When people go for a yearly doctor’s checkup, they usually receive a requisition for lab work. At that time, their doctor says, “We’ll call you if there are any abnormal results.” This may seem okay, but what if your doctor is not reviewing your results using updated guidelines?
I often see patients, women especially, complaining of fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, depression and other symptoms of low thyroid function, who saw their doctor only to be told that everything was normal. If this sounds like you or a close friend, you may want to keep reading.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Thyroid function is tested initially by measuring the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and it signals the thyroid to produce hormones responsible for regulating metabolism. TSH tells the thyroid what to do in response to what is going on in the body. When the body senses that there is too much thyroid hormone, TSH levels drop and stop telling the thyroid to produce this hormone. Conversely, when the thyroid is underactive, TSH is high because the brain senses that the thyroid needs to jump into action and up the amount of thyroid hormone in the body.
In 2002, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists re-established the guidelines for “normal” TSH levels. Up to this time, the normal value for TSH was 0.5 to 4.0. TSH values over 4.0 suggested an underactive thyroid. The association changed the normal range for TSH to 0.3 – 3.0 meaning far more people may have been suffering from undiagnosed low thyroid function.
It’s 2015 and the labs have not changed their range for TSH!
If you have the opportunity to see your test result, you will notice that beside your level is the range for what is normal and abnormal. Results are usually highlighted and easy to see. The problem with TSH is that the guidelines for normal were changed 13 years ago and labs are still using the old normal range. Because of this, few doctors are aware of the new guideline for thyroid function.
Ask for your results
I always recommend patients request copies of their blood work results for their own records. This not only gives you a personal health record to access should your doctor not be available, but it also allows you to keep a watchful eye on your own health. Healthcare professionals are there to help you, but at the end of the day, you are your own best health advocate.
At Bronte Wellness Boutique, we help Oakville area patients achieve optimal thyroid function. For more information, or to book an appointment with one of our Naturopathic Doctors, please contact our Bronte clinic for details.