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It’s frustrating when you know that something feels wrong, but your tests aren’t showing it. Today’s article is all about symptoms and thyroid lab tests, and what you should do if your labs say you’re normal, or even optimal, but you still don’t feel quite right.
It has gotten to the point where some doctors even go and ignore labs altogether, and start to adjust medication based on symptoms. They assume that if you have symptoms including:
- Hair Loss
- Weight gain
It means that you simply need more thyroid and there is nothing more to it. And, in some cases, thyroid can help, but that help won’t last if it is not the real culprit or at the root of the issue.
Today, I want to share some insights that should help you sort through this. This way, when your symptoms and your lives aren’t necessarily in sync, you’ll know what to do (maybe you want to kick things off with a second opinion? If so, feel free to click this link).
As a generalization, you can have symptoms from your thyroid, in just about either direction, and just about any symptom under the sun.
What I mean by that is that your labs might suggest that you are getting too much hormone, and you can feel like you are getting too little.
In short, the symptoms of too little thyroid medication can often feel the same as the symptoms for too much thyroid medication.
Key Insight: Too much thyroid can often feel like too little thyroid.
It can make you feel tired, it can make weight gain easier, it can contribute to hair loss. It could cause all these issues, and it’s hard to know whether it’s too much or too little.
And the opposite can occur, too. You can have too little thyroid and feel like you are getting way too much. Some can feel anxious, have their heart racing, or sweats and tremors.
It can happen, and I have learned never to assume that someone has too much or too little, simply based on their symptoms (Read More: Don’t ignore these 11 thyroid symptoms).
But, the key point here is that, if you have symptoms, something is most certainly wrong. Your symptoms are real, but we need to get to the bottom of why they are happening.
Bottom Line: We can’t assume, based on symptoms alone, that you definitely need more or less thyroid to feel better on a long-term basis. We can’t even completely assume that they are tied to your thyroid in the first place.
Thyroid Hormones & Thyroid Symptoms
We can think of our thyroid hormones in two distinct ways:
- How much your body has, and
- How your body uses them
If you don’t use them well, even having the right amounts won’t resolve your symptoms. We call this the resistance of thyroid hormone, or issues with ‘peripheral activation.’
This doesn’t always show up in markers like T3, reverse T3, or TSH, but we know that it is relevant when your symptoms and thyroid disease have come about.
So, what do you do if you have thyroid resistance?
The biggest single factor is your ongoing iodine intake. If there was an iodine excess, and it is still present, that is one of the things that makes your thyroid hormone resistant.
As I cover in the Thyroid Reset Diet (Click Here: Grab your own copy today), you’re best served working to get in that ‘green light’ reset range. Once you have been there for two to three months, you should be able to see some of those resistance-based issues start to go away.
The Common Thyroid Cycle
Here’s an all-to-common cycle that gets people stuck. They are getting too much thyroid hormone, but they feel like they are getting too little.
They are tired, and their TSH is just below range (or bottom end of range). And, yet, they are given more thyroid hormone to help alleviate things.
For the first couple of weeks, this usually leads to feeling better and feeling that the added thyroid hormone solved the problem.
But, it tends not to last. Their symptoms come back, and then they try to raise the dose yet again. They feel better again, symptoms come back, and the cycle continues.
What’s Going On Behind The Scenes?
Here’s what is happening: Your body is resisting, due to iodine or due to too much hormone, and once you add more hormone, you temporarily overcome that resistance.
But, the resistance comes back stronger! Your body fights harder, and that’s why you need to continually increase the chance to have a chance to conquer your symptoms.
Ultimately, it really does take getting deep into those hidden iodine sources, so that you can get into a range low enough to help your body (without adding more and more thyroid hormone).
Solutions For Thyroid Symptoms
The first big step you can take, when you have unexplained symptoms, is regulating your iodine. You want to have your iodine in a good, safe range. That is typically a great start.
Second, you’ll want to make sure that your thyroid levels are optimal. That’s because if you’re getting too much, you can feel like you’re getting too little.
And, if you’re getting too little, you can feel like you’re getting too much. Just like I mentioned before: Don’t assume that symptoms are the same direction as you may think.
The third step is getting a handle on types of medication. There are many instances where symptoms are not resolved, unless you are getting the full spectrum of active thyroid hormones.
We need all of those. And, that is such a simple case for natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). If someone has good blood levels, are taking a T4-only or a T4-and-T3-only medication, they can do a lot better just by changing to a more complete version of thyroid medication.
In terms of comparisons, around 100 micrograms of T4 is about the same as a one grain dose of NDT. But, your conversion steps do need to be individualized in order for them to be their most effective.
Some may not need one grain of NDT, they may need half, three quarters, or maybe even more than a grain. But they are probably not going to need a quarter of a grain or two grains, but nailing down where they belong is crucial.
Key Insight: It is hard on your body to get too much, and no fun to get too little, so you should work with an expert to find the right range, test, and re-evaluate as needed.
Last Step: Comorbidities
These are the other diseases that are not thyroid disease, but they are more common in those who do have thyroid disease.
This could happen for multiple reasons. It could be that they show up in the same people, per age and gender, or because they show up for someone who has autoimmune thyroid disease.
Or, they can be the result of abnormal thyroid hormones. All of those three reasons make it really common to have other conditions.
This could include things such as:
- Celiac disease
- Autoimmune gastritis
- Latent iron depletions
- Sleep apnea
We have about 15 different conditions, any one of which is more than 5% likely if you have thyroid disease. And, I see these things missed all of the time.
The difficulty is that doctors assume that the one problem has to be the thyroid levels, and that’s not always the problem. If you don’t identify and correct the comorbidities, things won’t have the opportunity to get all the way better.
Are Your Symptoms Not Aligning?
If your symptoms aren’t aligning with your thyroid lab tests, I hope the insight above helped you get to the bottom of some of these issues. But, here’s what I want you to remember.
First, sometimes the symptoms of too little thyroid medication can feel like the symptoms of too much thyroid medication and vice versa.
It may also be because you are not in a good optimal range for your thyroid lab tests.
Or, you may not be getting a full spectrum of thyroid models. Lastly, it may be due to some hidden condition that is not yet diagnosed.
For all these reasons, and more, I’d love for you to take a look at the Thyroid Quiz (Click Here: Try The Quiz) today. It can help you figure out where you stand, and what the next best steps are to get your health in order. I hope you’ll give it a try!
P.S. Whenever you are ready, here is how I can help you now:
1. Schedule a Thyroid Second Opinion with me, Dr. C, Click Here for Details
2. Download and use my Favorite Recipes Cookbook Here
3. Check out my podcast Medical Myths, Legends, and Fairytales Here
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.