What You Probably Don't Know About Your Thyroid Condition

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by Mary Shomon
Thyroid Guide and Patient Advocate

7. The Best Doctor to Treat You May Not be an Endocrinologist or "Thyroidologist"

Many people think that the best doctor to treat a thyroid condition is an endocrinologist. Endocrinologists are specialists who take advanced training in the endocrine system -- including, supposedly, thyroid disease. Most endocrinologists, however, specialize in diabetes treatment, with more also specializing in the profitable area of reproductive endocrinology (fertility doctors).

Few endocrinologists spend much time studying or focusing specifically on thyroid diagnosis and treatment. Some endocrinologists, internists or GPs who want to focus their practice on thyroid disease have called themselves " thyroidologists," but be aware that this has no particularly meaning or standing, medically, and being a self-applied label, does not denote anyone with any more knowledge of thyroid disease than other doctors.

The right endocrinologist -- be sure you ask other patients and practitioners and have a good report on the thyroid-related skills of the endocrinologist before you see him/her -- can be helpful when you are dealing with Graves' disease, nodules, goiter, or other complicated problems. Otherwise, if your typical family practice doctor or GP hasn't been able to diagnose a subtle thyroid problem, or hasn't been able to resolve your symptoms, then an endocrinologist may be an expensive waste of time.

You might be better served by a doctor who specializes in hormonal medicine, a holistic doctor who works with difficult-to-diagnose disease (like thyroid, autoimmune, chronic fatigue), a psychopharmacologist (they tend to be better at subtle thyroid diagnoses), integrative physicians or anti-aging medicine experts.



A good starting place? The Thyroid Top Docs Directory, where patients have recommended their favorite practitioners -- in your town, your state, your part of the country, or even the world!

6. Your Thyroid Condition Can Prevent You From Getting Pregnant

A thyroid imbalance -- hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism -- as well as hyperthyroidism, goiter, nodules, or autoimmunity without symptoms can all make it hard -- or even impossible -- for you to become pregnant, stay pregnant, or breastfeed after delivery. They can also contribute to increased risk of infertility, miscarriage, pre-term delivery, breastfeeding problems and postpartum depression.

Read about new guidelines just released in May 2004 regarding pregnancy and thyroid disease

5. Your Thyroid Problem Could be Autoimmune Disease

Most thyroid patients are actually caused by an underlying autoimmune disease -- Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease -- even if your doctor hasn't diagnosed it or told you that you have it. And if you have one of these two common conditions, did you know that you may also have symptoms and risks of other conditions?

There are some very specific symptoms found in almost all autoimmune conditions.

4. You May Have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Not Just a Thyroid Condition

If you have a thyroid condition, you are at higher risk of having two additional conditions: fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In some cases, it may be difficult to know if you do have these additional conditions, because there is an overlap of symptoms with thyroid conditions. How do you know if you have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Filling out the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Risks and Symptoms Checklist is your first step!

3. You Very Well Might Need a New Doctor

Do you leave message after message for your doctor, and never get a return call? Does your doctor dismiss the Internet as a source of quackery and nonsense? Does your doctor regularly recommend remedies that only he or she sells? Does your doctor sit at his or her desk and read, go through the mail, or type on the computer while you are having an appointment? These are just a few signs that it might be time to find a new doctor. Explore these 10 signs that you need a new doctor, and see if it might be time for someone who can make a real difference in your health.

2. Normal Blood Tests Don't Mean Your Thyroid is Normal

According to the internationally known practitioner and researcher Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, it's a misconception that "if you have normal thyroid blood tests, your symptoms cannot be coming from low thyroid." Dr. Teitelbaum walks you through the rationale behind the increasingly common perspective that tests are not the end-all and be-all, but rather just one part of a good doctor's overall diagnostic evaluation, in this fascinating article.



You can also read How to Find Out if Your Thyroid Is Causing Your Symptoms. This is a detailed, step-by-step instructional article that helps you and your doctor determine if your thyroid could be the cause of your symptoms. Dr. Ken Woliner walks you through the symptoms you should be looking for, how to measure your basal temperature -- including excellent instructions on how to monitor your basal body temperature! -- what your doctor should be looking for in a physical exam, and the various blood tests you can request. And Dr. Woliner answers the essential question: If you have normal laboratory tests, could your thyroid still be causing your symptoms?

1. Your Doctor Probably Still Doesn't Know About the New TSH Normal Range

A year has passed by, and still, many doctors are not aware that the recommended normal ranges for TSH tests have changed. Even though these changes were announced last year, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists has suggested a change to diagnosis and treatment approaches, your doctor probably is still unaware of the changes to the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test normal range.

Yet this is the primary blood test used by conventional doctors to diagnose thyroid disorders. Find out now about the new range and how it affects you.

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