Many people suffer for years with undiagnosed or underdiagnosed thyroid problems. How does this happen? When investigating the possible causes of the often debilitating fatigue that brings a patient to the Doctor’s office, many physicians only perform the routine TSH test.
The average TSH test doesn’t tell the whole story. As the range of results accepted as “normal” is so broad, patients are often left without a definitive answer or solution. In addition, people who have the autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis may have a normal reading on the TSH test.
Thyroid tests ordered by your medical practitioner should therefore include a Full Thyroid Panel that tests, at a minimum, the following:
TSH: The pituitary hormone known as Thyroid Stimulating Hormone responds to the amount of circulating thyroid hormone in the body. Test results indicate how hard your body is working to try to maintain balance in the body. Unfortunately, in some types of Thyroid disease, the results of this test may fall within what is considered a “normal” range. If your physician goes no further in or his/her investigation, there is still the possibility you may have an undiagnosed thyroid disorder, in which case your symptoms of thyroid disorder will continue.
Free T3 and Free T4: These tests measure the levels of active thyroid hormone available and circulating in your body. Results from these two tests, in combination with the TSH test, can help to diagnose a more rare type of hypothyroidism known as central hypothyroidism.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Antibodies) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TG Antibodies): These tests reveal the antibodies that your own body may be producing with Hashimoto’s – the autoimmune form of thyroid disease. They should be performed early on when investigating the possible causes of fatigue, especially if you suspect a thyroid problem. TSH test results can appear within normal range, in spite of the inflammation and autoimmune response that may be happening; these two tests provide more clues.
Thyroid Ultrasound: This imaging test can provide additional clues to which type of disorder may be affecting your thyroid functioning. In addition, it can help rule out other more serious conditions that may be a factor.
If your medical practitioner hasn’t recommended these tests, he/she should have no problem ordering them for you. However, correcting thyroid disorders and increasing daily function and comfort take time and perseverance. Find a doctor who thoroughly understands this complicated disorder and uses these six diagnostic tools to get you on the fast track to feeling better.
When treating thyroid disease there is a big difference between normal versus optimal blood levels on follow up testing. Many patients continue to suffer with symptoms because their dose is too low or they are only on a T4 medication versus a combination of T4 and T3, which is usually more effective. Many practitioners are not comfortable trying to optimize versus just normalizing blood levels, and instead, they tell patients, “your levels are normal, I don’t know why you still feel unwell”. If you’re getting that response, be sure to seek out a practitioner who will listen, test more thoroughly with the above recommendations, and optimize versus normalize your thyroid levels. This is what it usually takes to feel better.
About Maturo Medical: Dr. Maturo knows the effects of thyroid disorder first hand, having suffered with undiagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis for years. For more information about symptoms of thyroid disorder, contact Maturo Medical Weight and Wellness today by visiting: maturomedical.org/.