Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What Happens When You Are Diagnosed With Hyperthyroidism

Most people diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and Graves Disease tell very similar stories. 

Symptoms seem to come on very suddenly, racing heartbeat, sweating, anxiety or panic attacks, weight loss, digestive symptoms, swelling on neck. Not everyone has all those symptoms, but most have some of them.

Usually a medical doctor will run a lab for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and find it quickly. Sometimes this lab is run as part of an emergency room visit. Sometimes it take some time to get the diagnosis and the patient may have been treated for a wrong diagnosis.

Diagnostic measures for hyperthyroidism

Typical labs ordered to confirm a diagnosis include:
  • TSH, T3 and T4
  • Radio-active uptake scan test (to differentiate graves disease from other causes of hyperthyroidism, such as a thyroid hormone secreting nodule)
  • Anti-bodies. These include thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (also called TSH receptor antibody)
Suggestion of the radio-active uptake test makes many patients worried about radiation. The medical doctors are typically dismissive about such concerns and tell patients there are no side effects to worry about.

Anti-body tests may be run. Sometimes medical doctors want to run an uptake scan. Other times people are given a Graves disease diagnosis without it. 

Where almost everyone with Grave's disease ends up

Eventually patients are given these options:
  • Have the thyroid gland destroyed with radio-active iodine, or removed surgery
  • Treat with drugs which are toxic to the body - although typically the medical doctors will push patients to have the thyroid gland destroyed. 
It doesn't seem to matter much how severe symptoms are, these are the only options conventional medicine gives patients.

Common reactions to medical advice

  •  Fearful. The medical treatments are not benign. Patients worry about how their body would function without a thyroid. Also they are concerned about side effects from medications or radiation therapy. It seems that whichever direction they go has the potential for side effects.
  • Hopeless - in the conventional medical world there are no other options, which may make people feel they have no power to take control over their own health.
  • Being unsure of what to do.
Typically patients will be having one or more of these reactions. 

Is there an alternative option?

Many times there is. Conventional medicine lumps all people with Graves disease together, and offers them all the most radical treatment. Graves disease is a dangerous illness, which must be taken seriously. In some cases the conventional route has merit.

However, many cases are not so severe to warrant immediate destruction of the thyroid gland. What can be done through natural health?
  •  First, going over labs in detail. Many people with hyperthyroidism never get a full set of labs needed to assess their situation. This includes full thyroid pane (TSH, T3, T4 and antibodies to Grave's and Hashimoto's - as often both are elevated - this is TSI, TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies). Additionally other labs such as CBC , WBC, and vitamin D are important.
  • Supplements to help control symptoms. There are many supplements that can be used to control symptoms.
  • Deeper work for the underlining cause of hyperthyroidism. This is beyond the scope of this article. For more information on this go to my video on Graves disease

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