Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND author of Healing Your Thyroid Naturally overcame Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism that had negatively impacted her life for many years. This month, she is sharing the most important blood tests to ask your doctor to run if you are experiencing thyroid symptoms. All too often these tests are overlooked, delaying proper diagnosis and treatment…
It took me over 5 years to be accurately diagnosed with Thyroid Disease. Looking back on it, I had so many of the common symptoms- weight gain, fatigue, low mood, a puffy looking face and always feeling cold. Despite me expressing my concerns to my doctor over the years, he always assured me my thyroid was fine because the TSH blood test always came back normal. Little did I know then, this was only 1 of the 5 important blood tests that could have been run to help assess if my thyroid was indeed properly functioning. Not only can running TSH alone miss detecting autoimmune hypothyroidism (the most common reason for slow thyroid function) but many thyroid specialists believe the interpretation of TSH is too lax, and the limit for defining hypothyroidism with this blood test should be tighter.
About Your Thyroid + Early Disease Detection
As a Naturopathic Doctor that focuses on thyroid health, I now know that many people who catch thyroid disease in the early stages with the proper testing can not only help prevent the need for life- long medication but it can also provide an opportunity for healing the thyroid, and the body- naturally.
The thyroid is a small but mighty gland located in the neck just below the larynx. In healthy individuals, the thyroid gland cannot be typically felt or seen by just looking at or touching the neck. Despite its tiny size, the thyroid is known as the “body’s thermostat” and regulator of metabolism. In fact, it produces hormones that provide energy for every one of the cells in your body! These thyroid hormones control breathing, alertness, heart function, body temperature, cholesterol level, nervous system function, how easily you gain or lose weight, skin moisture, brain development, and menstruation. Needless to say, the thyroid hormones play an incredibly significant role in the body.
9 Common Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders
One of the most common reasons for abnormal thyroid gland function in North America is the development of autoimmune thyroid disorders (AITD). When this immune disease develops in the body, antibodies develop and attack the thyroid gland. The antibodies that develop in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism are thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) and thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb). These antibodies can cause swelling and damage to the thyroid and can result in thyroid dysfunction. As previously mentioned, TSH is usually the ONLY test that is run by doctors, however by looking at the 4 other important thyroid hormones, we can understand if the thyroid gland is well.
The common signs and symptoms of low functioning thyroid are as follows:
Cold Hands and Feet
Puffiness in the Face and Neck
Constipation and or Diarrhea
Dry hair, Skin and Nails
5 Thyroid Tests Your Doctor May Be Missing
If you are experiencing any of the above, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider about running these 5 important thyroid blood tests. In my new book, Healing Your Thyroid Naturally, I discuss what to do if any of these tests come back abnormal and natural solutions to improve your thyroid health.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): This hormone, sent from the pituitary gland, should increase when thyroid hormone levels (T3 and T4) are too low in the body. Less than 4.0 to 4.5 mIU/L is indicative of an underactive thyroid gland. The normal TSH value is debated in medicine and the upper limit of TSH has consistently lowered over the last few years. The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) reports that 95 percent of people living without hypothyroidism have a TSH value of under 2.5 mIU/L. In Canada, conventional practitioners still generally adhere to the upper limit being 4.0 to 4.5 mIU/L; however, whenever I see a TSH value of over 2.5 mIU/L and the patient reports any symptoms of hypothyroidism, I definitely begin to dig a little deeper and run more blood tests.
Free T4 hormone (thyroxine): This is produced by the thyroid gland and is the biologically active form of T4. Too little T4 can indicate that the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, or it is hypoactive. Less than 9 pmol/L indicates that the thyroid gland is not making enough T4 hormone.
T3 hormone (triiodothyronine): This hormone is produced in small amounts from the thyroid but is primarily produced by converting T4 into T3 hormone in other tissues, such as the liver and kidneys. Too little T3 can indicate that the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, or it is hypoactive. However, low T3 levels can also indicate that the T4 hormone is not converting properly to T3 in the body. T3 Less than 2.6 pmol/L indicates that the thyroid gland is not making enough T3 hormones.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb): TPO is an enzyme found in the thyroid gland and helps produce thyroid hormones. High levels of TPO antibodies could indicate Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Over 30 kIU/L indicates that the body is making an abnormal number of antibodies against TPO.
Thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb): Thyroglobulin is a protein made by the thyroid gland. This test detects antibodies against this thyroid protein. High levels of thyroglobulin antibodies could indicate Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or Graves’ disease. Over 40 kIU/L indicates that the body is making an abnormal number of antibodies against Tg.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.