Hypothyroid Testing – What You Need to Know

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thyroidMillions of Americans (mostly women) suffer from an underactive thyroid, but many are misdiagnosed, despite having common hypothyroid symptoms such as constipation, fatigue, weight gain, impaired memory, thinning hair, dry skin, sensitivity to cold, muscle cramps, infertility, elevated cholesterol and nerve pain. Because depression can also be a symptom, some doctors prescribe antidepressants, rather than treat for an underactive thyroid.

And, hypothyroid testing can be tricky in that a misdiagnosis can also be made when a doctor only orders a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test and does not run a comprehensive thyroid panel, which is necessary to fully understand what is going on with someone’s health. Sometimes a TSH level can be normal and a person can still have an underactive thyroid or even an autoimmune thyroid condition. Furthermore, there are differences in opinion among professionals as to how high the TSH should be before a patient is diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Some conventional doctors and labs consider the upper range to be between 4-5 mU/L, whereas many integrative doctors feel the upper limit should only be 1.5-2 mU/L.

The best way to get to the root of your thyroid problem is to do a comprehensive thyroid panel, such as Village Green’s Advanced Thyroid Analysis. This panel includes tests such as TSH, thyroid hormones T3 (free and total) and T4 (free), thyroid antibodies, and reverse T3. Again, thyroid imbalances are best understood by looking at a combination of markers, not just a TSH level.

If your doctor is resistant to ordering a thorough panel or is not well versed in understanding the nuances of the results, Village Green is here to help. After ordering the Advanced Thyroid Analysis, you can consult with one of our Naturopaths or Nutritionists who can help you understand your results and map out a plan for you. If your labs point towards hypothyroidism, your health coach will work with you to understand possible causes and contributing factors. He or she will discuss how nutrient deficiencies, gut health, diet, environmental toxins, infection, and stress all play a role in thyroid dysfunction. You will also find out if your thyroid function can be helped using natural support such as stress reduction, diet, herbs, and supplements or if medications would be best for you.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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October 2016
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