3 Ways to Self Assess your Thyroid Health

 First, Take this Quiz

These questions reflect your thyroid health.  These questions should be answered with a number from 0 to 3.  Think about how you have been feeling the last few weeks for optimum results.  

0 = None, 1 = Mild, 2 = Moderate, 3 = Severe

 

______                                Tiredness & Sluggishness, Lethargic

______                                Dryer Hair or Skin Thick, Dry, Scaly)

______                                Sleep More Than Usual

______                                Weaker Muscles

______                                Constant Feeling Of Cold (Fingers/Hands/Feet)

______                                Frequent Muscle Cramps

______                                Poorer Memory

______                                More Depressed (Mood Change Easily)

______                                Slower Thinking

______                                Puffier Eyes

______                                Difficulty With Math

______                                Hoarser Or Deeper Voice

______                                Constipation

______                                Coarse Hair/ Hair loss/ Brittle Hair

______                                Muscle/Joint Pain

______                                Low Sex Drive/Impotence

______                                Puffy Hands & Feet

______                                Unsteady Gait (Bump Into Things)

______                                Gain Weight Easy

______                                Outer Third of Eyebrows Thin (Sign of Hertoge or Queen Anne’s Sign [1]

______                                Menses More Irregular (Should be 28 days)

______                                Heavier Menses (clotting or 3 or more days)

______                                Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

______                                TOTAL HYPOTHYROID SCORE (Should be 8 or less)

 

______                                Palpitations (Skipping of Heart beat)

______                                Insomnia

______                                Tachycardia (Rapid or irregular heart beat)

______                                Shakiness

______                                Increased Sweating

______                                Brittle Nails

______                                Loss of Appetite

 

______                                TOTAL HYPERTHYROID SCORE (Should be 0)

[17]

 

Follow this up with a Basal Body Temperature Test 

This is a first thing in the morning test, prior to moving to get out of bed!

Easy to do, just be organized and have a special BBT thermometer (or an old mercury one) shaken down and ready next to the bed.

For Men and non-menstruating women you can do this at any time of the month, for women who are still menstruation the best time of the month is day 1 or 2, but certainly not on days 19 -22 when ovulation will push up the temperature.

As soon as you wake put the thermometer under your armpit nestled into the fold, for 10 minutes.

Do not move until you have taken your temperature.

Do this for at least three days to get an average temperature.

A temperature of 36.55 – 36.77 is considered normal.  Anything lower than this may indicate low thyroid function

 

Finally, you may check any recent lab tests

TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (also called Thyrotropin).  This hormone is actually made by the Pituitary Gland [6] to stimulate the Thyroid gland to produce Thyroid hormones (which include T4 & T3).

When the body detects that there is not enough Thyroid hormone (T4 & T3) more TSH will be secreted by the Pituitary Gland to stimulate this increase of hormones.  If the circulating Thyroid hormones are already too high, then there will be less TSH as there is no need to stimulate them.

There is much written about the correct range and where the TSH should fall.  Here are two examples of my local Western Australian lab references, Clinipath 0.5 – 5.5 and Western Diagnositc 04 – 4.0.

Confused about the different references?  The Australian Prescriber  [7] explains that they “depend on the method used in the laboratory, and the population from which the reference range was derived” [7]

But was that population healthy? Dr Brownstein questions this saying “most of the TSH tests are done on patients who are not feeling well.  A large percentage of these ill patients may be suffering from thyroid problem.  This will skew the thyroid tests to have a large reference range.”[15]

Below are three additional reference ranges:

1.0 – 2.0mlU/L [3] Dr Brownstein author of Overcoming Thyroid Disorder

0.1 – 1.5mlU/L [4] Suzy Cohen author of Thyroid Health

0.5 – 2.0mlU/L  [5] Dr Isabella Wentz author of Hashmoto’s Thyroiditis Root Cause

These opinions of optimum TSH suggest then that anyone above the 2.0lU/L mark may have a hypothyroid health issue.  If the labs are using a reference range up to 5.5IU/L, that would mean a lot of people are walking around feeling pretty lousy with signs low thyroid function being told that they are ‘normal’.

Is that you?  The bottom line is, reference ranges are just that, it is the person and their symptoms that need to be treated, not the blood results.

As discussed before the TSH is stimulating two major hormones Thyroxine (T4) & Triiodothyronine (T3).  The “T” stands for Tyrosine and the number “3” or “4” stands for number of iodine atoms attached. [9]

Thyroid gland metabolism[11]

A process called Deiodination by the Thyroperioxidase Enzyme (TPO) breaks off the Iodine atom from the T4 to make it T3 and while this does happen in the Thyroid gland most happens in the liver, also kidneys, brain and gut.  We need this process to happen to allow the active T3 to enter into the cells to ‘turn us on’.

So therefore the level of T4 indicates how much of the inactive hormone is in the blood and the level of T3 indicates how much there is of the active hormone in the blood.

While you may have a good TSH & T4 range, the inactive T4 may not be getting into the cells and being converted to active T3.  Here lies one of the major reasons why you may have symptoms of low thyroid function.

You may or not have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or Graves Disease by your Doctor. These are auto-immune diseases in which your own body mistakenly attacks your own tissues.

The blood test results to look out for are Antibodies which attack enzymes and proteins within the Thyroid gland.  As these critical elements of thyroid hormone are under attack, it makes common sense that thyroid function would be affected.

With the auto-immune condition Hashimotos’ you may have one or both of these antibodies which are above range in your blood test.

TPO Ab tests for the Antibodies that attack the Thyroperioxidase Enzyme.  Remember this is the one that breaks the Iodine atom from the T4 to convert it to active T3, so if this process is being attacked you won’t be producing enough T3.

TG Ab tests for the Antibodies that attack the Thyroglobulin Protein.  This protein is made in the Thyroid gland and from one of these proteins 5-6 molecules of Thyroid hormone (T4 or T3) can be made. [16] So you can see that if there is an assault on this protein there will be an effect on Thyroid function. i.e not enough Thyroid hormones will be made so your T4 & T3 will be low.[13]

Graves disease is the opposite to the low thyroid function of Hashimoto’s.

TSHR Ab tests for the Antibodies that bind to and mimic TSH onto the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Receptor. [14] Basically it acts as an imposter of TSH and directs the Thyroglobulin to make more T4 & T3.  It is has the outcome of a low TSH and high T4 & T3.[13]

A test that is not routinely prescribed is Reverse T3 (rT3).  This is the mirror image of T3. [10} Its’ job is to reduce excess T3 however it can become high during stress and it slows thyroid activity.  If you are lucky to get this done, make sure you have it done on the same blood draw with T3, so the correct ratio can be determined.

If you have answered high in the questions, have a low basal body temperature and have concerns about your blood results, it may be time to take action to discover how to heal ‘Naturally Thyroid’.

 

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_of_Hertoghe

  2. http://www.drbobnd.com/low_thyroid.htm
  3. David Brownstein MD 2014 Chapter 4 In Defense of the TSH Test, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders (3rd Ed) Medical Alternative Press, West Bloomfield, MI 48323,pg108
  4. Suzy Cohen RPh 2014 Chapter 5 The Best Lab Tests, Thyroid Healthy (1st Ed) Dear Pharmacist Inc, USA, pg52
  5. Dr Isabella Wentz, Thyroid Summit 2014, Transcript pg 15
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022781/
  7. http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/32/2/43/6
  8. David Brownstein MD 2014 Chapter 2 Hypothyroidism, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders (3rd Ed) Medical Alternative Press, West Bloomfield, MI 48323,pg34
  9. Suzy Cohen RPh 2014 Chapter 2 Thyroid Hormones Control The Show, Thyroid Healthy (1st Ed) Dear Pharmacist Inc, USA, pg14
  10. Suzy Cohen RPh 2014 Chapter 2 Thyroid Hormones Control The Show, Thyroid Healthy (1st Ed) Dear Pharmacist Inc, USA, pg16
  11. Häggström, Mikael. “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014“. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:15347/wjm/2014.008ISSN 20018762
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1808985/
  13. http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/34/1/12/5
  14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graves%27_disease
  15. David Brownstein MD 2014 Chapter 4 In Defense of the TSH Test, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders (3rd Ed) Medical Alternative Press, West Bloomfield, MI 48323,pg106
  16. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyroglobulin
  17. Reproduced with permission of Nitek Medical http://www.thyroflex.com/thyroflex.html

 

Beth Klenner
Beth Klenner
Beth Klenner is a fully qualified Naturopath and owner of Naturally Thyroid with a passion to help people identify and address probable causes for their low functioning Thyroid condition.
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