The thyroid gland ranks high in the world of hormonal balancing. The thyroid is responsible for many functions in the human body and among them one of the most important, metabolism. The correct amount of thyroid hormones will do wonders for your well being.
Yet Hypothyroidism is very commonly under diagnosed and if treated with the most common replacement, Synthroid, incorrectly treated. The majority of physicians have been taught to evaluate the thyroid by looking at the TSH, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The TSH is actually a pituitary hormone that travels to the thyroid gland to tell it to make some real thyroid hormone.
I’ll get into the correct treatment of the thyroid in future blog entries. Today I just want to pass along an interesting story about the TSH and how ‘Modern Medicine’ can be very much outdated.
When the TSH test was first developed, approximately 200 medical students, regardless of thyroid symptoms, were used to establish the “normal” range. Their TSH values were made into a bell curve and only the values greater than 2 standard deviations from the mean were considered abnormal. This produced a very large range of so-called normal thyroid values. Again, remember, the TSH is a pituitary hormone! Over the years, additional population studies have been done to back up this range. The “normal” reference range was intended to represent the range of values for those in a healthy population without any thyroid problem.
With all the other advances in medicine the thyroid treatment protocol has not changed. Most doctors still use that very big range of the pituitary hormone, TSH, and never look at the actual thyroid hormones T3, and T4. The result is that millions of people have never been treated even though they had strong symptoms of a sluggish or inactive thyroid. The most common symptoms are low energy, losing hair, cold intolerance, low body temperature, depression, constipation, and most importantly slowing down the metabolism enough to make it virtually impossible to lose weight and most likely gain weight. The end result is that there is a very large amount of the people who have a so-called “normal” TSH lab values and have classic or raging hypothyroid symptoms. Since most doctors have become lab-obsessed rather than giving credence to clinical presentation, patients remain undiagnosed for years before the number rises high enough to reveal the condition.
The moral of the story? If your doctor says your thyroid is normal based on the TSH result, look for another doctor, one that does not live in the dark ages. Better yet, ask the good doctor what are the levels of my REAL thyroid hormone T3. Odds are the doctor will not know.
Terry R. Leder B.A.
Clinical Manager & Research
Pointe Medical Services/Live Well MD