According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, nearly 30 million Americans have thyroid disease. Unfortunately, many go undiagnosed or undetected for years. This number includes three times more women than men and includes something called subclinical hypothyroidism.
Subclinical hypothyroidism presents clinically with many of the same symptoms as classic hypothyroidism, but, is just below the threshold in terms of diagnostic lab values regarding TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), and T4 or thyroxine.
If you suspect a thyroid problem, the first thing your doctor will probably do is order a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test. This is covered by insurance and typically might be the only component of the thyroid test panel to be checked by the doctor. Typically, the higher your score, the more likely you are to be hypothyroid. The American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists believes levels between 0.3 and 3 are indicative of an underachieving thyroid. However, many functional or natural medicine practitioners believe any score higher than 2.0 on the TSH score, plus classical symptoms is indicative of hypothyroidism.
Conventional doctors will follow the standard of care and recommend Synthroid or Levothyroxine, which may temporarily improve symptoms, but not address the underlying cause.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman M.D. functional medicine expert and Chief of the Functional Medicine Division at the Cleveland Clinic, it is important to consider changes in diet, lifestyle, and to prescribe a natural prescription form of thyroid like Armour Thyroid or Natur-Throid as a starting point, with combinations of both T4 thyroxine and T3 or triiodothyronine, which is the active form of thyroid.
Classic Low Thyroid Symptoms to Consider
If you experience some of the following, you may want to rule out classic hypothyroidism, subclinical hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as the underlying cause of why you are not feeling like yourself or feeling your best.
Do you experience any of the following symptoms?
- thick or brittle fingernails
- dry skin
- cold hands and feet regardless of warm temperature
- lack of stamina
- brain fog
- course or thinning hair
- thin eyebrows
- excessive sweating
- menstrual irregularities
- swollen hands or feet
- high cholesterol
- changes in weight with difficulty losing weight
- mild depression
- muscle aches or joint pain
Many times this exhaustive list of symptoms or a cluster of these signs is indicative of a disturbed thyroid which deserves further clinical investigation. Doctors may overlook thyroid disease because sometimes the symptoms are non- specific, and the lab results fall within the normal reference range.
Typical Patient Story of Missed Thyroid Diagnosis
Angelina Smith is a busy mother of two young boys who suddenly found herself exhausted in the middle of the morning. Her doctor told her to “get more sleep” and to try to relax. When she reported that her hair was falling out and she was feeling more sad or depressed, her doctor attributed her symptoms to everyday ups and downs of life. Angelina also noted, that her regular clothes were fitting tighter, and she was gaining some weight despite some regular moderate exercise, and no change in diet. The doctor shunned this off as just her age of 35 years, and that her “metabolism was changing”. Angelina knew something was just not right with her body and decided to change physicians for another opinion. After deciding to step outside the traditional medicine box and make an appointment with a functional medicine doctor educated on hormonal imbalance, Angelina’s issue was uncovered as hypothyroidism with an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone which was contributing with her present symptoms. Once these hormone issues were addressed and treated with compounded formulations specific for her body, Angelina began to regain her health and feel once again like her old self.
What are the Different Types of Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease can be classified according to overactivity or under activity of the gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located anatomically at the base of your throat and produces hormones that control every function in your body.
Thyroid disease consists of hyperthyroidism, goiters, nodules, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and sub-clinical hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone, when it is in balance, helps improve moods, skin, hair, sex drive, heart function, cholesterol, infertility, muscle aches, joint pain, body temperature, and metabolism to name a few. In addition, hypothyroidism has been associated with fibromyalgia and osteoporosis according to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum M.D., medical director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers.
Trusting the Thyroid Thermostat
According to Brian F. Mandell M.D., Ph.D. contributing author in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2019 February:86 (2):77-78 who suggests that the natural history of all patients with subclinical hypothyroidism is not alike, and it thus should not be surprising that there does not seem to be a one-size-fits-all approach to management of the disorder. Furthermore, the management of subclinical hypothyroidism or other forms of thyroid disorder should be based on both good clinical examination and laboratory testing that includes complete thyroid profiles with TSH, T3, free T3, T4, free T4, TPO, and reverse T3.
Simple, At-Home Thyroid Testing
Many functional medicine or holistic medical doctors recommend doing your own thyroid screening test in the comforts of your home. This can be accomplished by placing a thermometer under the arm ( axillary area) upon awakening. Hold still for 5 minutes, then record your time and temperature. Do this for three consecutive days to see a pattern of your basal body temperature. If your reading is below 97.2 consistently, and you suffer from the cluster of symptoms mentioned above, it is likely your thyroid is underactive and needs some medical attention.
Proactive Approach to Managing Your Thyroid
Early detection of thyroid disease is very important, just like any other major condition. The sooner you have a definitive diagnosis, the faster you can begin to get your life back and expect to feel as if you are in control again. Encourage your physician to order a complete thyroid profile, take your own basal body temperature test at home, and start appropriate therapy to regain homeostasis once again. In addition, there are some very good nutritional supplements that support the thyroid gland and can help rebalance your metabolism and give you more energy. One, in particular, called THYROID SUPPORT WITH ZINC improves low thyroid and metabolic function by combining key vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients specifically targeted at this gland. This supplement can be taken as an adjunct to prescription natural thyroid medicine, or as a stand-alone product for milder symptoms.
If you have questions, you may reach us at Cypress Pharmacy by calling (239)-481-7322 or stop by to discuss with one of our healthcare professionals.