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10 Die-Hard Thyroid Myths
by Mary J. Shomon

1. The TSH test is the only reliable and accurate way to diagnose a thyroid problem.

Conventional endocrinology relies on the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test as the means of diagnosing thyroid disease. But a growing number of innovative practitioners believe that symptoms are a much more reliable way of diagnosing thyroid problems. Canadian doctor and thyroid expert David Derry, M.D., Ph.D., says, for example, "The TSH needs to be scrapped and medical students taught again how to clinically recognize low thyroid conditions."

Says Joseph Mercola, D.O., " I would say over 90% of the patients that I diagnose with underactive thyroids have a completely normal TSH level.. . . From my perspective, most traditionally based physicians have long abandoned their physical examination and diagnosis skills and appear unwilling to believe that patients who complain of all the classic hypothyroid symptoms are in fact truly hypothyroid if their TSH is normal. They would rather believe a lab test than the patient sitting in front of them."

Tampa, Florida holistic physician Carol Roberts, M.D., has said, "I have found that the blood tests are shockingly unreliable in diagnosing this very common problem. When I have a patient in front of me who has all the classic signs of hypothyroidism, and the blood tests are perfectly normal, who am I to believe? I believe the patient, and the evidence of my own eyes."

Despite a normal TSH level, some practitioners believe that a narrower range is actually more accurate. Others will conduct additional antibody testing to diagnose autoimmune thyroid disease in progress, or conduct the sensitive TRH test that can uncover subclinical thyroid problems.

For more information, read: 2. Only older women develop thyroid problems.

While a woman by the age of 60 has a 1 in 5 chance of developing a thyroid problem, they are not the only people who develop thyroid conditions.

Women are vulnerable to thyroid conditions at any age, an in particular, during the post-partum period, and as our hormones begin to change beginning in our late thirties.

Men also develop thyroid conditions, and the symptoms in men don't differ much from women's experiences: weight changes, fatigue, anxiety/depression, loss of sex drive, hair loss - all are common complains of men with thyroid conditions.

For more information, see: 3. Thyroid disease is easy to diagnose and easy to treat.

In my role as Thyroid Guide here at About and as a thyroid patient advocate, I receive a thousand emails each week from hypothyroid patients in the U.S. and around the world who are having a difficult time getting diagnosed, and even when diagnosed, discover that radioactive iodine or antithyroid drugs for hyperthyroidism haven't resolved their symptoms, or receiving that so-called "easy pill a day" treatment for hypothyroidism is leaving them miserable, sick, and still suffering symptoms. Many more post similar complaints to the Thyroid Forum.

It's a shame that "easily diagnosed, easily treated" is still the official mantra, and is promoted as the medical establishment's best thinking, when many innovative practitioners and millions of patients know that thyroid disease is a complex, multi-faceted condition that requires a variety of approaches to diagnose and resolve.

For more information, see: 4. Everyone with Graves' Disease or hyperthyroidism will get bulging eyes.

"Bulging eyes" are one symptom of Thyroid Eye Disease, also known as Graves' Opthamalopathy. While this condition is more common in Graves' Disease and autoimmune hyperthyroidism patients, not everyone who has Graves' will develop the eye-related symptoms. A small percentage of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis/autoimmune hypothyroidism patients also develop Thyroid Eye Disease. And, having any thyroid problem is not a prerequisite. A very small percentage of Thyroid Eye Disease patients have no active form of thyroid disease.

For more information, see: 5. Hypothyroidism will only cause a weight gain of several pounds.

While it's hard to always identify exactly how much weight gain is the direct result of the hypothyroidism, the fact is, the reduced metabolism, reduced energy for exercise, and other metabolic changes can result in weight gains of 20, 30 or 40 pounds or more, for some people, depending on their metabolism and genetics.

For more information on how to tackle the weight gain, see:
Page 2 -- Go to Thyroid Myths 6 through 10


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