consider whether it might relate to an underactive thyroid.
Natural Solutions are Available
For some cases of borderline hypothyroidism, a nutritional and herbal approach, utilizing the mineral iodine and the amino acid tyrosine, may be beneficial, without resorting to actual thyroid hormone therapy. Kelp contains iodine and is utilized in nutritional formulas that support the thyroid. Such formulas may also contain Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc, all of which are associated with optimizing thyroid hormone function.
The herb coleus helps the body to utilize the mineral iodine so that it is properly taken up in the thyroid gland, promoting hormone Gland synthesis. Another herb with a long history of use is called Ashwaganda. Animal studies have demonstrated its ability to help raise the level of thyroid hormones. Along with the importance of providing the nutritional building blocks necessary for thyroid hormone production, there is also the issue of the thyroid’s “receptors” that allow the thyroid hormone to actually produce it actively within a cell. The herbs Rosemary and Sage assist this part of the complex process by which the hormones act on the body.
Avoiding the Disruptors
Finally, along with these non-pharmacologic approaches, it is important to remember that endocrine “disruptors” environmental pollutants, heavy metals and a range of substances may hamper hormone function. Avoiding exposures and detoxifying from excess esposures may be a key element in optimizing thyroid function.
In summary, it is important that the underdiagnosis of hypothyroidism be understood and acted upon. Since thyroid hormone plays a part in overall body metabolism and so many functions of the body, there is a very wide array of signs and symptoms that may alert a patient to the possibility that this may be an important disorder that should be checked by their doctors. For a person to be properly empowered so that they may act upon this knowledge, it should be recognized that many doctors, if they rely entirely on the usual screening test for hypothyroidism (the TSH blood test), may tell their patients they do not have a thyroid problem, based on those test results being within the normal range. In such a case, the patient must be assertive enough to find a physician who recognizes the latest developments in the diagnosis and treatment of this problem.
Henry C. Sobo, M.D. Optimal Health Medical I I 1 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT. 203-348-8805 – www.drsobo.com