Updated: Feb 16, 2019
Understanding how to properly test your THYROID is crucial to overall health. Why - you may ask? It is because your body uses thyroid hormone in every single cell in your body. One thing I have learned on this health journey of mine is that if something affects every single cell, or major organs, or the bloodstream, I need to pay attention.
You will find that the majority of doctors use only the TSH blood test to assess the thyroid. In fact, if a woman, in particular (although men are affected as well), goes to her doctor and complains about not being able to lose weight, fatigue, hair loss and possibly depression or anxiety, he/she will either push off these symptoms as just stress because she is busy with children, job, etc. OR the doctor will instead run the TSH test looking for a thyroid problem, as these are common symptoms for low thyroid. The problem with just using the TSH test, also known as the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test, is that it more accurately assesses pituitary gland function, which then leads to thyroid function. However, by the time the TSH is way out of range, the person can be so miserable it can take months just to bring the body back into balance again. Also, it has become well known that the TSH range is not accurate, but instead has way too high of an upper range leading people to think their thyroid function is fine, when in fact it is under performing. The TSH test should be taken, but in addition to the following blood tests as well:
Free T3 -
Free T4 -
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
And possibly Reverse T3
Free T3 is the active thyroid hormone that is "free" for your body to actually use at any given time. Having adequate T3 makes a world of difference in how you feel, your energy level, and whether you have healthy hair and nails. T4 is your storage of thyroid hormone - what your body has in reserves for you to use.
Both Antibodies should always be tested as well, since if either of these are positive you actually have the autoimmune disease Hoshimoto's Thyroiditis. An abundance of medical resources claim that over 90% of those with thyroid issues actually have the autoimmune disease Hoshimoto's so it is important to add these tests into the mix.
When completing an overall assessment of your thyroid two other tests should be done as well.
Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy
Iron and TIBC
Both Vitamin D and Iron affect the thyroid, so making sure they are properly balanced and optimal can make all the difference in the world in getting your thyroid in a healthy range.
If you suspect you have a thyroid issue, but aren't sure, one way to quickly assess yourself is to look in the mirror. If you only have part of your eyebrows (the front end), in addition to having fatigue, then it's time to see a doctor to have the above mentioned tests done. If you would like to first learn more about the thyroid prior to going to the doctor so you are thoroughly informed and can ask educated questions, I suggest these three phenomenal resources,
All of these books are fantastic resources! They taught me so much when I finally discovered the extent of my thyroid issues. I had been misdiagnosed for over TWENTY YEARS. I had shown thyroid symptoms as a kid, yet "nothing showed up" in any of my blood work. Shortly after having my first child I went to the doctors because I was so fatigued, I thought possibly I was pregnant again. The doctor took one look at me and said I might have thyroid cancer because my neck was so large. Can you believe a doctor said that to a new mother with absolutely no tests having been done???
Anyways, after blood work and ultrasounds were completed, I was told I had a goiter as a result of a severely under-performing thyroid and I was in danger of having a heart attack. Again - another AWFUL thing to have had been said to me! I started on thyroid medication and was finally able to decrease the goiter and function somewhat normally. However, I continued to suffer for many, many years after (another 20+ years) due to receiving inferior thyroid medication. (Another post coming soon on what to look for in medication) If it wasn't for a dear friend who happened to overhear how miserable I was and how no doctor was able to find out what was wrong, I would have never known what was ailing me. Because he was in alternative medicine, he was able to educate me on what tests to have done - which are in fact what tests I have suggested above. I was severely low in Free T3 and in Free T4, way too high in TSH and my ratio for Reverse T3 was way out of balance. I also was positive for both antibodies, thus diagnosing me with Hoshimoto's. Had I had this information years prior, I might not have suffered so horribly and ended up with cancer a few years later.
If you are having a hard time finding a doctor who knows how to properly assess the thyroid and you highly suspect you have an issue (not uncommon after going through child birth), don't hesitate to to check out my resources on DOCTORS. This is a doctor who uses both Western and Eastern Medicine and looks at the body as a whole and looks for actual root causes of disease.
Wishing you much health and happiness,
♥ Tina Buenzli
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