The thyroid gland is an endocrine organ found in the neck. It is shaped like a butterfly that wraps its wings over the trachea. Its sole purpose is to convert iodine into T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones). Every cell in the body relies on these hormones for regulation of their metabolism. When the thyroid is not working properly it can cause hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, non-cancerous thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer.
Misdiagnosis of Thyroid Dysfunction
As we mentioned previously, experts believe that thyroid issues often go undiagnosed. The reason is that blood tests for the thyroid measure TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels in the blood. This hormone stimulates the production of thyroid hormones when needed by the body.
The problem is that TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, not the thyroid. Experts have shown that if the thyroid is not functioning properly, the TSH will not stimulate the creation of needed thyroid hormones. Therefore, a patients TSH level may be in the normal range, but still they suffer from all the symptoms for hypothyroidism or other thyroid conditions. In addition, the accuracy of TSH tests have been called into question suggesting additional room for error.
Misdiagnosis is thought to be particularly prevalent in overweight people because weight gain and retention is a common symptom of hypothyroidism.
Hazards of Thyroid Misdiagnosis
As you have seen, blood tests for thyroid function may not always be accurate, leading to negative tests for a thyroid condition. As the medical community seeks answers to the patient’s symptom, they may even misdiagnose that patient with another condition that shares similar symptoms to a thyroid problem.
Common Misdiagnoses for Thyroid Dysfunction:
- Sleep Apnea
- Depressive disorders
- Anxiety disorder
- Personality disorders
- Psychological disorders
Steps to Preventing a Thyroid Issues
- Iodine is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones. Seafood, sea vegetables and yogurt all have high concentrations of iodine. A 24 hour Urine Test is an inexpensive method for pinpointing the body’s iodine availability.
- Exercise plays a big role in regulating hormones. It is recommended to be active for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Learn the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and pay attention to your body
- If you have symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, engage in screening measures and address any issues
There are many excellent resource on thyroid health. Among the best we have found is Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness by Dr. Broda Barnes. For years, he worked with patients who displayed thyroid symptomology but had normal blood tests. He also discovered that body temperature and symptoms were a much better indicators of thyroid health.
Healthy thyroid function is too important to ignore a possible issue. Take ownership of how you feel and if desired seek help from medical professionals that understand how to work with the whole person through integrative diagnosis and therapies.