The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland nestled in the front of your throat. Despite its size, I consider it the most important gland in your body due to the key functions it regulates.
Fatigue, weight gain or weight loss, depression, anxiety, hair loss, digestive problems, heart rhythm disruption, elevated cholesterol and bone loss are just some of the problems linked to thyroid disorders.
More than 20-million Americans suffer either low-thyroid (hypothyroidism) or overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). It it is far more common in women over age 30 than men.
Once you are properly diagnosed treatment is effective. But many under-informed physicians don’t look beyond basic lab results or listen carefully to the patient’s symptoms.
Managing thyroid conditions requires a blend of precise science, experience and the willingness to listen carefully to the patient as their body responds to treatment. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor openly and don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion if you feel you are not being heard.
Thyroid Myths and Facts
MYTH : Thyroid problems are severe and hard to miss
FACT: Symptoms can be vague and are often misdiagnosed or confused with other hormonal conditions, particularly in women. My private laboratory is specially equipped to analyze multiple blood factors to identify a range of thyroid disorders
MYTH: Thyroid malfunction is rare in young adults.
FACT: While most common during mid-life, symptoms can appear at any age. Hypothyroidism is often seen in healthy younger women following childbirth. Hyperthyroidism tends to be more common after age 60.
MYTH: A “normal” TSH level means your thyroid is working properly.
FACT: TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is the most commonly used gauge of thyroid health, but is not definitive. I see many patients who have normal TSH levels while suffering symptoms. Your body is begging for more T3 hormone to stay healthy, but doctors have been fooled by the “normal” lab results.
My staff’s experience and specialized lab equipment help us look beyond just TSH. We listen carefully to the patient’s symptoms, study multiple blood tests and evaluate overall health.
Even when TSH levels are normal, we may prescribe a therapeutic trial of both T3 and T4 hormone, then carefully monitor results over a period of several weeks. We adjust medications until blood levels are optimized and the patient feels their best.
MYTH: Thyroid symptoms are predominately physical.
FACT: Dry skin, constipation, muscle weakness and many other physical changes can be associated with thyroid imbalance, but many patients suffer less obvious symptoms. Fatigue, foggy-thinking and depression are very commonly linked to low-thyroid. These symptoms have a dramatic impact on your quality-of-life, but patients often suffer in silence never suspecting a hormone deficiency. Many patients see these symptoms improve within days of initiating treatment.
MYTH: A lump in your throat is a sure sign of thyroid problems.
FACT: Lumps or nodules should always be examined. However, an overactive or underactive thyroid can appear totally normal, and nodules can be completely benign.
MYTH: Natural thyroid medications are equally as effective as prescription drugs.
FACT: Dried and powdered pig thyroid used to be the only option for treating low-thyroid. It is still available as a food supplement and by prescription. Even though I prefer natural treatments in general, I do not recommend it because the levels of T3 and T4 is not assured or controlled. And, while it was natural for the pig, this product contains proteins and other ingredients not natural to the human body.