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Why do I need a Thyroid Profile?
The thyroid is one of the most important glands in the body. This hormone regulates the metabolism of the body by increasing the rate of the reactions taking place in the body’s cells. The test is used to evaluate the symptoms of excess (hyperthyroidism) such as unexplained weight loss, tremor, nervousness, rapid heart rate, diarrhea, or the sensation of always being too hot. Symptoms of too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) are unexplained weight gain, tiredness, dry skin, or the sensation of always being too cold.
When Should You Suspect Your Thyroid?
Common thyroid disease symptoms: fatigue or depression, enlargement of the thyroid gland or discomfort in the neck area, weight change, pregnancy problems, always feeling too hot or too cold, heart rate or blood pressure irregularities, digestive problems like diarrhea and more frequent bowel movements and urination, and/or muscle and joint fatigue.
Thyroid Hormone Basics
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) – symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain, a short attention span, and numbness or cold intolerance.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) – symptoms may include weight loss, persistent vomiting, increased blood pressure, hair loss or a persistently fast heart rate.
This test measures the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) as well free T4 and free T3 in the blood serum.
There are three common ways in which there may be inadequte amounts of the thyroid hormone for normal metabolism. The one which all doctors are aware of is primary hypothyroidism, in which there is a raised TSH and a low T4 and low T3. This is due to failure of the thyroid gland itself, possibly due to autoantibody disease, possibly due to toxic stress or possibly due to iodine deficiency.
The second, and in my view the most common cause of thyroid failure, occurs at the pituitary level. In this condition there is inadequate thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produced from the pituitary and so one tends to see low or normal TSHs, low T4s and variable T3s. This condition is commonly in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, where there is a general suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
The third type of under-functioning is due to poor conversion of T4 to T3. This requires enzymes and co-factors, in particular selenium, zinc and iron. In this condition there are normal or possibly slightly raised levels of TSH, normal levels of T4 but low levels of T3. This requires micronutrients and also T3 to correct.
Therefore, in any patient who suspects a thyroid problem ask for a TSH, a Free T4 and a Free T3 in order to gain the full picture.