Last year, Nicholas went from weighing 42 pounds to 64 pounds in less than 6 months time. I suspected a thyroid problem, but the labwork did not point in that direction. So, I kept looking for answers – not finding any reason for this. One thing that was mentioned as a possibility was that his gut was being healed (we started hbot around the same time he started gaining weight) he was absorbing food more than he was before. Well, since I have never seen undigested food in Nicholas’s stool, I didn’t put much weight behind this theory.
So, I started digging and digging and talking to people who were familiar with thyroid issues. And in reviewing Nicholas’s labwork (with the correct reference ranges applied) – it was obvious he was hypothyroid.
So, I’m going to share what I have learned in hopes that it can help someone else.
The problem with the testing is that most doctors do not know how to read the test results and this is not necessarily their fault. From what I found out, they changed the reference ranges back in 2003, but most labs haven’t updated their ranges yet which may be part of the problem. Also, when looking at results, most doctors just look to see if the number is in the reference range and if it is, they assume no problem.
A TSH over 3.0 points to hypothryoid. Over 2.0 could mean possibly hypothyroid. The reference ranges labs use don’t point to hypothyroid until the person is really, really effected by it, usually with a TSH over 5, so essentially the reference ranges most labs use are incorrect for thyroid. And many of the test results can be quite normal in appearance, but if the symptoms all fit, a trial of Armour would be in your best interest. (Many people spend their life feeling horrible with a TSH of 1.5 – and when treated with Armour can function and feel better again – so your best bet is to find a doctor who will treat by symptoms)
Labs get their reference ranges from testing a group of people – usually a fairly large group of people – and they update their ranges from time to time. If a number of those individuals have un-diagnosed hypothyroid, it will skew the reference ranges to be higher. So, essentially, living with hypothyroid has become the norm unfortunately. I do have to wonder if this isn’t a part of the obesity problem in this country.
If you are having thyroid antibody tests run – make sure your lab will provide you with an actual numeric result and not just positive or negative. Most labs have ranges for what is considered positive or negative. Positive is anything above ZERO. A person shouldn’t have ANY antibodies to their thyroid.
Here are some sites I did bookmark which have some great information:
Stop the Thyroid Madness
Yahoo Group with Great Info
Really helpful scorecard: http://drrind.com/therapies/metabolic-symptoms-matrix
Soy suppresses the thyroid, so it should be avoided. Soy is a goitrogenic food, maybe good for women with no estrogen, but for the rest of us. Everything I have read about soy makes me stay as far away from it as possible. It’s upsetting to me to think about how many months Nicholas drank Isomil and then Isomil 2 (when he wouldn’t drink cow’s milk and I didn’t know any better.)
Also, Gluten can effect the thyroid as well. Heavy metal toxicity also has an effect on the thyroid.
My son also has adrenal fatigue as well, so is taking Adrenal Cortex Glandular for this. So, if you are researching the thyroid, you need to keep the adrenals in mind as well because they thyroid hormones won’t work if the adrenals aren’t supported or doing their job. A good way to check for adrenal fatigue is with a hair test – plus you get alot of other information with this test as well. You can order a hair test directly from directlabs.com. The test is called: Hair Elements. If you call and order the test, you will get a discounted rate – mention the autism discount.
A couple of the symtoms that Nicholas has shown – many synptoms would be hard to know since he can’t tell me yet.
1. Nicholas’s gets dark circles under his eyes when his face gets really puffy
2. Sudden weight gain – 20 lbs in less than 6 months
3. Face shape is full, puffy around eyes
4. MCV tends to be 90 or less
5. WBC often in mid-normal range or high end
6. TSH numbers jumping around too much does signify a problem. Fluctuation like this can point to hashimotos.
So, since Nicholas is already taking Adrenal Cortex Glandular, we decided to do a one-month trial of Armour Thyroid. (This is natural – I would never consider using the synthetic thyroid medications – because from what I have read, they don’t really work well.) He is taking 30mg per day, which is 1/2 a grain.
Update – June 13, 2009: Nicholas’s TSH is coming down but his weight still continues to climb. He now weights 70 lbs which is 8 pounds higher than what he weighed only a couple of months ago. I’ve increased his Adrenal Cortex Extract to 2 caps 2x a day and his doctor has also suggested an increase in his Armour thyroid to 60mg per day.
Update – April 18, 2010: Nicholas has continued to gain weight despite his TSH being in the appropriate range and despite being on Armour Thyroid. I have discontinued using it at this time.
Some information on prior and outdated testing (added 5/6/2009):
There was one test which used radioactive iodine that they give you (usually to drink) and then an x ray or scan is taken of your thyroid to see what has been absorbed. What this test has achieved is the poisoning of your thyroid, not to mention that radiation is one of the most common causes of thyroid dysfunction.
Another test is where they give you an injection of Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH), which is synthetic and then they measure your TSH to see if you pituitary gland is working. However, this does not tell you anything about your thyroid. The pituitary can scream all day long but if the thyroid is not listening or cannot get the message….nothing happens. The modern TSH test has eliminated the need for this TRH test.
There is no real medical need for either of these tests when thyroid function is obvious by body temps and symptoms. But for docs who need a lab, it’s Free T3 and Free T4, TSH and thyroid antibodies. (I have not even seen a doc do those other two tests unless they think you have cancer.) Anyone who has any TSH levels at all on blood testing does not have a pituitary dysfunction as this is a rare disorder where your brain does not make TSH or makes very little and it also usually won’t make ACTH for the adrenals either. So it would be hypopituitary dysfunction which comes with a host of symptoms…you’d know if you had this.