I break down Thyroid Disease Types & Diagnosis in this video 👇
Read more about Thyroid Disease at: carynrich.com/have-you-had-your-thyroid-checked/
I’ve had a very long history with thyroid disease that started over ten years ago when we tried to have our second child. Twenty plus million Americans suffer from thyroid disease a year. It’s very frustrating when you know that there’s something wrong and your doctor will not listen to your complaints, and you don’t know what to do or where to turn.
Before we get into this any further, let’s break down the two different thyroid problem types. The first is called Hypothyroidism, which is an underactive or low thyroid. .3-.4% of the population suffer from this kind. In other words, it doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone that it needs to function correctly. There is a subclinical form of Hypothyroidism that 4.3% to 8.5% of Americans suffer from, called Hashimoto’s disease. Guys, that is a large number, wouldn’t you say? Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune condition, which attacks your thyroid. It is the number one cause of Hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease after my third child was born, but I had problems way before then. Typically it is treated with Thyroxin, a.k.a. Synthroid. There are different names for the generic form, but Synthroid is the primary medicine used.
When your thyroid is underactive, your thyroxine levels are normal, but your TSH is high. There are a lot of different components that you need to have checked through your blood work. You don’t necessarily have a disease when you have that mild or subclinical form, but it still may need treatment if your TSH is high. Some symptoms you may suffer from are low cold tolerance, exhaustion, constipation, depression, and weight gain.
The other kind is called Hyperthyroidism. 1.2% of the US population suffers from this type. Its cause is excessive production of the thyroid hormone. One of the leading reasons for Hyperthyroidism (up to 50 to 80% of the cases) is graves’ disease. Doctors treat this form of the problem with beta-blockers, radioactive iodine, or Anti-Thyroid medicine (like methimazole). The use of armor and nature thyroid is not recommended or approved at this point, although I do know others who swear by these meds. When you are Hyperthyroidism, you suffer muscle weakness, irritability, sleeping difficulties, a fast heartbeat, weight loss, and heat intolerance.
Now that we know the two types of thyroid problems, I want you to know that having a thyroid issue is enough to drive you crazy. You know that something’s not right, but your healthcare provider may not be on the same page. You’re tired all the time, like dead tired, pregnancy tired, yet you’re not pregnant. I want you to know that you’re not crazy; you may have a thyroid issue that you should address. If your gut is telling you it may be an issue, go and have it checked.
Now I am not a doctor, nor am I making any diagnoses here. I’m just giving you the information that I have found helpful in my journey with Hypothyroidism. There are two different schools of thought in diagnosing these diseases. You may go to have the bloodwork, and the lab you went to say nothing is out of range. For example, I had a TSH of five, and that still fit into the box of “normal,” yet my body told me otherwise. Five is not normal, and I’ll get to what normal is in a second. Frequently doctors, even some Endocrinologists, who should be ashamed of themselves, look at these standards and say, Oh, you’re within range. When, first of all, everybody’s body is different, and somebody who may be well over two when they have Hypothyroidism may not feel like I did and may feel ok. When my thyroid is over two, I feel awful. The second thing is you need to find yourself a doctor who listens to you and not only treats the blood work but treats the symptoms and the person. It is super hard to find a doctor who does this, which is why I suggest you see a specialist who thinks outside the box. Unfortunately, this is sometimes super hard to find.
60% of people suffering symptoms on either side of the spectrum are unaware that their cause is due to their thyroid. I find this super interesting because that means that the right people may not get diagnosed properly. That, to me, is crazy! Also, one in eight women will suffer from a thyroid disorder at one point in their lives. It is such an easy fix but only if you are correctly diagnosed.
So let’s get to the numbers, but, again, I am NOT a doctor. These are the numbers that I live by but, that doesn’t mean that’s good for you. Those numbers listed on lab documents never worked for me. So what is considered normal? TSH is deemed normal in my circles and many of my friends when it is between 0.1 to 1.5. Suppose that if it’s within that range if you’re hyper or hypo, it’s usually a reasonable range for you. And again, going to differ from what you see on lab standards. TPO antibodies, which are your thyroid antibodies, anything over 20 is considered positive in terms of having a thyroid attacking disease. I should mention that I have read that anything over zero is abnormal and means that your thyroid can be under attack by your body. Your free T3 should be between 3.5 to 4.3. Your total T3 should be between 140-175, and your free T4, .8 to 1.8.
Now, guys, you can all Google this for yourselves; I’m not making this up. I’m not telling you what’s normal for you, but I can tell you that most times, what is on those lab forms does not work for most people I know who have a thyroid issue. As I side note, I am one who believes that you need to be on medication. I’m sure that many people choose to address their thyroid solely in other ways, but I feel better on medication, but you do whatever’s best for you.
What can you do to control your thyroid symptoms?
Change your diet:
The first thing that came to my mind was Kelly Clarkson. A few years ago, her face was on every magazine cover, saying, “I went on the Thyroid diet to lose my excess weight.” Supposedly she slimmed down without any exercise and just by changing what she was eating. Taking certain foods out of your diet can help us when it comes to our thyroids in addition to medication. So what does a “Thyroid Diet” look like, you ask? It consists of avoiding certain foods like gluten, which are proven to be helpful if you have an immune condition, which Hashimoto’s is. Getting rid of gluten can be the best thing for you. There are also some known foods and supplements that you can add that are helpful to your body. Things like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, fish oil, ginger, and vitamin B are all recommended.
Making sure that you’re getting your thyroid retested often is also super important. I think most endocrinologists have you come back every six months, depends on how stable you’ve been. It might be yearly with some doctors, but you need to have that thyroid regularly tested because those numbers can fluctuate. If you are experiencing any symptoms that suddenly appear, you can also contact your doctor to see if your numbers are out of whack. If you’re pregnant or planning on being pregnant and suspect that you have an issue, those numbers need checking ASAP and monthly after that. When I was pregnant, there were always adjustments made because your thyroid is essential to check when you’re trying to get pregnant, and while you’re pregnant. If not, your thyroid can cause pregnancy failure or miscarriage if not kept in check
Lowering your stress:
Stress can also affect your thyroid, just like it can severely affect many parts of your body. Stress is the worst thing for your body, and we are all affected by it. Try reducing your stress by doing something that you enjoy, like meditating or exercising. Any way that you can find to reduce that stress can be beneficial.
If there is anything you can take away from me today, I hope that it is that with any doctor, not just an endocrinologist, that you stick your ground. If something’s not right, if you’re not feeling right, you need to keep pushing until you get the testing you need. I needed to do just that when I saw my TSH go from two to four to five to seven. My GP insisted that’s within normal range and refused to put me on thyroid medication. When I did get put on thyroid medication, magically, after eight years of fertility treatments, I got pregnant naturally with my third child. What I’m saying is always push and always advocate for yourself. Doctors are great, but you also need to insist on what’s right for you.
I have many friends who have talked me off of a bridge, and I’ve spoken them off of bridges because we weren’t getting the right amount of thyroid medication. Once diagnosed, you know, when your thyroid is off, it looks different for each person. For me, when my TSH is too low, I get heart palpitations, and when it’s too high, all I want to do is sleep. Feeling that way can be depressing.
I hope you now know that it’s ok to push back on your doctor if you have symptoms and suspect that it’s a thyroid problem. Don’t just blindly trust those numbers because there’s so much more at play. Your signs and a full blood panel, not just TSH, must be ordered. What your feeling along with your antibodies, your T3, your T4, your free T3 will allow for a more accurate diagnosis.
Please share this information with anybody who thinks their symptoms match up. I genuinely hope that if your thyroid is the problem, that you can get the help with your diagnosis that you need.