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Southlake Style

About that Thyroid

Mar 21, 2013 08:45AM ● By tina

If you're tired all the time, gaining weight, or experiencing hair loss you might need your thyroid tested

Family Health By Terri Suresh, RN, MSN, ACNP

Tired all the time? Gaining weight for no apparent reason? Hair thinning? These exact symptoms lead many to have their thyroids tested, only to have the tests come back normal.

These are complaints I hear time and time again in my practice. Most practitioners understand traditional hypothyroidism, for which only one thyroid lab test, the TSH, is examined, ignoring the most important one, the Free T3 test. Or worse yet, we medical professionals only look at the data and never examine or listen to the patients themselves.

Historically practitioners have been taught if the TSH level is normal, then the patient’s thyroid is working just fine. According to Dr. Mark Starr, thyroid guru, “Centuries ago, before thyroid tests were available, the ultimate test of whether or not a patient was hypothyroid was the patient’s response to a trial of thyroid hormones. Confirmation depended upon improvement or resolution of their symptoms.”

Dr. Starr also states that since the advent of thyroid blood testing, for which there is no conclusive scientific data, there have been scores of patients left erroneously untreated.

This brings me to Type 2 hypothyroidism, a phenomenon wherein the thyroid gland produces normal amounts of thyroid hormone, but the cells are unable to utilize the hormone properly. Other medical experts call this thyroid hormone resistance. It is very similar to Type 2 Diabetes, also known as insulin resistance. Symptoms are identical to hypothyroidism: a sluggish metabolism, cold hands, thinning hair, extreme fatigue and so forth. Most people suffer from Type 2, rather than Type 1 hypothyroidism. But because Type 2 is so widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed, hundreds of thousands of people are living in this miserable state day in and day out.

How do we acquire Type 2 Hypothyroidism or thyroid resistance? The main culprit comes from environmental toxins. These toxins interfere with every aspect of thyroid metabolism and include petroleum and petroleum byproducts, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, heavy metals like mercury and lead, and numerous other synthetic chemicals that are present all around us.

Another factor in thyroid resistance is iodine deficiency.A few others worthy of mention: the lack of mineralized soil for growing produce and the under-utilization of salt. Believe it or not, real salt — I mean unrefined sea salt, not Morton’s — in the right amounts, can be our friend.

According to the literature, a host of other medical issues and diseases may be attributed to thyroid resistance: heart disease, digestive disorders, liver malfunction, lupus, muscular pain, neurological impairment, sinusitis, TMJ and sleep apnea.

So how will your practitioner know if you are thyroid resistant? Beside simply listening to a patient’s description of symptoms, the astute practitioner can observe symptoms of hypothyroidism: puffy face and lips, thinning or lack of hair, missing the outer third of the eyebrows, swollen skin, lack of alertness, slowed speech, hoarseness, cold extremities, weight gain and the tendency toward chronic infections.

A patient diagnosed with Type 2 hypothyroidism can be treated by replacing the thyroid hormone, checking iodine, B and C vitamin levels and providing appropriate nutritional support.

Ensure you and your family receive proper diagnoses; as with any health-related condition, always make sure you are working with a practitioner who is well-versed in the relevant treatment areas.

Terri Suresh is a board-certified acute-care nurse practitioner and founder of Hormonal Health and Wellness Center in Southlake.