THE TROUBLE WITH STANDARD BLOOD TESTS
WHAT IS HYPOTHYROIDISM?
Hypothyroidism is described as a condition under which the thyroid is underactive or thought to not be producing enough thyroid hormones to power the body and keep our metabolic rate at a consistent level.
Thyroid hormones impact every cell in the body, therefore, when it is underactive, you feel “slow”. And this “slowness” is real, not only in your head … since the body slows down non vital systems in order to preserve energy for survival.
COLD, TIRED, SLEEPY, DEPRESSED?
No wonder you feel cold, tired, sleepy, your brain does not work at full capacity, you feel constipated, gain weight, lose hair, becomes infertile and a host of other symptoms.
Hypothyroidism, like most diseases or disorders, works on a spectrum. Meaning, there are various phases or degrees of hypothyroidism. You can move up and down the spectrum or in and out of different phases.
Most people with symptoms of hypothyroidism have “functional hypothyroidism” and not the actual thyroid disease. Some facet of their health is breaking down and as a consequence producing hypothyroid symptoms. Symptoms that may or may not get better with thyroid hormone medication.
The thyroid is extremely sensitive to the slightest change in the body chemistry; that’s its job! To detect subtle changes and adapt to them. But when the shifts become chronic the thyroid may fatigue and stop working properly.
It is not always a gland problem. Maybe the communication coming from the brain is faulty, maybe the activity on the cells is not working properly.
Many things impact thyroid function:
● Blood sugar imbalances
● Hormone imbalances
● Chronic infections
● Nutritional deficiencies
● Liver congestion,
● Poor digestive health
So, to think that you can only measure TSH and get the full picture of what is happening on someone's thyroid is beyond my comprehension.
Low thyroid function falls into one of six patterns, however, only ONE of them can be resolved with thyroid hormone medication!
Many people struggle with symptoms of hypothyroidism and yet are told by their doctor that they do not have hypothyroidism because their Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Thyroxine (T4) levels are within lab range. And if you happen to be “lucky” and have a blood marker out of range, the only solution is to give you thyroid hormone medication. And it may get even worse, some doctors use the lab ranges that come with the test results, instead of functional ranges, which have been carefully researched and formulated as parameters of good health. By the time someone’s thyroid levels are outside of the typical ranges the lab provides, his/her condition is so advanced that taking medication or surgery might be his/her only option. That is why the standard lab ranges are referred to as pathological or diseases range. Although pathological ranges are useful for diagnosing diseases that require medical interventions, they are of little value for assessing good health.
HOW LAB RANGES ARE CREATED - sadly, there is little to do with health…
You may be surprised to find out that pathological ranges or the ranges that come with test results are simply the averages of all the people who have had blood work analyzed by that lab in a specific period of time. Yes, that includes old, young, sick, healthy ...
Meaning the ranges change if you go to different places and at different times. Wait, that does not make any sense, right? So, this means that the guidelines for diagnosing thyroid condition are based on all the people who visited that lab over that period of time, most of which are probably not on their best health, to begin with, maybe even already on medication. And the average of the results is what constitutes lab ranges…. To make things worse, pathological ranges have broadened over the past 50 years as the health of Americans declined. For example, what was considered pre diabetics 30 years ago, before the advent of junk foods and chemicals, is now considered normal. And that is why, if your results fall within this range, your doctor will tell you: "there is nothing wrong with you, your labs are normal!“ And if you feel everything but...
So, do you want your results to fall within the average of a sick population (disease or lab range) or with optimal functional and health population (optimal range)?
Once a patient is diagnosed with primary hypothyroidism (when the TSH is high and T4 is low), thyroid hormone is provided to raise T4 and lower TSH. And, usually, your doctor will manage more of your lab test results than your symptoms. As a consequence, you still feel like shit and hopeless and do not know what to do...
While we want to see what is going on with serum levels, your complaint and history are part of this puzzle and must be taken into consideration.
By only measuring TSH, and if you are lucky also T4, we may be missing a lot of information about you; and now wonder if most of us get dismissed as hypochondriac, anxious, depressed or just a crazy bitch that only needs to eat less, stress less and exercise more.
After 20+ years of trying to feel better and analyzing scientific research, I believe that a hypothyroid condition does not start at the thyroid gland and that there is much more at play than just the gland underperforming. For most people, hypothyroid symptoms start long before they are diagnosed with primary hypothyroidism or their thyroid gland becomes dysfunctional.
Therefore, if you want to feel better, at a minimum, we need to understand why your thyroid is not working properly. There is much more to it than just lab markers, but those are important to give us clues to what might be going on.
Those are the labs I usually like to see.
You can save them and print to take them with you to your next appointment!
Although it is unlikely that a regular physician will deem them important, I think it is a conversation worth having!
If you feel that you need some individual attention, feel free to apply for a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Call to see how can I help you! Apply here.
Isabela Fortes is a
Board Certified Holistic Health Expert, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher Level II
Certified Yoga Therapist
She teaches and works with clients in Southern California and Virtually anywhere in the world.
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Get to the bottom of your fatigue. Get your energy back and feel like yourself again!