With World Thyroid Day here, we should all give homage to the wonderful little organ that sits in our neck and acts like the engine to our human automobile : “The Body”. However, approxiatley 1 in 3 women will have a thyroid disorder by the time they hit 50. Most doctors will miss the diagnosis if they just use the standard TSH screening test. As a medical profession we have lost the skill of history taking and physical exam in making the diagnosis of hypothyroidism.
Many women come in with extreme fatigue, weight gain, sore muscles and joints as well as hair loss and cold intolerance. Their symptoms are screaming “hypothyroidism”.Then when you examine them, they have a slow heart rate, cold extremities, swollen neck which are clinical indicators of hypothyroidism. Then the doctors look at the TSH and if it is normal, they say” You don’t have a thyroid disorder” This is extrememly frustrating for patients and they have a reason to be so.
What happened to the good ole fashion skills of a doctor. They rely on this screening test and it is not the most reliable indicator especially if the women is also having Testosterone or Estrogen deficineny to boot. These hormones hang out together and get in trouble together. One must look at T3, T4 and reverse T3 levels to get a true indicator of the thyroid function and take it into consideration to their symptoms.
Hypothyroidism not only causing patients to feel terrible, but is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, inflammatory conditions and cancers…including breast cancer. We should be taking a much careful look at the thyroid function in our patients not only to give them a better quality of life, but also to prevent the conditions that can cause it to stop short.
Patients should seek medical professionals who fully understand the role of thyroid and how to properly test and look for it. It is too important not to.