Monday, February 15, 2010
Thyroid patients such as myself have discovered in hindsite that our symptoms lingered on for years before ever being diagnosed. I probably needed to be on dessicated thyroid in my mid twenties. That's when I started gaining weight despite exercising and eating well. Granted, I'm no athlete, nor was I perfect at eating well and dieting. I still did not deserve the weight I was gaining. This was also when I started having trouble with mild depression, especially in the winter.
Here's a list of common hypothyroid symptoms:
Long recovery after activity
Chronic low grade depression
Feeling cold/cold hands and feet
Thinning eye brows
Dry cracking skin
Inability to lose weight
Always gaining weight
Blood pressure problems
Tightness in throat/sore throat
Low body temperature
This is by no means a complete list of complaints. You can see a pattern here, though. Every cell in your body needs thyroid hormone to function. If your thyroid isn't functioning well, nothing else will. It affects every system in your body. Patients just feel like they are not themselves anymore. Your brain is foggy, you over react to the smallest of stresses, constantly mildly depressed, and the list goes on. Loss of eyebrows and constipation are very common signs of a thyroid problem.
Doctors will frequently only order a TSH lab to diagnose hypothyroidism. Patients have discovered, though, that this lab only adequately diagnoses a pituitary problem. It's important to find a doctor who looks at your symptoms and not just a TSH result. If that's all he/she is looking at, run from his/her office. As a patient, you need a doctor who will not only listen to you, but work with you through treatment. Many patients have found general or family practitioners much easier to work with than endocrinologists. Most endocrinologists have a "god" complex and will try to dictate to you that they know what's best. They will diagnose based off of TSH, put you on levothyroxine (T4) only, and when your symptoms don't go away, they will prescribe more meds for these symptoms. Patients have ended up on a whole slew of meds they didn't need because the root of the problem was never addressed appropriately, hypothyroidism. You can see from the list of symptoms how a patient can end up on: one or more anti-depressants, one or more cholesterol lowering drugs, one or high blood pressure meds, meds for constipation, etc...
Take a look at this list of symptoms. There are more complete lists on the "Stop the Thyroid Madness" website and also at the about.com thyroid site run by Mary Shomon. These are excellent sites to visit for information. I plan to post tomorrow about what labs are the correct labs to insist on for better diagnosis. With proper labwork and tracking symptoms, hypothyroid patients will get diagnosed sooner and begin treatment sooner.