Are you taking thyroid medication but still have a lot of symptoms such as an inability to lose weight, fatigue, hair loss, cold intolerance, etc.? If so, this indicates suboptimal thyroid treatment. This is very common because most doctors will slavishly rely on the TSH lab test to guide treatment. However, I have a secret indicator that is rarely used by doctors any more but has proven to be 100% accurate.
LISTEN TO THE PATIENT!
Symptoms should be the guide when determining treatment but here are some useful pointers:
1. Do not rely solely on the TSH test. While this might irk some physicians, I have found that the TSH test is just not a reliable indicator of how patients feel. I think that symptom improvement and the patient’s overall sense of feeling better are more important than getting the TSH into a reference range. Plus, the TSH test is not the most sensitive test for determining tissue levels of thyroid hormone which is what really matters.
2. Most people will need a combination T4 and T3 containing medication. Now, let’s think about this for a minute. A healthy thyroid gland produces two main hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triidothyronine). So, all of us that do not have thyroid disease are producing, from the thyroid gland, T4 and T3. If that is what our thyroid gland would do if it is healthy, wouldn’t we want to try to mimic that with medication? Unfortunately, that only rarely happens. Nearly every newly diagnosed patient will be started on Synthroid (generic name Levothyroxine). This medication only contains T4 and ZERO T3. T3 regulates metabolic function, body temperature, body fat, cholesterol, mental function and energy while T4 is more or less a storage form of the hormone that needs to be converted to T3 in order for it to be used by the body. The theory is that the body will be able to adequately convert T4 into T3 to be used, but recent research has shown that T4-only supplementation often does not allow for adequate conversion to T3 and therefore many patients still feel lousy.
3. There is a difference between “normal” and “optimal”. Most physicians think that no matter how patients feel, if their numbers are “normal” then they are being adequately treated. However, studies show that supplementing thyroid hormones into the upper ranges of "normal" produced improved cognitive function, metabolic function, energy, memory and overall welbeing.
Over 30 million Americans (mostly women) are trying to make it through life with sub-optimal thyroid function. By properly testing and treating, most of them can achieve symptom improvement and an improved state of health. After optimizing thyroid treatment, I have had multiple patients say that they haven’t felt this good for 10 years. They demonstrate improved energy, fat loss, appearance of their skin, cognitive function and elimination of depression. It is sad to think that millions more people out there feel like they are run down and not as vibrant as they could be. It’s time to get patients' lives back through optimized thyroid functioning!