Depressionâ¦ Chronic Fatigueâ¦ Weight Gainâ¦ Hair Lossâ¦ Low Sex Driveâ¦
âAre You Thyroid Deficient?â
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Hope... thatâs what my patients are looking for.
The hope that someone will finally tell them whatâs wrong â and what they can do to help heal their shopping bag full of complaints and conditions.
- Weight gain, no matter how strict a diet is tried.
- Constant fatigue, morning, noon and night. Even with 8 hours or more of sleep.
- Depression, coming out of nowhere. Itâs like looking at a rainbow, and suddenly seeing only grey.
- Brain fog, that no amount of coffee or souped-up caffeine drinks can dissipate.
Then there are the host of other symptomsâ¦constipation, always feeling cold, memory loss, low libido, abnormal cholesterol, vanishing eyebrows, hair loss, coarse hair, anxiety, dry skin, brittle nails, muscle cramps or aches, and hoarseness.
These patients Iâm seeing are at the end of their rope. Almost to a one, theyâve already been to multiple physicians and specialists. Theyâve had test after test, and each time the results â and the diagnosis - are the same.
âYour tests all say everything is normal. We canât find anything physically wrong with you.â
Then comes the clincherâ¦ the catch-all their doctors use when they have no clue what the answer is:
âItâs all in your head. Iâll write you a prescription for a mild anti-depressant.â
Which is probably the last thing these patients need! The anti-depressants only make matters worse, since these people arenât clinically depressed. Theyâre suffering â and no one can tell them why.
Medical Complaints On The Rise
Hereâs the bad news: All the conditions I mentioned earlier have been steadily increasing over the years. Where maybe I would get one or two patients a week with these symptoms, itâs now a steady stream of both men and women trying to find out whatâs wrong with them.
Iâm their last resort. They often bring me test results from other doctors, as if to prove theyâve been trying everything they can. Theyâre convinced they have some strange, untraceable disease, and are steeling themselves for the worst.
But now the good news... most of these cases are in fact easily treatable.
All the above symptoms, the lethargy, the lack of sex drive, the weight gain, the depressionâ¦ the host of debilitating conditions, all of them can stem from an under active thyroid, or hypothyroidism in medical talk.
I look at their charts, then order a specific test for thyroid function. Iâm already pretty sure what Iâll find. Their thyroid is barely functioning.
Why âNormalâ Is Anything But...
Thereâs a dirty little secret most doctors donât discuss with their patients.
When medical tests are done, anything within a wide range of results is considered normal. Your thyroid could be limping along at 20% efficiency, yet for the tests, thatâs fine. Since the tests say youâre OK, the doctor just repeats what he reads off the charts.
Well, the simple fact of the matter is this - those results arenât normal. Your body is deficient, and you have all the classic symptoms to prove it. You know in your heart you donât need a doctor who merely reads reports and treats from lab tests, you need a physician who actually listens to and treats people - just like you.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A THYROID CONDITION?
Diagnosing thyroid disorder is based mainly on symptoms and the blood levels of your thyroid hormones is used for confirmation. Neither the symptoms nor the blood tests are 100% accurate for diagnosing a low or high thyroid condition.
Used together however, we can diagnose with about 98% accuracy. New research has shown that many more people have Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) than previously believed.
|High/Low Thyroid Levels|
|Symptoms of LOW thyroid levels:||Symptoms of HIGH thyroid levels:|
|Dry coarse hair||Hair loss|
|Hair loss||Difficulty sleeping|
|Puffy eyes||Rapid or pounding heart beat|
|Aching joints||Increased sweating|
|Enlarged thyroid gland||Heat intolerance|
|Slow heart beat||Weight loss (increased appetite)|
|Cold intolerance||Frequent bowel movements|
|Brittle nails||Warm moist palms|
|Heavy and/or irregular periods||Shaking fingers (tremor)|
|Decreased appetite||Scant periods|
|High blood pressure||Enlarged thyroid|
Note: When there are symptoms from both columns, there is usually a low thyroid and an adrenal problem. You would fit into this category if you are both tired and "wired."
As recently as 50 years ago, it was a known scientific âfactâ that you could take as much thyroid hormone as you needed to overcome symptoms. Because thyroid hormone is a ânatural hormoneâ it was believed to be safe at any dose and there were no research studies disapproving this. It wasnât until the 1980âs that research revealed high doses of thyroid hormone caused osteoporosis.
Almost overnight thyroid hormone became âdangerousâ and the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. There were still no good tests for measuring thyroid blood levels, and fear of treatment became dogma. When reliable tests finally became available, many people with untreated hypothyroidism were still being included in the ânormalâ range.
To further complicate things, some people are more sensitive to thyroid hormone. However, if the lab tests come back ânormalâ and they have no symptoms, thyroid treatment doesnât even enter the picture.
This further taints the ânormal rangeâ making mild hypothyroidism look ânormalâ when it really isnât. When these people are accurately tested, the ânormalâ range becomes much narrower than what is currently reported.
Many people with the symptoms listed above do not get diagnosed and properly treated because their health care provider isnât familiar with the new research and how to interpret the latest laboratory tests.
Interpreting Thyroid Tests
First, it is frequently stated that thyroid tests are not accurate.
That was definitely the case as recently as 30 years ago. However, this is no longer true, at least for the TSH test (thyroid-stimulating hormone blood test). Anyone claiming this test isnât accurate simply does not understand how to interpret the results.
The only time the TSH may not be helpful is when itâs done on a patient with a pituitary disorder, which is not a common experience. The irony is that the reason some practitioners believe the TSH test isnât accurate is because many people with mild hypothyroidism are being reported in the normal range.
The problem isnât with the test, itâs because the ânormal rangeâ is too large.
The TSH test is far more accurate because, unlike all other thyroid tests, itâs reported on a âlogâ scale, rather than a linear one. This log scale is 10 times more sensitive and 10 times easier to measure than the linear scale used for all other thyroid tests. Unfortunately, even many endocrinologists miss this fact.
Thyroid and Menopause
Itâs estimated that by age 50 as many as one out of every five women has some degree of hypothyroidism. By age 60 itâs even higher. This low thyroid is often the ignored factor in women who are being treated for menopausal related symptoms.
Many women confuse hypothyroidism symptoms with menopause symptoms.
Fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, hair loss, constipation and "fuzzy thinkingâ or âbrain fog" are common symptoms shared by both conditions. Thyroid antibody tests can sometimes be helpful in addition to TSH thyroid testing. Even if you have a "normal" test result, you should consider yourself a possible thyroid candidate if you have had ANY of the symptoms named above prior to menopause. Because low thyroid symptoms so closely mimics menopause, many patients (and their doctors) will dismiss hypothyroidism as a possible cause for their complaints.
Thyroid, Pregnancy and Infertility
Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility or recurrent miscarriages. You need to know that in the past 30 years, I have seen many women with mild hypothyroidism who tested in the "normal" range become pregnant once low dose thyroid hormone was started.
If you are having difficulties in becoming pregnant, or have suffered a miscarriage there are several things you can do. Ask your doctor for both TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and thyroid antibodies laboratory tests.
Contrary to popular medical opinion, the T3 and T4 thyroid hormones are frequently reported as normal in mild hypothyroidism. Find out the actual numerical result for the TSH level from your doctor. It's important that you not accept "the result was normal" banter youâll probably be given. You want the exact number.
Look at the TSH level. At most labs, they consider a normal range to be approximately 0.5 to 5.5. But as of 2003, 0.3 to 3.0 is considered the narrower normal range many experts are now using for diagnosis and thyroid management.
Some endocrinologists believe that a percentage of women may find it difficult to get pregnant - or maintain a pregnancy - at a TSH level above 2.0.
For some woman this is even too high. I have seen and treated women with long standing infertility with a TSH in the 1.0- 2.0 range who have become pregnant within 1-3 months on a dose of thyroid hormone that lowered their TSH to 0.3 -1.0.
If your TSH is "high â normal" or you have elevated thyroid antibodies, find a doctor or endocrinologist who has a good success rate working with thyroid related infertility. Ensure you are ovulating by using a fertility awareness method, and/or ovulation predictor.
Thyroid hormone is not only safe for the baby, it is necessary for normal brain development. Children born to mothers with untreated hypothyroidism have lower cognitive development than their peers.
Hair Loss And Dry Skin & Brittle Nails
âCould It Be My Thyroid?â
An under-active thyroid can create dry, coarse, itchy skin, hair loss and brittle nails. The well being of your skin, the largest organ we have, depends on the general health of your body. When hormones like those controlled by the thyroid are not working properly, it can have a noticeable effect on your skin.
A hypothyroid condition slows down your metabolism, which causes skin to become cold, dry and pale.
Hypothyroidism can contribute to aging and dry skin on your body â including your face - which in turn can cause winkles and creases.
These symptoms can occur especially in woman with subtle hypothyroidism. When tested they are usually told they are ânormalâ â which of course is not the case at all.
Thyroid and Weight Loss
âI May Be Overweight, But Itâs Not My Fault!
Itâs My Thyroids Faultâ¦ But Why?â
The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. This gland is found in the neck, right below your Adam's Apple. The thyroid controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.
The thyroid gland does this by producing thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of many other internal systems.
The thyroid gland in turn is controlled by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary. The most common thyroid gland problems consist of an overactive thyroid gland, referred to as hyperthyroidism, and an under active thyroid gland, known as hypothyroidism.
Many overweight people have some degree of hypothyroidism. By stabilizing the thyroid, weight loss often occurs as a very welcome side effect. Many studies show that thyroid hormone treatment can help accelerate weight loss â more so than can be achieved by dieting alone.
What Is The âBestâ Prescription
Based Thyroid Treatment?
There are actually two types of thyroid hormone. Many people do extremely well with the hormone known as T4 (prescribed as Synthroid, Levoxyl or the generic levothyroxine). However, this T4 hormone must be activated by the body to be effective. When this conversion process is not working properly, a fixed dose combination of hormones, T4 and T3 (Armour Thyroid or Thyrolar) may be necessary to achieve full effect.
Alternatively, a separate T3 prescription (Cytomel or liothyronine) can be added to the T4. This allows for a more individualized treatment when the fixed dose doesnât work. Your health care provider will work with you to find the safest and most effective treatment to alleviate your symptoms and improve your health and well being. Be careful of providers that say one preparation works for everyone. This is not a one size fits all problem.
Several adjustments may be required before a therapeutic level is reached.
Non prescription, Natural Thyroid Treatment
Iodine is essential for the bodyâs production of thyroid hormone. Deficiency of iodine will lead to low thyroid hormone production. Even, worse for women, emerging evidence implicates low iodenie intake with increased risk of breast cancer.
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- Carrot (Daucus sativus) 50 mg
Naturally Occurring Food Constituents)
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No amount of money in the world can substitute for good health. A healthy thyroid is crucial for a proper functioning body. Shouldnât you do all you can to ensure a healthy, vibrant life is yours?
To a joyous lifeâ¦
Robert Lang, M.D.
P.S. Just so that you know, I only recommend products from companies that either I or my wife have personally taken and tested. You can rest assured that when I say a product or supplement from a particular company works, it does just that.
Your health truly is my concern.