Dawn shared her thyroid experience that provides a wonderful encapsulation of many of the issues we encounter when we try to get thyroid health re-established:
I had a TSH of 3.9 for years, and they ALL said my thyroid was fine, then tried to give me antidepressants and told me to exercise more and sleep better. It made me so mad, because I knew I wasn’t depressed and I was exercising.
I finally found a functional doctor who tested all of them. Not only did my free T3 and T4 prove that I was indeed hypothyroid, but my antibodies showed I also had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hmmm, imagine that: I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t need to exercise more, and trust me I was sleeping way more than I should have been. Now my numbers are optimal and I’m feeling so much better.
We just go along with whatever our doctors tell us, even though we know something is terribly, terribly wrong. At one point, I honestly thought I was going to die (felt so bad I sometimes wished I would). It was actually you and the wonderful people here that pushed me to get answers.
What is considered “normal” TSH is not optimal. Besides that, the TSH test doesn’t really tell you the whole picture of your thyroid. Your thyroid doesn’t make TSH. The only way to know if your thyroid is optimal is by testing free t3, free t4, reverse t3 and ideally your thyroid antibodies. You still need your Free T’s checked, even if your TSH comes back in normal range. By the way, optimal TSH is completely different than the “reference” or “normal” range. Most labs consider anything under 5 within range, when optional is below 2. Huge difference.
Conventional management of low thyroid hormone status, hypothyroidism, is defined by ignorance, neglect, and indifference, much like the 3 monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, or speak no evil. The “rules” used to diagnose hypothyroidism by your primary care doctor or endocrinologist no longer apply in an age of heightened autoimmune disease risk triggered by the genetically altered forms of gliadin protein in wheat, disruption of bowel flora by numerous environmental and dietary factors, and the growing problem of endocrine disruption from industrial compounds. Just as using a yellow plastic dial analog telephone from 1970 would be laughably out-of-date in the age of sleek, microprocessor-driven, digital smartphones, so applying the rules of the 1980s to the modern landscape of thyroid dysfunction would be equally silly–except that your health is at stake and the answers are being dispensed by someone who purports to be an expert–your doctor.
In this new age with new challenges, some of which change every year as, for instance, the chemical and agribusiness industries release literally hundreds of new, untested chemicals into the soil, groundwater, food, and commercial products, the new rules for thyroid health have not yet been written. As Dawn points out, however, it is indeed possible to make sense out of thyroid status and work towards re-establishing something close to ideal thyroid status, even after the inciting autoimmune trigger–wheat and grains–have been removed and after disruptive factors–exposure to industrial chemicals–are not fully identified or understood.
As Dawn also points out, we should never accept:
“Your thyroid is fine” without actually seeing and getting a copy of the values (that you can share with us).
“Your TSH is fine” without, once again, actually seeing the value.
TSH as the sole measure. In this new age, it cannot be taken in isolation. (Even the full panel leaves some holes due to the larger problem of endocrine disruption at the hypothalamic, pituitary, and organ/tissue level, an issue for another day.)
Complete dismissal of thyroid symptoms such as depression, fatigue, inappropriately colds hands and feet, constipation, and thinning hair.
Cookbook medicine with the recipes written 30 or 40 years ago–when your doctor was educated before many of the problems of the new age declared themselves.