Even with all of our gains toward equality as a society, a sad truth is that women are still constantly dismissed or overlooked by the medical system.
How many of us have been to the doctor only to be told to relax, or take more time for yourself, or just give it time?
It is humiliating to feel dismissed and ignored when the symptoms you are dealing with are very real; I know because I was one of them! I am here to empower you to expect the care that you deserve and become the CEO of your health to get yourself back to wellness!
What Is Thyroid Dysfunction?
It’s hard to tell how many of us are dealing with thyroid disorders because of how often they are missed or misdiagnosed. How about a shocking estimate? Up to 20 million people in America today could be dealing with thyroid dysfunction. Unfortunately, up to 60% of those have no idea that their myriad symptoms have the thyroid as a root cause. (1)
Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are numerous and tied to every system of your body. If you are coming short in explaining the root cause of your symptoms, or if you feel like doctors are just dismissing you, it’s time to trust your intuition. Get armed with the details and go in prepared to be the CEO of your healthcare. You need to insist on a full thyroid panel.
At first, I thought my symptoms (brain fog, fatigue, IBS, weight gain, etc.); were caused by chronic stress. It wasn’t until I dove deeper into my thyroid testing that we found the real reasons behind my symptoms. It is an embarrassing thing for me to admit because I missed it myself. I knew that chronic stress was a weakness and what my tell-tale symptoms are; but I had no idea the deeper root cause of thyroid dysfunction; and how that only served to exacerbate the other symptoms!
Empower yourself by learning about each aspect of the thyroid’s functions and hormones; and be aware that autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s can be hiding behind even “normal” panels that most general practitioners run!
That’s why it took me so long to come to my diagnosis. The thyroid levels on my typical panels came back looking great. It wasn’t until I worked with a trusted doctor to investigate deeper; and find that my body was attacking my thyroid with antibodies.
Full Thyroid Panel
While most general practitioners will only check your levels of TSH, free T4; and T3 (either free or total), there are a few more tests that will show a larger window of your overall thyroid health. Insist on these and also do not trust the so-called “normal” parameters; or let the doctors tell you that because you are within the “normal” that you are fine. What is normal for one person may not be normal for you; especially if you are close to the lower or higher end of the range.
Here are all of the things I recommend you have tested; if you feel like your thyroid could be out of balance:
1. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): Your pituitary gland produces TSH, which stimulates the production of T3 and T4.
2. Total T3 and T4: Secreted by the thyroid gland as an inactive hormone; T4 levels in your body trigger the pituitary gland to either stop or continue producing TSH. T3 is converted from T4 by the liver and other tissues; and is the hormone that affects just about every process in your body.
3. Free T3 and free T4: Free T4 is an indicator of how your thyroid is functioning since it is the hormone produced directly by the gland; that is awaiting transformation to T3 for use. Free T3 is the hormone that is not bound to a protein; and is available to be used by the body. Having an appropriate balance of free T3 and free T4 can be an indicator of both thyroid function; and accurate communication between your thyroid and pituitary gland.
4. Reverse T3 (rT3): This inactive form of T3 is produced when the body conserves its energy while converting T4 to T3. Low levels can develop into hypothyroidism; while if you have too much it can keep your cells from receiving the necessary T3.
5. T3 uptake: Testing your body’s T3 uptake would allow you and your doctor to see how your body is able to process the T3 hormone; putting it to use in various systems.
6. TGAb and TPO antibodies: The presence of one or both of these antibodies indicates a Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis. These antibodies are created when your body sees the thyroid; and its hormones as invaders and begins to attack them.
7. Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG): This protein is responsible for circulating the thyroid hormone through your body’s systems. Varying levels of TBG in your bloodstream affect how your body is able to transform the T4 to T3 and put the T3 to use.
Once you have your results, a trusted doctor can help you understand what is going on in your body. It is important to have all of these areas tested so you can have a full understanding; of where the disconnect could be happening. Unbalanced TSH, free T3, and free T4 could show that your pituitary gland is not telling your thyroid to produce hormones; because of an imbalance in your HPA axis. Or you could have a sluggish thyroid because of inflammation, toxins, stress; or other root causes, indicated by low total T3 and T4 levels.
Autoimmune diseases can account for a large number of thyroid dysfunctions as well; so having those TGAb and TPO antibodies checked is critical – it was the key for me! My T3, T4, and TSH levels all looked fine, but because of some hidden infections and leaky gut problems; my body began targeting my thyroid as an intruder.
Discovering a full picture of what was going on below the surface and beyond typical tests; was absolutely necessary to receive my diagnosis. My hope is that you will feel confident approaching your doctor with this knowledge; so you can also find the answers you need to get thyroid back on track and you feeling amazing.
Free Lab Testing Reference Guide!
Ready to get the full picture on what is happening with your hormones? Grab this comprehensive reference guide to learn my top hormone labs to ask your doctor for!