what are some common misdiagnosis for underactive thyroid? if a blood test comes back normal, some doctor may diagnose you as depressed and start you on antidepressants.
It Wasn’t Depression
if that doesn’t work and your thyroid level increases, the doctor my diagnose you with hypothyroidism and start you on medication Synthroid. while the drug can push the test results back into the normal range, if you still do not feel well, get a second opinion. it may be a hormone imbalance so see an endocrinologist.
A Common Struggle
thyroid disorders so hard to detect because doctors don’t agree on how to interpret screening tests. there are also several tests that check thyroid function, but many doctors use just one. in some cases, like when test results are borderline “normal,” symptoms should be given extra weight when deciding on treatment.
One Test, Many Interpretations
your thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating just about everything, including your heart rate, metabolism, muscles and mood. if your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), it’s not making enough thyroid hormone, so your body starts pumping out extra thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which makes your TSH levels high. Insufficient amounts of thyroid hormone can cause symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, chills, and dry skin, hair and nails. on the other hand, when your thyroid is making too much thyroid hormone, you’ve got an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), which causes weight loss, insomnia and anxiety. doctors differ on what should be considered normal.
also TSH screening isn’t the only one. doctors can also test for antibodies. not all doctors order this additional blood test.
some doctors also believe in measuring two forms of thyroid hormone (T3 and T4).
When Symptoms Matter More
although you may have all of the classic signs of an underactive thyroid – fatigue, weight gain, hair loss and dry skin – your TSH may still be normal, though borderline. several doctors may rule out other conditions, an endocrinologist may as different questions, giving another opinion and medication.
many doctors aren’t willing to do the same, because the symptoms of hypothyroidism can mimic issues like anemia, type 2 diabetes, sleep deprivation and depression. no one wants to overeat, since that can cause cardiovascular problems or osteoporosis.
the results of blood tests almost always determine whether or not you have an underactive or overactive thyroid, but sometimes it makes sense to give symptoms more weight than you would otherwise. other health problems must be ruled out, a patient’s TSH must be borderline, and she should have symptoms as well as other signs that point to a thyroid disorder.
Getting To the Bottom of It
since it can be so hard to get the right diagnosis and treatment, you may have to be your own advocate. here are some timps:
- Know Your TSH Number. most primary care doctors say that a TSH level between 0.5 and 5.0 mIU/L is normal. but many endocrinologists use a narrower, lower range (between 0.3 and 3.0). so know your number.
- See a Good Endocrinologist. find one who treats people with a wide range of hormone conditions, including diabetes and adrenal gland problems. you want one that treats other conditions so they can see other causes as well.
- If Your TSH is Borderline, Ask for a Repeat Test and an Anti-TPO Test. TSH levels can fluctuate from day to day. Wait 4 to 6 weeks for a follow-up test. the anti-TPO test will reveal whether you have Hashimoto’s disease.
- Rule Out Other Health Conditions. make sure you also get a blood glucose test for diabetes, a ferritin test for anemia and a mental health screening for depression.
If you have hypothyroidism, taking a thyroid hormone replacement medication is a must. but there are things you can do to help those meds work better:
- Eat Foods Rich in Selenium. This mineral helps convert thyroid hormone into a form that your cells can use, i.e. Brazil nuts, seeds and grains, chicken, brown rice and eggs. Don’t overdo it if you’re at risk for diabetes – some studies show that selenium raises your risk.
- Tell Your Doctor or Pharmacist About Any Other Drugs You Take.
Some antidepressants can affect how much thyroid hormone you need and blood thinners can become more potent if you’re taking thyroid medication.
- Be Careful with Antacids that Contain Calcium or Aluminum. They can also block the absorption of thyroid hormone. Wait at least an hour after taking your thyroid meds before you reach for one. Waiting 4 hours may be even safer.
- Don’t Take Your Thyroid Medication at the Same Time as Calcium or Iron Supplements. Both nutrients can prevent thyroid hormone from being properly absorbed, so take them at least 1 hour apart.
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