Did you know that thyroid disease can cause unexplained weight gain and fatigue? It can also cause depression, hair loss, anxiety, dry skin and poor memory. When tested randomly, at least 10% of adults are found to have thyroid disease. In additional 10-15% of adults may have early thyroid disease.
Unfortunately, many with early disease are tested and found to have ‘normal’ thyroid function. Furthermore many being treated for thyroid disease still have many of the symptoms remain.
Why is it that so many people are not diagnosed? And why are half of those already on treatment not feeling better?
Simply put, the shortcoming is in the “normal range” numbers of the thyroid tests that most doctors rely on. Laboratory ranges can be decided on or just averaged.
For blood sugar levels, for example, panels of researchers review glucose levels in people who have become diabetic and compared it to what their blood sugar levels were in the years preceding their diagnosis. Those whose morning fasting blood sugar levels are under 99 were found to have lower rates of becoming diabetic. Therefore 99 is considered the upper limit of the “normal range”.
For thyroid disease the ranges are simply averages. What this means is that a lab will review 10,000 scores from a thyroid test and create a high and low range based on this group. The low range is the lowest 2.5% of scores and high range is the highest 2.5%.
The problem with this method is that these normal values are only reflective of whoever is being tested. Who gets a thyroid test done? Primarily two groups: those known to have thyroid disease and those suspected of having it. These two groups should not be expected to have the same thyroid blood levels as those with optimal thyroid function, yet this is the assumption inherent in the normal ranges.
So what is the solution? If you or someone you love has possible hypothyroid symptoms, have a complete panel of tests done including TSH, thyroid antibodies, free t3 and free t4. Look for your TSH to be in the optimal range of 0.3 – 1.5.
If it is not or if the other tests are abnormal, you may benefit from thyroid treatment. If you doctor does not agree look for one recommended by thyroid patients such as http://www.thyroid-info.com/topdrs/index.htm.