So, you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Maybe your primary care physician has helped you up to this point. You might even wonder, if my primary care doctor ordered my thyroid tests, diagnosed me, and prescribed me drugs, why would I need to see anyone else?
Developing a relationship with a hormone and thyroid specialist - an endocrinologist - is an excellent idea for people dealing with thyroid problems. There are many benefits to having an endocrinologist as well as a primary care doctor.
Endocrinologists are thyroid experts. They stay up-to-date on the latest thyroid research and treatments, and also understand how to manage patients that don’t have textbook symptoms. An endocrinologist won’t replace your primary care physician, but they can be a useful addition to your Care Team.
Endocrinologists have years of specialized education in endocrinology, a branch of internal medicine. The endocrine system includes the thyroid glands and the adrenal glands, which secrete hormones that affect the actions of different organ systems in the body. With this specialized training, endocrinologists are particularly prepared to assess and treat disorders of the endocrine system, including thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism.
Endocrinologists work exclusively with endocrinology patients, and some endocrinologists specialize even further, seeing only patients with thyroid problems. It makes sense, then, that these doctors have more experience and expertise related specifically to the thyroid than your primary care physician, who is widely trained in all areas of medicine.
Because the endocrine system is their speciality, endocrinologists stay up-to-date on the latest thyroid-related research and treatments. While your primary care doc stays current on medical developments too, they may not know as much about the cutting edge research in endocrinology because they have such a broad focus. Seeing an endocrinologist could mean you are offered new types of testing or medication before most primary care physicians even learn about them.
Primary care doctors typically only look at the popular Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) when ordering labs to assess your thyroid health. Unfortunately, this does not give a complete picture of how your thyroid is functioning or how to make improvements.
Paloma Health believes it’s critical to also measure Free Triiodothyronine (fT3), Free Thyroxine (fT4), and TPO antibodies. Our board-certified thyroid doctors know that this complete thyroid test will give better insight for patients who don’t fit the textbook profile of a thyroid patient.
Endocrinologists are deeply knowledgeable on endocrinology research, so they are more familiar with the nuances of thyroid disease. They are better able to help patients identify the cause of unusual test result patterns, and more likely to explore all possible treatments based on your symptoms and history.
While we believe it smart for you to find an endocrinologist who loves what they do, and make you feel heard and understood, we don’t advise that you stop seeing your primary care physician. Both doctors serve a purpose, and will support you in different ways. (For example, you won’t contact your endocrinologist about a virus or broken bone!)
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.
Paloma Health offers comprehensive hypothyroidism care from best-in-class endocrinologists and wellness experts.
You may also consider adding a Health Coach to your Care Team. If you have an underactive thyroid gland, what you eat may affect your thyroid disease, including the absorption of your thyroid medication.
Some nutritionists are trained to treat patients with hypothyroidism, helping you to not only lose weight but also make sure that your diet does not interfere with your thyroid meds and reduce the severity of your symptoms at the same time.
You can ask your primary care physician to make a referral to an endocrinologist in your network.
Alternatively, Paloma Health is modern healthcare for hypothyroidism. We only treat patients with hypothyroidism and we’ve built the best team to accomplish that goal. You can take our at-home thyroid test kit and talk to a best-in-class thyroid doctor and/or wellness expert from the comfort of your couch.
We don’t require a referral from your primary care doctor, though depending on what type of insurance you hold, you might have to get one in order for your care with us to be covered.
Schedule a complimentary phone call with one of our health care advisors to find out if Paloma is right for you.
In any case, we hope you discover how a good thyroid doctor can change your life!
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