What do my Thyroid test results mean?
December 12, 2008 4:43 AM   Subscribe

Having suffered from a lot of symptoms associatd with a possible Thyroid problem I had a test and have just got the results although the doctor says there fine about.com says they are not. Im hoping someone could shed some light for me. My TSH level is 2.44 and my T4 is 19.4 (the doctor says the safe range is 15 - 21)

The main reason for the test was i suffer from :

Cold intolerance, increased sensitivity to cold
Migraine headache
Impaired memory
Anxiety/panic attacks
Sluggish reflexes
posted by toocan to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
"Normal results" varies a lot from doctor to doctor. A different doctor might put you on thyroid replacement.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:01 AM on December 12, 2008

Sidenote for if you do go on replacement:

For some reason, doctors don't seem to want to do the natural, extracted thyroid replacement. My mother was having difficulty on the generic non-extracted form, but when a specialist put her on non-generic, she did much better.

He told her that the generics are not as good because there are no standards for how much active product there is, so the generics actually have lesser quantities per mg. of pill. Astonishing if true, but she is doing much better.
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:15 AM on December 12, 2008

Some doctors don't treat for what they consider to be "borderline" results. It's not just thyroid they decide this about, but it's one of the more common ones.

The more modern trend, however, is to treat for the individual's tolerance of their levels rather than what the results say should be happening. The good news is that if you go to a different doctor, they may choose to pursue the more modern approach or at least explain why that won't work in your case (if that's the situation).
posted by batmonkey at 7:28 AM on December 12, 2008

Many of these tests are just bell-curved out. If you fall inside the curve, you don't automatically get treatment. What that fails to take into consideration is, as others have said, individual tolerance and experience.

It's also an insurance thing, and I can see both sides. They don't want doctors willy-nilly treating every borderline case. So they draw a line in the sand, so to say. On one side of the line, treatment is obvious and approved. On the other, treatment is not necessary, or at least subject to increased scrutiny.
posted by gjc at 7:43 AM on December 12, 2008

Is your doctor an endocrinologist? If not, I recommend seeing one. I had almost the same symptoms as you, mentioned them to my Gyn, who did a basic blood test and referred me to an endocrinologist. Though I was technically in the normal range, given my symptoms, the endocrinologist put me on a low dose of synthroid. I was concerned about having to be on thyroid meds for the rest of my life, but the doctor said that isn't always the case these days. I tried the meds for about 6 months, felt better and have been off of them since July.

My endocrinologist is pretty progressive, and worked with me on some lifestyle issues, such a stress management. She also sent me to be tested for sleep apnea, since many of the symptoms are common to sleep disorders.

I also found Mary Shomon's books and website very helpful.

Good luck!
posted by socrateaser at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2008

Ask your doctor to prescribe thyroid supplements to see if that helps. My thyroid tests were low normal, and my doctor recommended supplement. I was opposed, but darned if I don't feel a lot better.
posted by theora55 at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2008

There's nothing borderline about those results. They're smack in the middle of the normal range for most labs. Treatment is not indicated.

As I think I've said about 1000 times before in AskMe, hypothyroid symptoms are common and nonspecific. Correcting them with thyroid replacement when hypothyroidism is the cause is safe and efficacious. Trying to correct them with thyroid replacement when hypothyroidism is not present is inefficacious and will create health problems.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:23 AM on December 12, 2008

Your doctor is a doctor. About.com is not. If you're concerned about the test results I would ask for a referral to an endocrinologist for a second opinion.
posted by geekchic at 1:16 PM on December 12, 2008

What are you doing for the headaches? If you are having headaches like mine, and from a medical standpoint mine are not bad, then we could easily blame them for:
Impaired memory
Sluggish reflexes

and maybe the panic attacks.

If you are having serious headaches, why are you worried about your thyroid right now? Did someone suggest looking at that as a component of your headache issues?

Get your headaches under control.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:42 PM on December 13, 2008

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