But My Doctor Told Me My Levels Were Normal
Thyroid hormone is a metabolic hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. It is responsible for regulating our temperature, metabolism and cerebral function. It can also help protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol. Problems associated with the thyroid gland are most commonly production problems whether that is too much or too little thyroid hormone production. Thyroid levels do naturally decline as we age, similar to other hormones. This situation is not considered a true hypothyroidism but rather a thyroid insufficiency. Thyroid hormone is produced in the thyroid gland as T4 and is then converted into the active form of the hormone called T3. It is the T3 that is responsible for the actions of thyroid hormone. In addition to production problems, there are secondary issues that may lead to a decline in the function of thyroid hormone. These include resistance of the receptor cells or blocking of the receptors and a decline in the body’s ability to convert T4 into T3.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is the condition where there is too little thyroid hormone production. The cause may be considered primary where the production is decreased due a genetic predisposition, development of autoimmune responses (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis), or thyroid tumors. Other causes of low thyroid hormone can be due to a decrease in the conversion of T4 to T3 as well as resistance to T3 at the cellular level. The most common symptoms for low thyroid levels are:
- weight gain
- slowed thinking
- sensitivity to cold
- hair loss
- depressed mood
- brittle nails
What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is the condition where the levels of thyroid hormone are too high. The symptoms for high thyroid levels are:
- Weight loss
How Are Thyroid Levels Assessed?
All of our patients at Prestige Medical Rejuvenation Center undergo an initial set of labs to check the hormone levels in their blood. Traditionally the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) level is followed. If it is elevated and the T4 is low the patient is diagnosed with hypothyroidism. If the TSH is low and the T4 is elevated they are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. But, we take it a step further and follow the patient’s level of the active hormone T3. The majority of thyroid hormones in the circulation are bound to a storage protein, thyroid binding globulin; only the unbound or free hormone is available for activity. So, we follow the Free T3 level and aim to optimize this value in the upper end of the normal range.
My Doctor Says My Thyroid Labs Are Normal
Many patients continue to experience symptoms of low thyroid hormone despite being told that their labs are “normal”. This may be due to the decreased conversion of T4 to T3 or receptor resistance as mentioned above. There is another subset of patients that were diagnosed with hypothyroidism and placed on synthetic T4 products such as Synthroid or Levothyroxine that continue to experience their symptoms despite having their labs return to “normal” while taking the medication. How can this be? One must not forget the secondary causes of thyroid insufficiency mentioned above. The decreased ability to convert T4 to T3 and/or the receptor cell resistance/blocking can be the culprit of normal labs and continued symptoms. Additionally, most physicians only check the TSH and T4 levels and do not check the Free T3. Most of the thyroid hormone is bound by a protein called thyroid binding globulin and is inactive. Unless a physician orders a lab measuring the unbound/free amount of the hormone he could be misled into thinking everything is “normal”. By optimizing the Free T3 many patients are able to alleviate their symptoms.
How Do I Get My Thyroid Levels Optimal?
At Prestige Medical Rejuvenation Center we recommend our patients that are experiencing hypothyroidism symptoms take a natural thyroid hormone that contains both T4 and T3. These are commercially available as Armour Thyroid, Nature-Thyroid and Westhroid. We adjust the dosing stepwise until the Free T3 level is optimized or the patient experiences symptom relief. Call us today at 402-334-5433 to see if you are a good candidate for thyroid optimization.