If you suffer from hypothyroidism, it is likely that you’ll be on a thyroid hormone replacement drug for the rest of your life. This is especially true if you have had thyroid surgery or thyroid treatment involving either iodine or radiation.
When your hormone levels, which affect so many important body processes, depend on proper monitoring and care by a doctor, it is paramount that you know how to advocate for yourself as a patient!
No one knows your body better than you. Your lab results may check out as “normal,” but you are the one who experiences the daily symptoms. If you still feel hypothyroid, you should have a conversation with your doctor.
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) estimates that some 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. That’s a lot of people! Therefore, it can be considered a fairly common disease with established symptoms and treatment options.
Because of this prevalence, it’s also common that many medical professionals treat hypothyroidism the textbook way. However, the truth is that hypothyroid patients can present with a diverse range of symptoms and can have varied responses to medications. Further still, patients can still feel hypothyroid even when their labs show they are within the normal range.
We know that no matter how long they’ve been getting treatment, only 35% of patients claim they’ve gotten better.
In order to be an advocate for yourself as a patient, you need to fully understand your condition. You can research hypothyroidism in textbooks, reputable websites, the Paloma blog, and by having conversations with your doctor. Additionally, you can find support and connect with others that share your condition in support groups and online forums.
After you have read and researched your diagnosis, then you should do the same for treatment options. We are all unique with individual sensitivities. Our bodies will not all react the same way to a specific medication or dosage. Finding the right treatment and right dosage is a step-by-step process that takes time, requires monitoring, and ultimately depends on trust and communication with your provider.
It's important to discuss all of your options with your doctor, including the side-effects, costs, and efficacy of all possible treatment options. Thyroid hormone replacement drugs are powerful. This is why it is critical to be under careful medical supervision when on these drugs, especially when starting a new brand or increasing dosage levels.
The goal should be to be in partnership with your doctor - NOT to prove them wrong or doubt their knowledge and experience. Gaining knowledge on your condition simply allows you to be in conversation with them and to ask better questions.
With labs being drawn every six months or so, you should be able to read and understand your lab results. While many labs only look at thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), we believe it’s critical to also measure free triiodothyronine (fT3), free thyroxine (fT4), and TPO antibodies.
If you feel the telltale signs of hypothyroidism, but your doctor is only testing for TSH, it’s totally in your right to request for T4 and T3 to be tested as well. Often, TSH does not give the full picture to assess thyroid health.
Paloma’s comprehensive blood tests and online dashboard makes it easy to understand what’s happening with your health and when you need to take action. Your Paloma Care Team will keep you updated with your tests and your consultations to make sure you’re always on top of your health.
Having other conditions in addition to hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s makes being an advocate for yourself all the more important.
While we believe it smart for you to find a thyroid doctor who loves what they do, and make you feel heard and understood, we don’t advise that you stop seeing your primary care physician, nutritionist, physical therapist, or you get the point. Not all health concerns always link back to your thyroid - there may be something else going on - so a well-rounded Care Team will support you most effectively.
Your Care Team should work together to get you feeling your best. Each doctor should know and care what tests have been ordered, what diagnoses you’ve received, and what medications or supplements you take.
Ultimately, you want to establish a trusting relationship with your doctor. If you feel you’re not being heard or understood, despite adequate preparation to a strong self-advocate and diligent efforts to be in partnership with your doctor, it may be time to switch practitioners. The road to health and well-being can be long, and you want to have an informed and trusted thyroid doctor in your corner.
Find inspiration for a healthy way to support your thyroid