Thyroid hormone - what is normal?
Let’s talk 👉🏿👉🏾👉🏼 Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Did you know that TSH is actually NOT a thyroid hormone?
TSH is a pituitary gland hormone. Your pituitary gland is located at the base of your brain. 🧠 This little gland receives a signal from your brain to release TSH to stimulate your thyroid to release true thyroid hormones called T4 and T3.
When most people get their thyroid checked, they typically only have their TSH level evaluated. When they’re told ‘everything looks great’ but they’re still feeling off, it can be extremely discouraging and quite honestly sometimes harmful to not look deeper.
To add a little more complexity to the picture, your TSH can change over time. Maybe you were evaluated once and it fell ‘within the normal limit’ but if you were to be retested 3 or 6 months later, things could have changed. This is ESPECIALLY true for pregnant or postpartum mamas!
To add another layer to the puzzle, in Ontario the ‘normal limit’ of TSH ranges from 0.32 all the way to 4.00 mIU/L! 😱 This range is much too wide as it accounts for the population average and not the range where people feel their best.
Most people tend to feel their best when their TSH hovers within a window that is much more narrow. These are all things that I discuss with patients if we’re thinking that something might be off with their thyroid.
Talk to your healthcare provider about having a FULL THYROID PANEL assessed. These tests are not typically covered by OHIP but if you suspect your thyroid is off, it is well worth the investment in your health to get some answers. 💕
Here is a list of markers that are assessed in a full thyroid panel:
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Free Thyroxine (Free T4)
Free Triiodothyronine (Free T3)
Reverse T3 (rT3)
If one of the above markers is off, there are many interventions that we can take to try to shift the numbers back into balance.
We might be concerned about hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or perhaps even an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, whereby your TSH might be completely normal but your thyroid antibodies are elevated. If not picked up early, Hashimoto’s disease may eventually lead to the destruction of your thyroid gland over time.
Here are some symptoms of an underactive thyroid:
Low body temperature and intolerance to cold
Fatigue all day long
Low mood (depressive type symptoms)
Muscle aches or heavy limbs
There could be a host of other symptoms since every cell in your body requires thyroid hormone. This topic is quite complex and I’ve only scratched the surface. If you have a strong family history of thyroid disease, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or if you are struggling with fertility, recurrent miscarriage or postpartum concerns (including depression or chronic fatigue), perhaps it is time to have your healthcare provider take a look at your thyroid function.
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you would like to investigate what might be going on with your thyroid.