Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Please take some time this week to say thank you to the wonderful teachers in your life and your kids’ life. But I also want you to understand that a teacher isn’t just someone with a teaching degree. Teachers are people who are willing to share their knowledge with others. Try being a teacher this week to your doctor and share the following information they may not know about thyroid dysfunction.
The TSH test is not the best thyroid marker.This may be a hard topic to broach, but it is an important one. The TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test has been used since the early 1970’s and is currently referred to as the “gold standard” in thyroid testing. Recently there have been some adjustments to the test and it is being referred to as the “New Sensitive TSH Test” which can show very low levels of TSH even when the thyroid is overactive. While this may seem like an improvement, it is still inadequate. The fact that it doesn’t test the thyroid itself is problematic and because it takes the TSH so long to be affected an individual may be suffering a long time before the TSH falls out of range.
Symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately many doctors dismiss symptoms when they can’t find the underlying problem, chalking it up to the individual being a hypochondriac or needing an antidepressant. This is unacceptable! This is like telling your child, “I know you said your head hurts, but I don’t see anything so you must be lying!” or the very common, “You don’t look sick” insinuating you must be fine. You are not just a lab test, but a person who knows that something just isn’t right with your body and just because one test was ran and came back inconclusive doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
T4 treatment doesn’t work for everyone. Thankfully we are starting to see this mindset change. More doctors are beginning understand that not everyone responds the same way to medication and different formulations need to be tried. It’s important to explain to your doctor that T4-only medications don’t work on individuals that have a conversion issue and sometimes a combination or straight T3 formula is necessary. If they understand that symptoms are important, this can help you find the correct dose of thyroid medication.
You have the ability to fire them. Now this must be done in the most respectful way possible, but your physician needs to understand that you can fire them as your doctor. Most patients are afraid of what their doctor will say or that they’ll dismiss them, but you have that same power. Your doctor needs to be willing to work with you and find out the cause of your symptoms as well as give a medication that will actually help.
As you appreciate the many teachers in your life this week, remember to be a teacher as well. Thyroid conditions can be confusing even for doctors so there is nothing wrong with you doing research and trying to be a teacher. Just find a good doctor that’s willing to look at various studies and be a good student.
Do you have another thyroid lesson for your doctor? Share it in the comment section below.