Monday, August 12, 2013

Tests OK, but some thyroid patients complain

Sumath Reddy, WSJ, Aug 6, 2013, writes about grassroots groups who swear current thyroid testing is not catching their low functioning.

Groups include Thyroid Change, Thyroid Patient Advocacy, and the National Academy of Hypothyroidism. (Please Google these sites--because the aforementioned Google does not want urls on these blogs or some dumb thing I don't get.)

The thyroid gland (in the neck) regulates almost all other organs. If it is screwed up, you gain weight, lose hair, feel like crap, sleep a lot, and can be constipated and achy. A tenth of a percent to 5% of people in Western nations have problems, mostly middle-aged women.

Most hypothyroidism (underperforming) comes from Hashimoto's Disease, an autoimmune thing where the body's immune system attacks the thyroid.

The test is of TSH--Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. A higher TSH means more underperformance. But TSH can vary within a person, so sometimes an ultrasound and family history help pinpoint trouble.

The guidelines generally call for prescription levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the T4 produced by the thyroid.

Now some patients want a combo of synthetic and animal extracts (these contain T3 and T4). This stuff is called Dessicated Thyroid Extract (DTE).

In some--repeat, some--patients DTE can clean up remaining symptoms not handled by the traditional therapy.  But--among other things--in one study, adding DTE did not add to quality of life.

So read, think, ask, and be careful.

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