Did you know that thyroid disease can cause unexplained weight gain and fatigue? It can also cause depression, hair loss, anxiety, dry skin and poor memory. When tested randomly, at least 10% of adults are found to have thyroid disease.
The funny thing is, many with typical symptoms of a thyroid disorder are tested and found to have ‘normal’ thyroid function. Furthermore many being treated for thyroid disease still have many of the symptoms remain.
Why is it that so many people who have symptoms are not diagnosed? And why are many individuals who are diagnosed with thyroid disease and receiving treatment not feeling better?
Simply put, the shortcoming is in the “normal range” numbers of the thyroid tests that most doctors rely on. Laboratory ranges can be determined by consensus of experts or by simply averaging scores.
For blood sugar levels, for example, panels of researchers review glucose levels in people who have become diabetic and compared it to what their blood sugar levels were in the years preceding their diagnosis. Those whose morning fasting blood sugar levels are under 99 were found to have lower rates of becoming diabetic. Therefore 99 is considered the upper limit of the “normal range”.
For thyroid disease the ranges are simply averages. What this means is that a lab will review 10,000 scores from a thyroid test and create a high and low range based on this group. The low range is the lowest 2.5% of scores and high range is the highest 2.5%.
The problem with this method is that these normal values are only reflective of whomever is being tested. Who gets a thyroid test done? Primarily two groups: those known to have thyroid disease and those suspected of having it. These two groups should not be expected to have the same thyroid blood levels as those with optimal thyroid function, yet this is the assumption inherent in the normal ranges.
So what is the solution? If you or someone you love has symptoms of thyroid disease, such as weight they can’t lose or unexplained fatigue and depression, don’t give up when the family doctor runs a test, then says everything is fine. Push harder and work with a doctor who will listen and understands the shortcomings of relying only on test reference ranges.
Whether you have thyroid disease or not, here are a few easy steps everyone can take to improve your thyroid function:
1. Get the Right Amount of Iodine. This is easy, you know the little girl with the umbrella on your salt? You want iodized salt for use at home. Sea salt can also be found in iodized forms. All the extra salt we get in processed foods and at restaurants has no iodine. Eat seafood, any kind helps. Have some seaweed every now and then like Nori found on sushi. Take a multi that contains about 100 mcg of iodine. Avoid very high doses of iodine found in kelp and iodine supplements. Too much is as bad or worse than too little.
2. Minimize Mercury. Seafood is great but be aware of high-mercury seafood. The biggest no-no is don’t eat tuna daily. The most complete current data is from the FDA: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html Avoid mercury amalgams. Getting new fillings? Get porcelain or ceramic. Got old ones that the dentist says should go? Get them out and ask us about ways to detox.
3. Avoid Perchlorate. This is a toxic by product from rocket and jet fuels. It also forms spontaneously in the arid Southwest soil and ends up in our water. We absorb it from our skin and intestines. Once in our bodies it prevents our thyroid glands from absorbing iodine. Solutions: drink purified water only, not tap water. Ideally use a filter for your shower also.
In the case of suspected thyroid disease or any other symptom, never assume that you need to suffer. Educate yourself and take action. You deserve to feel your best!
(c) 2009 – Integrative Health Care, PC