5 Common Mistakes Your Thyroid Doctor Might Be Making

Dr. Tarrin P. Lupo, D.C.

There are 5 common mistakes that doctors make when addressing thyroid patients. I am not trying to call any doctors to the carpet. What I would rather encourage is other doctors to bring up their game.

Thyroid problems are rampant in the US and they are only getting worse. We need an army of good doctors who can handle what is coming. Doctors really need to do more than just the basics to help these people. 

This information is to empower the patient to make good decisions. If you're thinking about getting your thyroid checked, hopefully this can help you avoid some common mistakes. Here are 5 common mistakes your doctor might be making.

5 Common Mistakes: #1 - Just Ordering A Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test

5 common mistakesThe thyroid is one of the most complex glands in the body

The thyroid is one of the most complex glands in the body.

The thyroid's job is to be ultra sensitive to slight changes in your body and adjust them back to a normal range.

  • The thyroid is like the air traffic controller in your body

There is a long and complicated cascade of biochemical events from your brain to your target cells.

Each step is extremely complex, which is why thyroid doctors are highly specialized. They could spend their entire lives focusing their study on just a few of the many pathways and steps in thyroid process.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is just one small part of this process and a snapshot of how well your thyroid is listening to signals from your pituitary gland.

Many factors other than thyroid issues can causes high or low TSH levels in the body. These include environmental toxins, eating bad foods, mercury, radiation exposure, and many more.

  • Just ordering a TSH test and nothing else would be like a mechanic just checking your oil and not the rest of the engine

5 Common Mistakes: #2 - Not Ordering A Full Thyroid Panel

5 common mistakesWithout these other markers your doctor can’t see the whole picture

Like I said before, just ordering a TSH test because that is all your insurance will cover is really not acceptable.

Thyroid function can be disrupted anywhere along the complicated process of sending a signal from the brain to the target cell. Problems can occur with cerebrospinal fluid, neurotransmitters, the hypothalamus, the pituitary, the thyroid gland, the liver, the thyroid binding globulins, the enzyme that converts T4 to T3 (5-deiodinase), or even on the target cell receptors.

In order to determine exactly what part of the pathway is not functioning correctly your doctor needs the rest of these blood markers. Without these other markers your doctor can’t see the whole picture. A proper thyroid test should include everything listed in the image to the right.

5 Common Mistakes: #3 - Not Testing For Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Hypothyroid

5 common mistakesPeople with Hashimoto's are often sensitive to wheat

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is massively undiagnosed in this country. Very few people in modern society have an iodine or tyrosine deficiency. Almost all thyroid problems in the USA and industrialized countries are from an autoimmune issue.

Poor diets high in refined sugar, meats, oils, dairy, and modified gluten cause a leaky gut and create an autoimmune response to thyroid tissue. Eating foods you are sensitive to can also cause your body to get confused and attack its own thyroid tissue.

If your doctor just tests TSH they will miss the autoimmune component to your thyroid issue. This leads to a lifetime of taking medication and surgeries that really don't address the underlying problem. To confirm you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis your doctor should order these thyroid antibody tests:

  • (TPO Ab) Thyroperoxidase antibody
  • (TgAb) Thyroglobulin antibody 

On a side note your antibodies can come back negative but that doesn’t automatically rule out Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. You can be on your way to this condition but have just not developed the blood markers yet. You could be tested six months later and then the antibodies finally show up on the test. This condition where you have the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis but your blood work appears normal is called Euthyroid.

  • The best way to manage these patients is to identify the hidden food triggers and remove them from the diet. These patients also respond really well to a plant based diet.

5 Common Mistakes: #4 - Not Testing For Graves Disease Antibodies Or Hyperthyroid

5 common mistakesOne of the biggest mistakes a doctor can make is telling a patient they have Graves disease based solely on a low TSH

One of the biggest mistakes a doctor can make is telling a patient they have Graves disease based solely on a low TSH level. I have patients who come in and tell me they have Graves disease, but when I examine them they have no other findings except a low TSH. 

It takes some time for a thyroid to destroy itself. During that death cycle the TSH will swing wildly from high to low levels. The patient will appear one month to be hypothyroid and the next month they will appear to be hyperthyroid on a blood test.

Graves is actually really rare. Much more likely is that the patient is in the first stages of Hashimoto's disease.

  • In order to truly have Graves disease, the autoimmune element must be confirmed with a (TSH-R Ab / TSI) Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Receptor Antibody / Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulin test

5 Common Mistakes: #5 - Not Doing A Physical Head & Neck Exam

5 common mistakesIf you complain about thyroid issues your doctor should palpate your head and neck and check for nodules

Let's face it: insurance and government healthcare has handcuffed your doctor. Your doctor is most likely a nice person and cares about you, but is just limited to what your insurance will pay for. As insurance payments become less and less, your doctor has to see more patients to keep his or her doors open. Unfortunately this means a much shorter exam for you.

If you complain about thyroid issues your doctor should at least put their hands on your thyroid and inspect your neck and head. A physical exam is starting to become rare and no longer standard care. These days some doctors just order a blood test and never touch their patients so they can examine them for nodules and growths.

Also the area of the spine where the nerves that go to the thyroid come out should be checked. If a misalignment or a subluxation complex is present, it can pinch the nerves supplying the thyroid gland. If the nerve flow is disrupted by a pinched nerve, it can cause dysfunction of the gland.

  • The best place to get checked for subluxations affecting your thyroid is at a good chiropractor. They are the specialists at removing vertebral subluxations naturally

Remember, you are the one who has to live with a misdiagnosis of your thyroid. Use this advice and don’t be a victim of these 5 common mistakes.

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