You will learn about something that is terribly undiagnosed or underdiagnosed in America and most probably the entire Western world and that is hypothyroidism.
We think about this as a condition in women but it is becoming increasingly common in men and if you do not have a doctor who knows how to diagnose this, you can be left suffering from symptoms that will ultimately ruin your health and you cannot really do much about it.
So hypothyroidism. We all know our thyroid gland is about near the throat. The thyroid gland is a very complicated physiological thing. Many many doctors have to honestly say that they do not really understand it that much.
There are many family doctors and internal medicine doctors that if you have too many thyroid symptoms or an abnormal lab value on your thyroid, they will refer you immediately to a thyroid specialist usually called an endocrinologist.
But as many of your fellow patients will tell you, often when you go see the endocrinologist, you leave without a new diagnosis, without anything helpful other than – ‘come see me in a year’. So it is grossly underdiagnosed and just not diagnosed at all.
So what are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
There are so many men and women who have chronic severe fatigue, who have weight gain that they cannot really explain, who have dry skin, dry brittle hair, weight gain in the middle which is a classic thing, they will start to lose the outer third of their eyebrows and it is a good indicator.
If a doctor sees a patient with that symptom, they should be able to diagnose them as soon as they walk in the room, before they even start talking. The doctor ought to know what is wrong with that patient.
The tests that a doctor would check sometimes confuse the doctor. Hence many doctors will just refer you to an endocrinologist because it is really hard to understand. For the thyroid lab work, you almost have to interpret it upside down and backwards.
TSH is not a thyroid hormone at all. It is actually a hormone that only comes from the pituitary gland which is part of your brain. So if you just have your TSH checked, that is really only telling you how your pituitary gland is functioning.
It is not really telling you at all about your thyroid function. So anytime you go to a doctor with thyroid symptoms and they only check a TSH, you have really not been serviced by that doctor. He did not really earn his copay if that is all he did.
Some doctors go a step further and they will check a TSH and a free t4, and that is a little better but it is still not a complete and thorough check. Many many people suffering from severe hypothyroidism will have both those tests normal until they are very far down into the disease spiral.
So if a doctor is checking a patient without any thyroid symptoms, he will usually check a TSH and a free t4 just as a routine check of their overall health. But if someone goes to a doctor with specific symptoms of hypothyroidism or low thyroid, the doctor should check a complete thyroid panel.
And any doctor who in any way is trying to think of the human organism as a functional, anatomical and physiological organism, should do the same. It will not take you much googling to figure out what that entire panel should entail and it is not just thyroid lab work, it is also adrenal, vitamins and minerals and other lab work as part of a full panel.
The TSH which is a Thyrotropin stimulating hormone, many doctors consider that to be state of the art, but what you may not know, doctors and patients alike are that the TSH test is more than 30 years old.
So that is in no way state of the art. It has been around for a long long time. Now doctors back in the old days before the TSH test was developed, they used to go by their patient’s symptoms which means they had to listen to their patients and examine them.
And not just blindly check a single lab test and then base their entire diagnosis on that one test. Hence what a good doctor should do is listen to your symptoms and look at your signs that you present physically and then check a full thyroid panel.
Only then can a good doctor make a reliable diagnosis and get you the medications that you need. There are millions of millions of people in the US alone, not to mention the UK, Australia, Canada and other places who are suffering from hypothyroidism or low thyroid symptoms every day and they are just not diagnosed.
That is either because they think that they are just feeling miserable so there is no point wasting a trip to the doctor for that. You may be in your 50’s or 60’s and might think that you should be feeling miserable. No. That should not be the case at all.
You should be feeling great in your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. If all your hormones are optimized and your diet is good, you should feel great. You should be like your friend who you are jealous of, who always has all that energy and is always raring to go.
That is how you should feel in your 50’s or 60’s. Even in your 70’s! If your favourite thing in your house is your couch or your lazy boy recliner, there is something wrong. It is either your diet or your hormones, or something is wrong with you.
You need to be checked by a good, functional minded doctor. You do not want to be one of those millions of people running around or actually lying around, feeling miserable and think that is just their lot in life.
That they are going to feel miserable because that is not how it should be. Now if you go see your doctor and he checks just the TSH, maybe share with him or her about what you learnt here today and tell him that he or she should check more than just the TSH if you are having these symptoms.
Now the average unthinking doctor is going to be irritated by that. If you do that and if they get too irritated then maybe you need to find a new doctor. But if the doctor seems interested and educable then maybe you can train your doctor to take better care of you.
You are entitled to have the best of care. If doctors put on the white coat and a stethoscope then they also need to do the thinking and do their job.