All too often a patient will go to see their physician complaining of brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, freezing all the time and thinning hair which are all symptoms of hypothyroidism and given a “standard” TSH—Thyroid Stimulating Hormone—blood test. The test comes back and says TSH is “within normal range.” The doctor says something like, “I have good news…you’re fine!”

Does that patient sound fine? The TSH results give no explanation for how miserable this patient feels and all the symptoms the patient has to deal with. It leads the patient to feel that all these problems from symptoms are in their head, but they aren’t. They’re in the test.

This standard test has been around since the 70’s, and is considered the “Holy Grail” of thyroid tests. As long as you fall “within normal range” on that test, your thyroid is fine. You can ask practically any endocrinologist and they’ll tell you these things:
• The TSH lab test is a reliable marker of thyroid function to determine if you are hypothyroid or hyperthyroid.
• The test is an accurate guide for determining how much medication to give you.

News flash…that magic TSH test isn’t as perfect as they seem to think it is. Many times it leaves patients to be either under treated or untreated. Either way, they’re miserable.

Typically if your TSH is too high, your body has too little hormone in your body. If it is low, it typically indicates you have too much. The problem here is that every patient isn’t “typical.” We are all unique individuals.

Problems such as depression, inflammation, chronic illness, obesity, chronic dieting, chronic fatigue, stress, diabetes, fibromyalgia, insulin resistance and more can cause TSH levels to decrease even when the patient is hypothyroid. If the test is given on a day when these symptoms are absent or mild, the test can show “within normal range.” On a day when they are all at full force, the test results can be very different.

TSH is sent to remind the thyroid to produce more of the thyroid hormone. It’s a messenger. Like any messenger, things can happen. The messenger could be slow getting the message where it is supposed to go. Therefore, possibly due to pituitary problems, the TSH level is very slow to rise. You could be suffering for year with no help at all simply because a piece of paper says you are “within normal range.”

What do you do? You either go around being miserable for the rest of your life, or you do something about it. Talk to your doctor. Ask them to do another type of test. One that measures your Free T3/Reverse T3 could mean the difference between “living” your life or “existing in misery” for the rest of your life.

Once you FINALLY get diagnosed, the doctor will typically prescribe you either Synthyroid or Levothroxine. These are two man-made, synthetic brands of thyroid hormone. Notice that word “typically” again. You’ve already been proven NOT to be a typical patient. You need something that is “atypical.”

There are other types of thyroid medication available. One is a natural hormone called Armour. It is derived from desiccated pig thyroid. One way to look at it is that man may make a mistake, but nature seldom. It may be better for you to try the natural medication that will be more easily absorbed into your system.

There are other medications such as Thyrolar which treat both T3 and T4 or Cytomel which works on T3. These are newer on the scene, so you want to talk to the doctor about those as well. Schedule a time when you can sit down with the doctor just to discuss medication options. Together, you can decide which medication is best for you and which one will get you on the road to a much healthier future.