Lab Tests Don’t Always Detect Thyroid Dysfunction
Diagnosing and treating thyroid dysfunction requires a physician committed to finding the root cause, says Dr. Peter Kan.
Thyroid dysfunction affects an estimated 20 million Americans, and about one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime; yet up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can include low thyroid symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, lack of motivation, mental sluggishness, cold hands and feet, hair loss or dry brittle hair, outer third of eyebrow thinning and dry skin. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, include heart palpitations, inward trembling, insomnia, nervous, emotional, night sweats and difficulty gaining weight.
Some people experience both hypo and hyper thyroid symptoms. This is usually an indication of Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease where the immune system is attacking the thyroid gland. This leads to progressive thyroid gland destruction and hypo function, interspersed with hyper thyroid symptoms. According to the Endocrine Society, up to 90 percent of thyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s. If someone has not been diagnosed with Hashimoto's, they may be wondering why their doctor has not mentioned or even tested for it using a simple blood test for thyroid peroxidase antibody and thyroglobulin antibody. Both must be tested for, because people can be positive for one and not the other. The reason most doctors don’t test for Hashimoto’s is because the current model for thyroid treatment is focused solely on managing the lab values, rather than treating the root cause.
Most physicians, either medical or natural, treat everyone with thyroid problems with hormone replacements such as Synthroid or levothyroxine, which are synthetic hormones, or patients are given bioidentical hormones such as Armour or Naturethroid and told that they are better than synthetic. The truth is that none of these hormone replacement therapies address the root cause of the thyroid dysfunction, which can be one of 24 different underlying causes, with the autoimmune mechanism being the most common.
This explains why so many people continue to suffer with thyroid symptoms even though they are taking thyroid medications and lab tests may be normal. In order to receive the right treatment, look for a doctor that understands and takes the time to investigate the root cause, not just prescribing a hormone pill. Finally, if suffering with thyroid symptoms, we must take charge of our health by learning how the thyroid works and learning how to reset our hormones.
Dr. Peter Kan is board certified in integrative medicine and chiropractic neurology. His practice at 3336 E. Chandler Heights Rd., Ste. 123, in Gilbert, is nationally known for treating complex neurological and metabolic conditions. For appointments or to attend a free informational class, call 480-988-6269. For more information, visit AskDrKan.com.