Essential Hypothyroidism Facts #2
As I've said in an earlier post, many people - especially (middle-aged/older) women - are trying to cope with a health problem they may not even realise they have - hypothyroidism (under-activity of the thyroid gland). Perhaps they've had blood tests at their doctor's surgery but they've come back within the 'normal' range. (Normal for whom? You aren't me. Men aren't women etc.)
The problem with a blood test is that it is a 'snapshot' of that moment the blood is taken. Thyroid hormones may ebb and flow during the day; perhaps at the moment the blood was taken, the thyroid hormone was flowing, but that may not be the case during the whole day/week/month. Also, the lab may have made a mistake - it happens. Or your doctor isn't reading the result correctly - that happens too! Or s/he hasn't asked for the right thyroid test for you.
This was the case with me; I have the autoimmune version of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's, which shows up on the TPO blood test, which my doctor didn't/wouldn't authorise (costs money you see!). Another problem with the usual TSH tests is that they are not as scientifically accurate as they need to be. Independent research has shown that they are only 30% accurate. So it is common for a person with thyroid problems to have a completely 'normal' thyroid blood result.
There are 2 ways in which you can test yourself for possible hypothyroidism (I say 'possible' as neither home test is a definite diagnosis, but may indicate the likelihood of a thyroid problem.):
This method of measuring the basal body temperature to diagnose thyroid conditions was developed by Dr Broda Barnes. Take your temperature every morning BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF BED, (making as little movement as possible) and each afternoon. Stick to the same times each day. Keep a record of the results. Disregard those days when you have a cold/'flu/fever, or if you have had a lot of alcohol the night before, are stressed or have had a sleepless night, as you may get an incorrect reading. Women who are menstruating (or ovulating - your temperature rises then) should wait until their period has ended.
Some say to put the thermometer under your tongue, some say to place it in the armpit. Whichever you do, stay with the same method. As it's difficult to get hold of a mercury thermometer these days, you'll no doubt be using a digital one. Make sure it is on zero before you use it and wait until it beeps before you remove it. Broda Barnes recommended placing it in the mouth for 10 minutes. If using the underarm area then be aware that the temperature reading here will be generally lower than in the mouth, and ADD 0.5 degree C (0.8 F). Don't place in the mouth if you've just had a hot drink as you'll get an abnormally high reading! Wait 20-30 minutes to allow the mouth to cool. The 'normal' body temperature is 37 C (98.6F). This is an average, as we are individuals, not clones! Normal for you may be 0.6 C (1 degree F) lower than the average, so bear this in mind.
If however your temperature readings are CONSISTENTLY lower than 36.6 C (97.8 F) then you may have an underactive thyroid gland. If it is CONSISTENTLY above 37 F (98.6 F) then you may be HYPERthyroid (overactive).
Note that the OPTIMUM oral temperature is 36.7 C (98 F) before rising. This should rise to 37 - 37.2 F (98.6 - 99 F) for about 10 hours a day after rising (this figure assumes you rise between 8am and 11am, which these days isn't the norm! So adjust accordingly; if you wake and record your temperature at 6 am, you can expect it to start to rise from 9 am.) The best time to take your afternoon temperature is between 11 am and 3pm, at least 20 minutes after lunch. Your thyroid function should be at its best between these hours.
The second test you can record is your pulse rate. Like the temperature recording, take your basal (resting) pulse BEFORE GETTING OUT OF BED in the morning, and again in the afternoon, after you've been seated or lying down for AT LEAST 5 MINUTES. You could use a heart rate monitor if you have one, or have a watch or clock close by, with a second hand. Start counting as it reaches say, the hour (or half hour, or wherever) and record how many pulse beats there are in a minute. Alternatively, count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. I prefer to count for the whole minute in case of fluctuations during that time. If you can find the pulse in your wrist, use that. I find it much easier to find the pulse at the carotid artery in my neck. It feels much stronger and so is easier to count each beat.
If you are registering fewer than 85 beats per minute it suggests (especially if your temperatures are subnormal) hypothyroidism. If your resting pulse rate is consistently higher than 85 per minute, then this may indicate hyperthyroidism (overactive) though this could also be due to possible underlying infection, food intolerances or an excess of adrenaline).
More on self-help for hypothyroidism to follow.....
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