Thyroid: The Missing Pieces
It's important to protect your thyroid health so you can avoid problems or resolve current challenges.
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According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and up to 60% of them are unaware of their condition. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have a problem with their thyroid. One out of every eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime, and doctors find approximately 250,000 thyroid nodes each year, some of them cancerous, some not. These statistics may wake you up a bit, I know they did me.
I want to offer ways to protect your thyroid health so you can avoid problems or resolve current challenges.
The thyroid gland is relatively small. Its known for regulating metabolism but it also produces hormones that influence every cell, tissue, and organ in your body, as well as genetic expression. I want you to know what to ask your doctor or naturopath when you have your check-up, so your thyroid is adequately assessed.
A full thyroid panel includes ten markers of thyroid function, two of which are antibodies. There is an eleventh test if Grave’s disease is suspected. Always insist that any testing includes all these markers. Find an expert who knows how to properly read a full thyroid panel results. Most doctors do not have the training to identify essential indicators and subtle nuances the tests may reveal. Generally, doctors are required to give medications if your TSH is off regardless of most of the other markers. Few are trained in getting to the root of why things are out of balance.
Here is a list of thyroid tests I require in my clinic:
- Total T4
- Total T3
- T3U Uptake
- Free T4
- Free T3
- rT3 (reverse T3)
- TPO and Anti-thyroglobulin
- Free Thyroxine Index (FTI)
Critically, each one of these tests, as well as the combination of them, show me various patterns of imbalances. They reveal not only information about your thyroid, but also how other parts of your body are converting T4 hormone to T3, higher than optimal levels of estrogen, testosterone, or cortisol, as well as pituitary function. Plus, my reference ranges are different from regular doctors or NMD because they come from functional medicine and healthy people. What your doctor calls “normal” is likely to be out of balance by functional medical standards.
In my practice, I see people with low-level antibodies on thyroid panels, which may only be 5 points away from a full-blown diagnosis of the autoimmune disease Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Ideally, healthy people do not have any antibodies. If your results show a level of 35 TPO, you are likely to hear that everything is "normal." When in reality, you are a mere 2 points away from a diagnosable disease. It’s important to understand that you may have “autoimmunity” before you manifest an autoimmune disease. It is vital to act on the information and treat the underlying cause and prevent this illness.
Few doctors, however, are speaking to this.
It’s likely you’ve never had a full thyroid panel assessed. Make sure before taking any thyroid medication that you have a full thyroid panel, read by an expert who can recommend optimal care. I often see women falling through the cracks, taking thyroid medications and never really addressing the real issue.
I desire you to have all the info so you can be an informed consumer. A healthy and happy thyroid means a healthier and happier life.