things to know about your thyroid
The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine tissues in your body and its name stems from a Greek word meaning shield, to reflect its shape, similar to a butterfly as well. It sits just beneath your “Adam’s Apple” and can be felt when enlarged in some people that is called a “goiter”. The National Institutes of Health endocrine division estimates that 5% of the United States population suffers from hypothyroidism, of which most our women. Interestingly, generic Synthroid, a thyroid pharmaceutical medication, is the 4 th most common prescribed drug in the US, with 70.5 million prescriptions, in 2010! Do you have symptoms of hypothyroidism?
- Hair loss (thinning and/or dryness)
- Weight gain
- Cold hands/feet
- Memory or concentration problems
- Puffy face
The American Thyroid Association recommends blood testing starting at age 35 years and continuing every 5 years, as probably goes up with age for problems. However, earlier testing should occur sooner if symptomatic or have had past thyroid disorders, have an autoimmune disease, pregnancy or delivery in past 6 months, Turner syndrome, or radiation to neck or chest.
Choosing a holistic doctor is important when testing your thyroid, because conventional medicine only recommends testing of one marker, rather than a “full panel”. Usually, mainstream doctors are only looking at TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to determine if your thyroid is imbalance. Although, TSH is actually coming from your pituitary gland telling your thyroid to make hormones, which are T3 and T4. Hormones made in the body then get bound to protein to travel to other sites, some of the hormone stays “free” to be used by the body, and it is important to test this free fraction of T3 and T4 to get an accurate assessment. Your TSH can be in normal range, and you can still have a thyroid problem when looking at these other hormones. A wonderful book for both patients and practitioners is Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms by Dr. Datis Kharrazian. There are yet even a few other markers that your doctor may want to look at. Most importantly, to note, is that many people who suffer from hypothyroidism, actually have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, in which antibody testing is required.
This article is meant to inform, and not suggest any diagnosis. If you are concerned about your body, please find a doctor in your area to work with, often Naturopathic Doctors and Chiropractors are more educated with this information. Remember, you can change your health!