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Thyroid Levels – You And Your Thyroid

Meet your best friend — your thyroid. If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, little else in your body functions properly. This little gland sits at the base of your throat in the notch of your collarbone. It is often called the “butterfly gland” because of its shape.

Our thyroid oversees every function in our body. An upset thyroid will reveal itself in two forms: underactive (hypothyroid); or overactive (hyperthyroid).

The health of your thyroid and how it functions is revealed through a blood test as requested by your regular family doctor. When you receive the blood test requisition, ensure that it does ask for a thyroid function test. This is called a TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This test is usually adequate to determine if there is a problem, but if your doctor is concerned, she may also request a Free T4 test, which tests another background aspect of the thyroid function.

Symptoms of hyperthyroid (overactive, and in extreme cases is called Grave’s Disease)

Heart palpitations
Tremors (when you hold your hands out in front of you, your hands shake noticeably)
Sleeplessness
Feeling hot or overheated
Profuse body sweating
Unexplained weight loss
Hair falling out in noticeable amounts
Premature grayness
Muscle waste (you notice your muscle tone and strength is decreasing, even in the face of regular exercise)
Migraine headache
High blood pressure
Difficulty conceiving
Diminished immune system (you seem to catch every little cold or flu bug)
Poor digestion and upset stomach, nausea
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Emotional instability (anger, aggression, impatience)

A note here about Grave’s Disease having an additional symptom. In severe overactive state, the muscles around the optic nerve behind the eye will swell, sometimes slightly, sometimes greatly. This swelling puts pressure on the optic nerve as well as forcing the eye to protrude forward. Grave’s Disease sufferers tend to have very prominent eyes, almost a bulging look, with the white of the eye visible all around the the colored iris. This condition is dangerous and can affect the eyesight permanently. It is critical to be under the care of qualified eye doctor who is familiar with Grave’s Disease and it’s impact.

Grave’s Disease is my condition, and I was under the care of an eye specialist for several years until he determined that the danger was over and I could attend a regular eye doctor for yearly examinations.

Symptoms of hypothyroid (underactive, and in extreme cases is called Hashimoto’s Syndrome)

Heart palpitations, often accompanied by anxiety
Depression
Sleeplessness
Feeling cold, in spite of surroundings being warm
Dry, scaly skin
Fatigue
Unexplained weight gain
Low blood pressure
Difficulty conceiving
Elevated cholesterol
Poor digestion and upset stomach
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Emotional instability (fear, insecurity, weepiness)

The problem with thyroid symptoms, whether hypo or hyper, is that they can come on gradually one by one. Each symptom can begin so subtly that you don’t realize until months later that “hey, I feel terrible.” Also, the symptoms alone or in a group of two or three can also be associated with many other conditions. Take half of the symptoms and you’ve just described your PMS days.  This is the danger of the thyroid. If the thyroid function is not checked regularly, we may be chasing and treating other conditions in vain.

What causes our thyroid to change? It can be many things. My doctor told me that at “middle age” (thanks for that, by the way!) the thyroid can sometimes decide that it will function at a lower level, just in the same way that our eyesight fades resulting in needing glasses. A time of prolonged or severe stress can knock out our thyroid, as well as our other hormone levels. Thyroid problems also run in families, and mostly affect women. Check with your aunts, grandmother, and mother. With thyroid function testing really only coming to light in the past twenty years, it is possible that some members of your family have suffered with this and it has gone undiagnosed. The thyroid is getting a lot of press these days since Oprah announced that she is struggling with a hypothyroid condition.

Once you have a blood test and determine your thyroid is either hypo or hyper, what happens next?

Hypothyroid (underactive) can be treated easily with a synthetic pill. Thyroid medication has been around for decades and has been proven to be very effective with little side effect. If you do want to opt for a natural supplement, your Naturopathic Doctor can give you thyroid granules, which simply melt under your tongue.

Hyperthyroid (overactive) is a little more complicated. If the thyroid is over functioning, that function needs to be reduced. The most common method is an old one which is still used to this day. Radioactive Iodine Treatment. This treatment is completely painless, but the method can be unnerving. You will be asked to drink a container of water containing Radioactive Iodine. There is no taste to it and it doesn’t hurt to drink it. With this method, it is difficult for the physician to order the exact correct amount of Radioactive Iodine to correct the thyroid, and often what happens is that a bit too much is given. When this happens it puts the patient into a hypothyroid state which then requires some thyroid medication to bring the thyroid function up to the level needed for optimal health.

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Hormone Test Results

Hormone Test Results – what you should know that no one will tell you!

Test Results – Whether you return to your general family doctor, or to your Naturopath for results, the doctor will explain to you what the results mean.  Here is an important thing to consider.  Sometimes, test results will show that your levels are in a “normal range”, and this may lead your doctor to say that all is well and send you on your way.  Sometimes, to feel optimal, you may need your level to be in the lower or higher end of the “normal range”.

This happened to me with my last thyroid test.  The normal range is considered 0.5 – 5.0.  My test came back at 4.85 so my doctor said I was normal.  I explained that I still was not feeling well.  The symptoms I had been enduring had lessened somewhat, but I was not feeling the fullness of health and well being.  After some research, and speaking to another doctor, it was recommended that I try for a level of 1.0 – 2.0.  As of the time of writing this article I am working towards this score and am feeling progressively better as weeks go by.

Moral of the story – you know your body better than anyone.  Listen to your symptoms and if you don’t feel well, keep going back to your doctor, keep talking, or get a second opinion until someone works with you to find your body’s optimal level for health, regardless of what is considered normal for the entire population.

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Heather’s Story

I’m Heather Gagne’ a mother of two grown children, a Gramma and Homemaker. I got married at nineteen and have been married now for thirty years! Almost twenty years ago I was diagnosed with a Disease called HYPOTHYROIDISIM.  I was thirty years old then.

Before being diagnosed I can remember getting up each day and wondering how I was going to make it through the day with two young children. One of our children was ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder).

My husband had his own Company and that required a lot of his time….so he was working long hours each day and gone! I was so tired and exhausted, gaining weight very quickly and depressed but didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t want to be around anyone and felt anger towards people if they even phoned.

All I wanted was to be left alone and everything was very overwhelming to me. It was my own Mother who is like a Sister to me and we are very close that noticed something was terribly wrong with me. Mum suggested going to the doctor and talking about what was happening. I had no idea what to say to the doctor and so I just explained how I was feeling at the time.

I really thought she was going to think I was NUTS or CRAZY! My regular Doctor was away and so I went to her replacement. Fortunately, Dr. Margo Link (I will never forget her name) actually sat and listened to me and told me she would do some test to find out what was wrong! When my regular doctor had returned from pregnancy leave she asked me why all these tests and so I explained to her how I felt and what was happening in my life.

She felt I was too young to have a Thyroid Condition and mentioned if the tests come back normal we could try Prozac!!! I wonder if she would have ever done those tests for me if she was the Doctor I had first gone to see. It was such a relief when the Doctor phone and said I was Hypothyroid.

I didn’t know what that was at the time but just grateful to know something was actually wrong! Now I had a name to go with how I felt. I was put on Synthroid which is a Synthetic Hormone that most Doctors put their patients on.

The medication helped somewhat but it’s never the same. Years later I was reading in our local Newspaper, information from a Naturopath. It was mentioned that if your Ferritin (iron storage) is low then your thyroid won’t function properly.

Your levels should be around 90 and I have my levels checked and I was at 4. It took me almost two years to bring up my levels. I actually emailed the Naturopath and he mentioned that I should be taking Desiccated Thyroid Hormone because it has t3 and t4 and it’s natural. ERFA is the company in Canada. I asked my Doctor to switch me to this thyroid hormone two years ago now.

I feel a lot better being on this compared to the Synthyroid. Being on the Desiccated Thyroid Hormone has helped me with Thyroid Disease symptoms that I still had such as brain fog and hard to concentrate, hair loss, weight gain, etc.  I still struggle with weight issues and it’s something that I continue working at.

I have educated myself over the years on this disease and have found that Alternative Medicine has really helped me. There is so much information now through books and the internet that a person can help heal themselves and feel better.

Take charge and control of your own Health and remember nobody knows you like yourself!

Recently I purchased over the Internet a DVD – Dr. David Brownstein’s OVERCOMING THYROID DISORDERS – 52 million Americans Suffering, 59 Debilitating Diseases and Your one tiny Thyroid . . . (Excellent DVD). Dr. Brownstein is a doctor and Naturopath. His own father suffered and had Thyroid Disease! I highly recommend joining his website as there is lots and lots of info. Books, DVD’s, etc.

You can purchase these from his website as well. The Video Documentary shares exactly what you can do to protect yourself and family from the little – known dangers of Thyroid Disorders now linked to 59 diseases and conditions.

We all need to educate ourselves about this disease. I look forward to sharing info. and ideas on Brenda’s Website & hope that we can share our experience with others so it may help them!

 

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Your Hormone Test Results

What you should know that no one will tell you!

Test Results – Whether you return to your general family doctor, or to your Naturopath for results, the doctor will explain to you what the results mean. Here is an important thing to consider. Sometimes, test results will show that your levels are in a “normal range”, and this may lead your doctor to say that all is well and send you on your way. Sometimes, to feel optimal, you may need your level to be in the lower or higher end of the “normal range”.

This happened to me with my last thyroid test. The normal range is considered 0.5 – 5.0. My test came back at 4.85 so my doctor said I was normal. I explained that I still was not feeling well. The symptoms I had been enduring had lessened somewhat, but I was not feeling the fullness of health and well being. After some research, and speaking to another doctor, it was recommended that I try for a level of 1.0 – 2.0. As of the time of writing this article I am working towards this score and am feeling progressively better as weeks go by.

Moral of the story – you know your body better than anyone. Listen to your symptoms and if you still don’t feel well, keep going back to your doctor, keep talking to your doctor, or get a second opinion until someone works with you to find your body’s optimal level for health, regardless of what is considered normal for the entire population.

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Vega Testing Testimonial

My Experience With Vega Testing

When I visit my Naturopathic Doctor (ND), I am regularly tested for yeast, hormone balance (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), thyroid, stress, B vitamins and organ function (kidney and liver). It has been my experience that these tests have often accurately indicated the beginning of a problem, sometimes before my family doctor found a problem.  On the flip side, I have had my family doctor make a diagnosis on some aspect of my health and the Vega test has confirmed the findings.

During one testing session, the Vega indicated an imbalance in my thyroid.  I have been on thyroid medication for twenty years, and in the last 10 years, my dosage has never had to change one little bit.  This imbalance in my thyroid, according to the Vega, coincided with symptoms of thyroid upset which I had been experiencing gradually over the past six months.  This cued to me to bring it up with my family doctor who ordered a blood test.   The blood test showed no change in my thyroid.  I tried doing some support for my thyroid through dietary measures, but I was still having no change in my symptoms.  I returned to my doctor six months later for another blood test.  This second blood test showed that my thyroid level, which had remained unchanged for the past 10 years had nearly ceased to function.  I concluded that the Vega has detected a change in my body’s chemistry which had not as yet translated into a change in blood level of thyroid hormone.

On another occasion, several years ago, a Vega test indicated a viral attack on my entire body.  From this test, my ND advised me that the virus may reveal itself through an erupting rash on my skin, which had not yet appeared.  A few days later the rash appeared and a blood test with my family doctor also revealed a strange viral infection.  As I have taken more and more responsibility for my health over the years, I have found the Vega test extremely useful as a tool to confirm a diagnosis.

Is Vega testing for you?  Because it is a completely painless and non-invasive test, what is the downside of trying it?  It may prove to be that extra piece of information that assists your ND in a more accurate diagnosis.  If you already see a Naturopathic Doctor, ask her if she uses Vega testing.  If you are just in the process of finding a Naturopathic Doctor in your area, this is the perfect time to ask the office uses this type of testing.

Thyroid Function

You and your thyroid

Meet your best friend — your thyroid.  If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, little else in your body functions properly.  This little gland sits at the base of your throat in the notch of your collarbone.  It is often called the “butterfly gland” because of its shape.

Our thyroid oversees every function in our body.  An upset thyroid will reveal itself in two forms:  underactive (hypothyroid); or overactive (hyperthyroid).

The health of your thyroid and how it functions is revealed through a blood test as requested by your regular family doctor.  When you receive the blood test requisition, ensure that it does ask for a thyroid function test.  This is called a TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.  This test is usually adequate to determine if there is a problem, but if your doctor is concerned, she may also request a Free T4 test, which tests another background aspect of the thyroid function. Read more