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Beyond TSH, T4 and T3 Blood Tests

Many patients who are diagnosed with thyroid disorders – or waiting for blood tests to confirm a thyroid disease diagnosis – are confused and frustrated when it comes to understanding blood test results. In fact, many doctors do not investigate further when initial TSH, T4 and T3 tests come back within normal ranges.

Even if initial standard thyroid tests are within normal ranges, but your body is telling you that all of your symptoms feel like they are related to a thyroid issue, it is vitally important to test for thyroid antibodies. As thyroid illness continues to be a growing epidemic, slowly doctors are beginning to recognize that more testing needs to be conducted. When you have education to support your discussion with your physician, it is more likely he/she will order a test for Thyroid Peroxidase and Thyroglobulin antibodies. Both of these tests can indicate Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disorder that is often not detected by the three most common thyroid blood tests.

In fact, some doctors are now recognizing that the standard “normal” ranges for the anti-body tests are not accurate. Progressive doctors believe that the presence of any thyroid anti-bodies in the blood need to be addressed before the problem is allowed to progress and further damage your thyroid gland.

But, if your doctor is not willing to work with you, and, as I so frequently and sadly hear, wants to tell you all of your symptoms are in your head, then you need to take control of your own health.

It is important to ask for copies of all of your blood test results. Keep your own file of your records. It will make it easier to take them to a new doctor if necessary and you will also establish a history of your results.

One of the most interesting discussions I have heard regarding blood testing was on a radio program on the Progressive Radio Network. Ellie Cullen, R.N., author of Normal Blood Test Scores Aren’t Good Enough, discusses how and why standard normal blood tests are not necessarily accurate for all patients. I encourage you to listen to this program. The show aired on 08/08/2011 and is found in the archives at http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/what-women-must-know/

Ms. Cullen also has a web site that offers a variety of blood tests that any patient can request without a doctor’s authorization. Of course, you will have to pay the full price of these tests, but it could be a small price to pay if it helps set you on a path of health and recovery. The site is http://yourfuturehealth.com/ (Please note I have not used this service nor do I receive any compensation for recommending it. I am simply providing it as a source of information.)

There are also other organizations that offer blood testing without a doctor’s authorization. However, use caution to ensure that the tests you really need are included in the thyroid panel. Paying more money for the standard TSH, T3 and T4 tests are really not what you need if those tests have already come back in normal ranges.

If you are simply unable to convince your doctor to conduct further testing and funds are not available to conduct your own blood tests, you may want to try avoiding gluten in your diet. This is a fairly innocuous suggestion that may prove to be valuable in minimizing your symptoms. If Hashimoto’s is your diagnosis, you will be doing yourself a great service by eliminating gluten from your diet, regardless of what any blood tests tell you.
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