How can I have a Thyroid problem if my labs are all "Normal?"
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
How can you have a thyroid problem if you have been evaluated and told “Everything looks fine”? You have probably even had lab work done and that came back “looking good” as well. I see that all the time. Someone will come to me with all the symptoms of a slow thyroid despite being checked out and told everything was “normal”.
That is super frustrating. To make matters worse, often after insisting that something is still not right, many are told that nothing is wrong and prescribed anti-depressants. As if to say… “It’s all in your head, here are some meds to make you feel better.” The person is not depressed… They actually have a problem that is not being evaluated properly. How can this be happening? I find 2 common reasons for this.
The first issue is that the Thyroid is not being evaluated properly. There is a test marked called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH for short. In traditional medicine, this is considered the “screening test” for the thyroid. There are many issues with this, however. The first is that this number will stay “In range” for quite some time even when there are major thyroid issues going on. This is to say that it’s not a very sensitive marker. Once it’s out of range, the problem with the Thyroid has typically been going on for a long time and would have been much easier to address had it been caught sooner. There are 8 Thyroid markers that I look at when I evaluate a Thyroid. This way I can determine 1) Is the Thyroid an issue and 2) If the thyroid is an issue, what specifically is going wrong? In many instances, the thyroid is struggling, but it is having trouble for some other reason than just a simple thyroid slowdown. The most common example of this is Hashimoto’s which is an autoimmune condition. In this case, the Thyroid is slow because it is under attack from the person’s own body. The real issue is not the thyroid, but rather the immune system. Knowing this allows us to come up with the right solution to help.
The next problem is with the “Reference Ranges” being used. These are so broad that many problems are missed. If only one test is being run on the thyroid, the TSH test mentioned above, and the reference range is too broad, you can see how many problems are being missed! The “Reference Range” used is calculated by taking all the values of everyone who has this lab test run and simply saying that as long as you are not in the bottom 2.5% or top 2.5%, you are “In range”. It’s about statistics and not health. When you consider that 1 out of 5 American women have a thyroid problem, you can see how this range is not super helpful in determining whether there is a problem. Functionally trained doctors, like myself, will rely on “Optimal Ranges” that look at where these numbers need to be to keep you healthy and feeling good.
You can see how it is possible to have a major issue with your thyroid, and still be told “Everything is fine”. I see this every week. I help people find the answers so they 1) Know what is going on with their Thyroid and 2) What needs to be done to make it healthy again.
If I can answer any questions for you and help you navigate your health challenges, please reach out and I'll give you a call so I can listen and try to help. Simply click this link and we'll chat!