The Thyroid Gland rests in the lower neck. It is responsible for controlling the body's overall metabolism at the cellular level. This overall metabolism is reflected in the body's temperature. (Try it; if your oral temperature at wake up is below 98 degrees, then you could be hypothyroid).
Deficiencies of thyroid hormones or their ability to stimulate cellular metabolism can result in one or many annoying symptoms:
Modern researchers estimate that as many as 1 out of 10 people have a thyroid disorder and not even know it. These people often suffer with many of the above symptoms without knowing the cause. They try every fad diet and antidepressant pill with no help. Many of these people have TSH blood screening tests in the "normal" range. However, in 2008, the TSH test is virtually useless when the present broad range of "normal" is used. Studies have shown that people with normal TSH levels who have the symptoms listed above likely have reduced levels of the actual circulating thyroid hormones. Furthermore, some people on Thyroid medication also can be under-treated if TSH alone is used to measure progress.
Medications, stress, and other hormone imbalances have been shown to lower the effectiveness of Thyroid hormones in the body by upsetting the balance between the weaker T4 hormone and the stronger T3 hormone. This is especially true in women on birth control pills, hormone replacement pills, and even women with PMS or abnormal periods! Again, these people will likely have a normal blood TSH but abnormally low circulating thyroid hormone levels.
In our practice, all patients with any of the classic hypothyroid symptoms are tested for the free Thyroid hormones in addition to TSH. We are now also offering testing of thyroid hormones in the saliva which in our practice has shown to be more sensitive at diagnosing hypothyroidism than blood tests.
All patients with abnormal testing are given small doses of thyroid hormone to take daily in order to balance out their metabolism. Symptoms usually improve in a few weeks! Remember, you're not getting old or depressed. The answer may lie in your thyroid!