I encounter a lot of people that have a missed low thyroid. It is not their doctor’s fault, it is just that doctor’s are traditionally not trained to treat patients at optimal levels. Rather, they are trained to treat to “normal levels”. The problem with that is that the normal values are taken from the general population and includes people who do not feel well. You want to feel optimal, not normal (normal these days is overweight, tired, and with different aches and pains—this is not what you want!)
How do you know if you have a low thyroid?? Common symptoms are generalized fatigue, dry skin, dry hair, constipation, and difficulty losing weight despite a healthy lifestyle. A commonly drawn lab that can show an underactive thyroid is the TSH–Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The TSH basically tells your thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone. If your TSH is above 2 (some say 1.8) then this indicates an under-active thyroid. A high level TSH means your body is working hard to try and get your body to make thyroid hormone.
There are also other thyroid blood levels to look at, such as the actual T3 and T4 thyroid hormone levels. Low levels of these can be another indicator of a low thyroid. I find that the best thing to do is to talk to my patients and figure out their symptoms and then correlate it with the labs (looking for optimal levels of course). A low thyroid typically shows up in the symptoms and goes away with proper treatment. It takes communication between a patient and their doctor who is trained to provide optimal health in order to optimize your hormones and ultimately how you feel. This is not something that is valued by traditional insurances. However, there is a growing number of physicians like myself that offer customized care that gives you the solution that you need if you are willing to invest a little time and money into yourself.