Thyroid hormone levels are very important for our metabolism and energy. Some estimates say that up to 1 in 7 adults have some level of thyroid deficiency. The tough part is that many of these patients may be misdiagnosed because they may not have significant laboratory findings to match their significant symptoms. A common sentiment among patients is that they thought they had thyroid trouble for years but their "tests were always in the normal range." BodyLogicMD expert anti-aging physicians look at a number of different tests for the thyroid including free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Most of the tests are measured from serum or blood.
Why T3, Reverse T3 and T4?
TSH alone is not an adequate test to check for thyroid deficiency in a woman with symptoms of low thyroid. The major problem with using only TSH to diagnose thyroid disease is that the reference ranges for TSH are not correct. When doctors originally determined the reference range to be between 0.5uU/ml and 5.0uU/ml, they chose people that stated that they were healthy. In reality, it appears that some of those patients actually had poor thyroid function but did not know it. That skewed the reference ranges so that people with borderline low thyroid function might be considered in the "normal" range - but the normal range is wrong. In 2002, the Society of Endocrinologists made the recommendation that the upper limit of normal for TSH should be no higher than 3.0uU/ml. However, most labs continue to use the old reference ranges. Many physicians who practice functional medicine actually use 2.0uU/ml to 2.5uU/ml as their upper limit of normal because any higher can indicate an underactive thyroid.
TSH essentially indicates how hard your brain is yelling at your thyroid to increase thyroid hormone levels. Therefore, the higher the TSH, the louder your brain is yelling at your thyroid. Usually, if the thyroid hormone levels are low the TSH will increase; a red flag that there is inadequate thyroid function. However, some things like low selenium, stress and high cortisol levels can suppress TSH. So, you could be in a high stress situation and have a poorly functioning thyroid, but your TSH would not increase to signify low thyroid function because it is being suppressed by high cortisol. In that case, it is much more important to look at actual hormone levels.
Imagine you are outside looking at the wall of a building. The sun is shining on your back and behind you and there are a number of animals walking behind you. Looking at TSH alone is like looking at that wall and trying to figure out what animals are walking behind you by looking at the shadow they make on the wall. You get a pretty good idea if it's an elephant or a cow, but you don't know much about the color of the animals, true size, etc. At best, it is an estimation. What if you could turn around and look directly at the animals? It would be much easier and much more practical. That is what it is like when using free T3, free T4 and reverse T3 tests. Since these hormones are the actual thyroid hormones that work in your body, knowing the levels of each provides you and your physician with a better picture of thyroid function.
Balancing Thyroid Levels
Treatment of low thyroid hormone levels involves nutritional and hormonal interventions. It is important to make sure that you have adequate selenium, vitamin A and iodine so that the thyroid hormone can be made and converted from the less active T4 to the more active T3. You also need to reduce stress levels so that the demand for cortisol is reduced and the conversion to more active T3 instead of inactive reverseT3 can take place. The expert doctors at BodyLogicMD are well trained in thyroid replacement therapy and will follow the more complex tests to ensure patients experience symptom relief.
Contact the BodyLogicMD bioidentical hormone doctor nearest you to schedule an appointment and learn more about how thyroid hormone levels can impact your metabolism and energy levels.