by Mary Shomon
Thyroid Guide and Patient Advocate
7. The Best Doctor to Treat You May Not be an Endocrinologist or "Thyroidologist"
Many people think that the best doctor to treat a thyroid condition is an endocrinologist. Endocrinologists are specialists who take advanced training in the endocrine system -- including, supposedly, thyroid disease. Most endocrinologists, however, specialize in diabetes treatment, with more also specializing in the profitable area of reproductive endocrinology (fertility doctors). Few endocrinologists spend much time studying or focusing specifically on thyroid diagnosis and treatment. Some endocrinologists, internists or GPs who want to focus their practice on thyroid disease have called themselves "thyroidologists," but be aware that this has no particularly meaning or standing, medically, and being a self-applied label, does not denote anyone with any more knowledge of thyroid disease than other doctors.
The right endocrinologist -- be sure you ask other patients and practitioners, and have a good report on the thyroid-related skills of the endocrinologist before you see him/her -- can be helpful when you are dealing with Graves' disease, nodules, goiter, or other complicated problems. Otherwise, if your typical family practice doctor or GP hasn't been able to diagnose a subtle thyroid problem, or hasn't been able to resolve your symptoms, then an endocrinologist may be an expensive waste of time. You might be better served by a doctor who specializes in hormonal medicine, a holistic doctor who works with difficult-to-diagnose disease (like thyroid, autoimmune, chronic fatigue), a psychopharmacologist (they tend to be better at subtle thyroid diagnoses), integrative physicians or anti-aging medicine experts.
A good starting place? The Thyroid Top Docs Directory, where patients have recommended their favorite practitioners -- in your town, your state, your part of the country, or even the world!
6. Your Thyroid Condition Can Prevent You From Getting Pregnant
A thyroid imbalance -- hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism -- as well as hyperthyroidism, goiter, nodules, or autoimmunity without symptoms can all make it hard -- or even impossible -- for you to become pregnant, stay pregnant, or breastfeed after delivery. They can also contribute to increased risk of infertility, miscarriage, pre-term delivery, breastfeeding problems and post-partum depression.
Read about new guidelines just released in May 2004 regarding pregnancy and thyroid disease. And for comprehensive information, see the Thyroid Guide to Fertility, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding Success.
5. Your Thyroid Problem Could be Autoimmune Disease
Most thyroid patients actually is actually caused by an underlying autoimmune disease -- Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease -- even if your doctor hasn't diagnosed it or told you that you have it. And if you have one of these two common conditions, did you know that you may also have symptoms and risks of other conditions? There are some very specific symptoms found in almost all autoimmune conditions. Find out if you have any of these autoimmune "super-symptoms now."
4. You May Have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Not Just a Thyroid Condition
If you have a thyroid condition, you are at higher risk of having two additional conditions: fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In some cases, it may be difficult to know if you do have these additional conditions, because there is an overlap of symptoms with thyroid conditions. How do you know if you have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Filling out the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Risks and Symptoms Checklist is your first step!
3. You Very Well Might Need a New Doctor
Do you leave message after message for your doctor, and never get a return call? Does your doctor dismiss the Internet as a source of quackery and nonsense? Does your doctor regularly recommend remedies that only he or she sells? Does your doctor sit at his or her desk and read, go through mail, or type on the computer while you are having an appointment? These are just a few signs that it might be time to find a new doctor. Explore these 10 signs that you need a new doctor, and see if it might be time for someone who can make a real difference in your health.