Got Hypothyroidism? 5 Questions You NEED to Ask Your Doctor.

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Thyroid issues can be so difficult. You already don’t feel well, and it can take awhile to figure out what will really work to get you back on track.

Here are 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Thyroid so you can be better informed, advocate for your health, and hopefully feel better fast.

Finding a doctor that will adequately test for and treat hypothyroidism can seem like a daunting task.

Indeed, I’ve gone to more doctors than I can recall searching for one who would work with me to adequately treat my hypothyroidism.

Along the way, I’ve discovered there are some good questions to start with when interviewing your doctor.

Yes, you can interview your doctors.

They work for you.

You are paying them.

If they do not answer to your satisfaction…

you should fire them.

This can be intimidating, but it’s necessary if you’re serious about regaining your health.

You may not find a doctor that answers all of these questions 100% correctly, and that might be ok.

If your doctor is willing to listen to you, partner with you, and even learn from you, you’ve likely found a winner. It’s so important that you advocate for your own health care and no doctor knows everything.

It’s equally important that you find a doctor willing to listen and work with you, and not dictate to you.

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5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Hypothyroidism

1. About Thyroid Labs

Q: What labs will you run to determine if my thyroid is functioning appropriately?
Will you primarily use TSH for diagnosing and determining whether my thyroid levels are optimal?

If the answer to this question is, “Yes, we primarily use TSH,” this should be an automatic deal-breaker. You don’t need to go any further with the rest of the questions. The interview is over. As was explained in this post, TSH has been used as the gold standard for testing thyroid function, but it’s a fairly useless test.

Be sure to check out “Your Thyroid Test is Wrong and What to Do About It” to get the low-down on the tests that you should request your doctor to run.

Your doctor may not list all of these tests, but at a very minimum they should be testing your Free T3 levels, Free T4 levels, and anti-thyroid antibodies.

2. About Lab Test Ranges

Q: What is the lab’s “normal” range for these tests and what range do you believe would be optimal for me?

Ideally, your doctor will realize that the optimal range for you will be unique.

Typically people feel their best when their Free T3 levels are towards the top of the range and their Free T4 levels are in the mid to upper range.

If your doctor runs your vitamin D levels, you should be looking for levels in the upper part of the normal range.

3. What About My Symptoms?

Q: Will you take into consideration the presence or absence of my symptoms when dosing and not just labs?

The answer you’re hoping to hear to this question is a resounding “Absolutely!”

The presence or absence of hypothyroid symptoms is so important! Your health care provider should listen to you and not just rely on a piece of paper with numbers on it for treatment.

Of course, if your labs are all at ideal levels, you and your doctor should also be open to exploring other problems that may be causing your symptoms. Maybe you need to look into adrenal function? Or a more advanced thyroid test: Reverse T3 levels. Or maybe you are having problems with anemia? Be aware, you could have confounding problems that are exasperating or mimicking your hypothyroid symptoms.

4. About Thyroid Drugs

Q: What thyroid replacement drug will you be prescribing for me?

If your doctor responds with levothyroxine (or synthroid) you may want to follow up with an additional questions: would you consider prescribing natural desiccated thyroid, such as Nature Throid or Armour thyroid?

If the doctor has answered all of the questions right up to this point and is willing to give natural desiccated thyroid a try, you’re doing pretty good. If the doctor is not willing to be flexible on this point, I’d move on and look for a new health care provider.

It’s also worth noting that there are some people who respond better to T3 only medication. Your doctor should be open to exploring this option, should you need it. Though, it appears from reading both the research as well as listening to numerous individual testimonies the vast majority of people respond the best to natural desiccated thyroid.

5. Testing Frequency

Q: How often will you run tests to check my thyroid levels?
After we have my levels adjusted to the optimal level, how often do you suggest I get tested?

Your health care provider should be checking your levels every 6-8 weeks until they are in the optimal range and you are feeling well. After which, your levels should be checked no less than once a year. Ideally, your doctor should give you a lab slip to keep on hand so you can go to the labs and have your blood drawn anytime you feel your levels may be off.

Please remember that neither Adrienne nor Trisha are doctors and we don’t pretend to be either.  Please do not make any changes to your exercise, diet, or supplement regiment without consulting with your physician.

And if you have hypothyroid symptoms, you should check out this book. It is a wealth of great information.  

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause
One of the best books on thyroid health in my opinion.

Do you have a health care provider who is doing a good job of treating your hypothryoidism?
What questions were a tell-tale sign that they were a keeper?

Trisha Gilkerson is a homeschooling mom to four crazy boys. She blogs with her awesome hubby Luke at Intoxicated on Life where they talk about faith, homeschooling, and health. They’ve authored the Write Through the Bible curriculum and family Bible Studies and have recently released their first healthy living book – Weeding Out Wheat: A Simple Faith Based Guide. They love connecting with their readers, so be sure to follow them on their blogFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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  2. For about 3-4 years now, I have been telling my doctor about my symptoms (all the hypothyroid symptoms) and my weight kept going but despite rigorous diet and moderate exercise and then no exercise as I was too exhausted to exercise. Every year she tested using the TSH and every year said I didn’t have hypothyroidism. I got to the point where I was having so many symptoms I had the majority of the fibromyalgia symptom check list covered. She still kept telling me I just needed to loose weight and that it was my depression. I finally demanded to be taken off cymbalta which cleared a lot of the fibromyalgia symptoms but I was still exhausted to the point where I was sleeping almost all day, up for a few hours and then sleeping most of the night. Still dieting very religiously but gaining more weight than ever. Finally she said I had too many symptoms for her and she couldn’t figure it out, so she sent me to an endocrinologist. One blood test, she tells me I have hypothyroidism and something called Metabolic syndrome which basically makes my body think it’s starving even when it clearly isn’t, which caused the weight gain when I was younger to begin with and also have Insulin Resistance. The endocrinologist has be wonderful, only doctor to take me seriously when I said I was dieting and exercising but now too exhausted to. She told me it didn’t matter what I did because my body is so messed up right now its not responding to diet and exercise. She has me on levothroxin (sp?) But I’m still very very tired so I’ll be asking about the natural medication. She even sent me to an obgyn for my pcos and endometriosis and a neurologist for my migraines. In six months she has done more for me than my regular doctor has in nearly a decade. I’m even starting to loose a little weight just from the medicines. She tests me every 3 months and then sees me and adjusts as needed. My regular doctor, desipite getting all reports from all these specialists now wants me to make an appointment to go over all these results with her…I’m ready to fire her and find another gp. Thank you for this great information!

    1. Wow – you have been through a lot. I’m so glad you are doing somewhat better. I hope you continue to get answers that are helpful.

    2. I have a feeling you also need to find a new doctor, one that is familiar with Hashimoto’s as you have much more going on with this than anything else. Do a lot of research on and to really learn what you are missing currently. You will be shocked and happy.

    3. My daughter has/had PCOS. she couldn’t lose weight no matter what she did. We started eating primarily organic and making everything we could from scratch. It we bought something processed, it was organic and no more than 5 ingredients unless grains etc. Within 6 months, no medicine, with the same amount of excersize, her blood levels were normal and she lost 12 lbs. After that she went vegan, ate 2 white organic potatoes with unrefined virgin coconut oil and hemalayan salt, she lost a total of 60 lbs all together. The Dr’s asked her so many questions and couldn’t believe with diet alone what had been accomplished. Best wishes to you!

      1. That is so great. I have a guest post from a friend on PCOS that I hope to have up soon—diet is crucial!

  3. sir i am 33 Years old lady my t3 t4 are normal only TSH is 21.5 and 8months back i had missed abortion, now for my safe pregnancy wat should i do

    1. I’m sorry – this is a detailed medical question. Please seek out a provider for assistance as I can’t give medical advice. Sorry.

  4. I am 42yrs old and I was told I have hypo/Hashimoto in March 2015. I m currently on levorthyrovine .050mcg. I have 2 small nodules on my thyroid. I also have chronic EBV which they can’t figure out why. I have gained close to 20lbs in the last year year and a half. I m very fatigued and get sick often. I workout regularly but gets tough with the fatigue. Should I be seeing a Endo? My doctor isn’t really help she sent me to an infectious disease doctor which always gets no where. Is this just something I have to deal with for the rest of my life?

  5. Exactly what I needed today since my chiropractor just called with the name of a primary they think will be open to more natural/less standard medicine. Thank you so much!

    My soon-to-be-ex-doctor didn’t want to run the thyroid antibody test until I asked, “Is it just a matter of checking one more box on the form?”

    “Uh, yes.”

    “Great. Let’s check that box.”

    My antibodies were/are through the roof. I just got the 6-week followup lab form in the mail which I’m supposed to take in a few weeks from now. No antibody check, and the usual TSH and T4 with nothing else.

    1. No antibody check on the follow up form? Yikes!!! Sounds like he just wants to decide what meds to put you on next time? Sorry – this is very frustrating!

  6. I am not sure what you mean. I don’t see a doctor who wrote the post. Can you tell me the name and info of this dr? I keep trying to go to recommended websites that help you find doctors, and they either don’t work right or tell me there are no doctors in my area. So I really just don’t know how to find someone. If you know how I can do that, please let me know. I would be so thankful.

    1. In the last paragraph of the post there is a link to her site (she’s a practitioner, not a physician) and you can get a free book and set up a free consult to see if you would like to work with her. Hope that helps!!

  7. I cannot find a dr in my area that uses anything besides TSH as the primary indicator. They all use it. What am I supposed to do? And it takes months to get appointments. I have Grave’s, but I am hypo because of the meds they use to keep me from being hyperthyroid (which is based on TSH levels, not FT3/4). My immune labs still show Graves’ disease and I do have a rapid heartbeat (which I never had before but is a hyperthyroid symptom). I don’t know what I am supposed to do. how do I get a good D&R when there aren’t any around where I live?

  8. I was on synthoid for fifteen years and II was having many symptoms. I went to the endocrinologist and ask her to put me on the natural harmones., she put me on armour 30 and I do not have as many symptoms. I suspect that I might have hashmotos, but I do not know what to do say if she says that it is treated the same way.

  9. I feel like you were in the doctor’s office with me. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t know the name of the correct test. I just said “I heard there’s another, more detailed test you can run.” I, of course, got a condescending answer.

      1. Probably not. I’m going to try a naturopath first. I’ve pinned this post in case I ever do, though, so I know what to ask.

  10. Great post! I wanted to throw this info into the mix: I have been on medicine for hypothyroid for 10 years now. As we’ve added children over the past 9 years, we’ve become more and more interested in living/eating healthy, and I’ve finally become aware of autoimmune issues, and how to heal them. I have now been on the GAPS protocol for 6 months and my thyroid antibodies (indicating Hashimoto’s) went from 112 (pre-GAPS), down to 22 (3.5 mos into GAPS) and now it’s under 20 (normal)! My doctor and I are in the process of reducing the dosage of my medicine.

  11. ‘Good post! One thing I like about my current prescribing doctor is that he “lets” me dose myself pretty much. Since pathogens and toxins have been my major root cause, things have changed often enough that I cannot wait to see what a blood test will say (and by that time it’s probably changed again!). Plus, I’ve learned to read my body fairly well so that I usually know when my dose needs to change. My former endocronologist was adamant about waiting for blood test results most of the time, leaving me feeling more awful for an unnecessary time.

    1. That’s great you can have such trusting relationship with your doctor. It does take a person who is in tune with their body to know how to dose themselves. I can pretty well tell when my thyroid levels are off too.

  12. Thanks Adrienne and Trisha for all you do. I really appreciate this information as this is the way I am having to go. Not only is it nice to know that others experience the same thing I do with Doctors but the information is a wealth of knowledge.

    Thanks again!!

    1. Finding a good doctor is frustrating! I’m glad this information can be useful. I hope you’re able to find someone soon who will be able to help get you on track 🙂

  13. I was diagnosed with low thyroid many years ago, and put on synthetic thyroid hormone. It didn’t make me feel any different, so I eventually stopped taking it. At one point I asked to be tested for Hashimoto’s and the specialist refused to order the test. He said it didn’t matter whether I had it or not, because the treatment was the same.

    1. Sheryl,
      The synthetic thyroid hormone didn’t help me either? Have you found a doctor that will work with you? If not, it sounds like it would be a good idea to find a doctor who can really partner with you to get to the bottom of your health issues and treatment options. If you’re not sure where to start, be sure to read the post I linked to above that will give you tips for finding a good thyroid doctor, then these questions will help you decide if they really are going to be a good fit!