Thyroid: Your Doctor Says It’s Normal, but Symptoms Say Otherwise?
Are you feeling sluggish? Do you have poor energy and fatigue? Is your skin dry and are you losing hair? Have you experienced constipation, or have you been trying to lose weight and been unsuccessful? If you have these symptoms, you may have low thyroid. You say your doctor has checked it, says it’s normal, but still feeling these symptoms? Let’s chat. Assessing thyroid isn’t just about the blood test results—it’s also about the patient’s symptoms, health history, and other potential underlying conditions like Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s.
Keep reading as I break all of this down and if by the end you want to sit down with one of our providers to talk about your symptoms (or have other questions), fill out our initial consultation form and we’ll be in touch. Let’s dive in…
By: Wendy Chouteau, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC
What is Thyroid Exactly?
Your thyroid gland is a little butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your throat that secretes thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate many of our body’s daily processes. Here’s how it works. Our brain secretes a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland which tells our thyroid to secrete the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Does this mean your thyroid is actually working? Maybe not. Here’s an analogy: Your car has gas in it but the starter is not working. You try to start your car, but the car will not start. Just because our brain sends the signal (TSH) to our thyroid to produce thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), does not mean our thyroids are producing adequate thyroid hormone.
Many people search the internet for an answer to their symptoms. Then they ask their doctor or care provider to check their levels because the symptoms they are having surely point to low thyroid. Labs are ordered and the doctor will usually only check thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The results come back normal, and your doctor says you are fine, you have no thyroid problem. Perhaps you are depressed? You say, doctor—I have a good job, a wonderful family, and I am happy. How does this make sense? To help explain, let me break down what it does for your body.
What Do Thyroid Hormones Do For You?
Your thyroid is responsible for so many body functions including metabolism. In fact, when you think of thyroid, you need to think about the word “metabolism”. Getting your hormones to the correct level will allow you to have more energy, will improve metabolism, leads to better gut health (less constipation), and helps your skin and hair to be less dry.
Hypothyroidism & Hashimoto’s
Some people have been diagnosed with a condition called hypothyroidism or low thyroid. When someone has hypothyroidism, their thyroid does not produce enough of the hormone. The pituitary keeps sending signals (TSH) to the thyroid to produce more T3 and T4, but the thyroid is not able to respond. The reason for this is multifactorial and may include having an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Or it can be because you are getting older, and your thyroid just is not working like it used to. In this case, the TSH is elevated because the thyroid is trying so hard to tell the thyroid gland to work.
If this is you, your doctor will prescribe a medication called levothyroxine (also known as Synthroid). Levothyroxine is made of T4 which your body needs to convert to T3. But your body is often not great about converting the T4 to T3 and you may continue to feel sluggish and fatigued. If your doctor starts you on this medication, they will recheck your levels in about 6-8 weeks. It is highly likely your numbers will improve, but will you feel better? What if there was another option to treat this condition that would make you feel better in a few days?
How We Assess & Treat Low Thyroid Levels
At Your Wellness Center, we check your labs to see what your hormone levels are, and we develop a plan with you to decide what therapy is best for you. While your doctor may only check TSH (a pituitary hormone), we will check not only TSH but also free T3 and free T4 levels. We check the free levels of T3 and T4 because these show us the amount of thyroid hormone that is readily available for use. Free T3 is approximately 90% metabolically active, while free T4 is only about 10% metabolically active.
If you have symptoms of low thyroid levels, we may prescribe a medication called NP thyroid. NP thyroid is a medication made in Europe that has primarily T3 and some T4 so you can start to feel better within a few days. We will check your labs after starting you on this to see if the dose we start you on is what you need and we will make adjustments to your dose based on lab results and how you are feeling.
To summarize, here are the symptoms of low thyroid:
- Low energy
- Inability to lose weight
- Dry skin
If you are interested in learning more about what your hormone levels are and are considering optimizing your levels to help alleviate your symptoms, please give us a call at (513)-791-9474. You can also fill out the initial consultation form and a member of our team will be in touch!
Know that in struggling with low Thyroid and its unwelcome symptoms, you’re not alone. We’ll work together to craft an individualized treatment plan and get you back to living life with renewed vitality.
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