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Generally Feeling a Bit Rubbish? Let’s Look at Your Thyroid…

Most of our ladies coming in for breast scans also have other health worries so we also do a lot of half or full body scans.  It’s interesting how often there is increased or decreased heat over the thyroid area leading to the recommendation of further testing. So we thought we’d let you know of our experiences as this is currently an area where a little bit of education can go a long way.  So let us tell you our story and our medical advisor Dr Rajendra Sharma can fill in the gaps!

The thyroid gland in the neck makes hormones to help regulate the body’s metabolism.

An overactive thyroid can make you feel anxious, be hyperactive and experience unexpected weight loss.

An underactive thyroid can make you feel tired, cold, depressed and gain weight.

I (Terri) have always felt the cold more than others – jumpers in summer! –  and struggled with getting out of bed in the morning and losing weight.  Pretty common symptoms and I just put it down to life.  It’s only when I had other health issues (breast cancer) that I became interested in the role of hormones and decided to have them tested.  I started with my GP who was happy to give me a thyroid test – this is a blood test to show TSH – thyroid stimulating hormone – levels.  If your TSH is high it shows your body is trying to kick your underactive thyroid into action and you might benefit from some help.

My results came back as ‘normal’.  Having read a few books on this subject by now I asked for the exact figure – 4.5mlU/l.  The reference range here in the UK is  0 – 5 mlU/l.  But I had all the typical underactive thyroid symptoms so might my thyroxine levels in fact have been sub-normal?  Well one of the problems is where you live.  Some authorities around the world consider that the reference ranges should be 0 – 3 mlU/l….. so I would have been eligible for treatment.  Also, we’re all different.  A reference range is just that, so what is normal for one person might not be for another. I think it’s probably worth everyone having a thyroid test in their 20s or early 30s when they’re feeling good just to see what their ‘normal’ is to compare against in the future.

I felt that my GP couldn’t help if I chose to go against the more conventional view.  I decided to go to a hormone specialist in London – I wish I’d known about Dr Sharma then as he’s based right here in Exeter as well as London so I could have saved myself a train fare and the London prices!  The results were worth every penny.

My TSH, T3 & T4 hormones were tested and it was decided that I would benefit from a very small dose of Thyroxine supplement.  Well, what a difference!  I felt 10 years younger and wished I’d had the tests done sooner.  I know some people use natural methods to help with their thyroid so this is something I have discussed with Dr Sharma.

Basically my advice would be, if you have any of the symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid it’s well worth further investigation.

Dr Sharma comments:

Terri’s experience is far from unusual. The British Society for Ecological Medicine, a group of like-minded physicians and scientists, have prepared a statement regarding the prescribing of thyroid replacement and that can be read about here: http://www.drsharmadiagnostics.com/prescribing_thyroid_hormones.htm

There are many reasons for thyroid dysfunction, ranging from infection, inflammation, a ‘leaky gut syndrome’ genetic variations and stress. In functional medicine the focus is on looking for underlying cause of conditions and so investigating why a thyroid has become dysfunctional is as important as thyroxine rebalancing.

Terri makes an important point regarding results being quoted in a ‘reference range’ and not necessarily being ‘normal’ for an individual. It is a controversial area but for those who have many thyroid symptoms they may well benefit from new and emerging opinions.

Functional Health Screening can send a home test kit for the two main thyroid hormones, T4 & T3, and if the results are abnormal or at the top or bottom end of the reference range then FHS can take a blood sample for a much broader range of markers.

Treatment may involve nutritional supplementation of the thyroid, thyroxine replacement, consideration of investigating and repairing thyroxine or TSH receptors and working on auto-immunity.