It’s entirely possible that you have been tested for thyroid function by your GP and told that your thyroid is functioning well, when it is not.
How can this happen? The system for testing thyroid function works like this:
Your doctor will initially only test your levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) – the hormone that regulates your thyroid function – but will not test for actual thyroid levels T3 and T4 unless your TSH is out of the recommended range. The reason? It’s a Medicare guideline to reign in costs.
The ‘normal’ TSH range is generally between 0.5 and 4.5 (allowing for some variation with different pathology labs). However, this given ‘normal’ range is much too broad and doesn’t account for the early stages of low thyroid function. For example, you could have all the signs of low thyroid function only to be told by your doctor that your TSH levels – and your thyroid – are fine.
From a naturopathic perspective, a TSH greater than 2 suggests that your thyroid may actually be under-functioning and not normal at all. This can lead to a broad range of other health problems I’ve covered in a previous blog.
What should you do if you believe you have an under-functioning thyroid?
If your symptoms suggest low thyroid function and you have a TSH greater than 2, your naturopath can refer you for further testing to determine if you do have an underactive thyroid. Measuring your T3 and T4 thyroid levels is the only way to know for sure, but unfortunately this can’t be done through the Medicare system. Don’t worry though, it’s generally not expensive, and it is money well spent to determine if you need help with your thyroid.
Below is a copy of a thyroid function test report, including thyroid antibodies. Note the reference range for TSH.
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