Health

Why Is It Difficult To Diagnose Hypothyroidism?

It is estimated by the thyroid federation that up to 300 million people suffer from thyroid dysfunction but over half may be unaware of their condition. Hypothyroidism is one of the most unrecognised, mis/undiagnosed conditions in the world. Hypothyroid patients are slipping through the cracks of mainstream medicine, left to suffer in silence.

Doctors often rely on TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) for diagnosis. Although TSH alone is not enough and rarely does doctors do a full thyroid blood panel or investigate a patient’s medical history. The reliance on TSH tests leaves millions undiagnosed and suffering from the symptoms. Many patients outline their hypothyroid symptoms but because their TSH is ‘normal’ their thyroid is ruled out.

Doctors should not give out a diagnosis without doing a thorough investigation. Without a full thyroid blood panel, doctors are never going to have the full picture. The thyroid produces T4 which is converted to T3 which is then used by the body. However, most doctors just assume this conversion is happening without checking the T4 and T3 levels. A full thyroid panel should at the very least include tests for your TSH levels, T3, T4, thyroid peroxidase antibodies and thyroglobulin. If your doctor refuses or limits these tests do not hesitate to ask for a second opinion.

The thyroid gland controls all metabolic functions in the body. Every cell in the body relies on the thyroid gland; they all require thyroid hormones to function. Hypothyroidism has the potential to disrupt every aspect of bodily function. It can produce profound and debilitating changes to your health, but it is often misunderstood by the medical community. It takes time to compile an extensive clinical history, which should include symptoms, a physical examination, a personal medical history as well as a family history. Most doctors simply don’t have the time; they have other patients to see.

Sometimes the most common symptoms such as weight gain, depression and high cholesterol are treated as the cause instead of as symptoms of another issue. You are given antidepressants, and statins to lower your cholesterol, doctors advise dietary changes and more exercise; all whilst completely missing the links to hypothyroidism. Or, they fail to see the links between your family history of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s all of which are potentially linked to hypothyroidism.

Medication is important when managing hypothyroidism. Cytomel is a brand name of the prescription medicine liothyronine. It is used to treat hypothyroidism because the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, Cytomel is a man-made hormone that replaces and subsidises the bodies natural thyroid hormone. An underactive thyroid is usually a lifelong condition, the medication you begin taking you will often stay on for the rest of your life.  It’s important you choose the right one. This being said you should always consult your doctor if you begin to experience any adverse effects from the medication.

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