Troubleshoot Thyroid Problems

Understand the signs of thyroid problems and how to test for a sluggish thyroid.

In This Article

Thyroid Basics

The thyroid is first and foremost responsible for metabolic activity of every cell in the body. When the metabolism is normal, one of the by-products is heat. When thyroid function is sluggish, as in a hypothyroid condition, cellular metabolism decreases, resulting in decreased production of heat. That’s why one of the major signs of a sluggish thyroid is cold hands and feet.

One of the most important jobs of the thyroid gland is to maintain a steady body temperature. Many normal functions of the body cannot be maintained when the body temperature drops. Such functions are optimal when the body temperature is maintained between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the smallest variations away from this normal temperature range can disturb the functions of many enzymes, minerals, vitamins and chemical reactions in the body. (1)

Before the advent of blood tests for thyroid, doctors depended heavily on a Basal (under the armpit upon waking) Temperature Test, along with a thorough history of the patients signs and symptoms. While this was an effective protocol for screening the thyroid, it was far from 100% accurate. As a result, iodine tests, along with thyroid hormone blood tests, were developed to more precisely diagnose the thyroid. Finally, in 1971 the Mayo Clinic pre-maturely released the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, which is still used today as an independent thyroid screen. Unfortunately, the TSH test like those before it, is not a reliable independent test for evaluating the thyroid. (1)

Common Signs of a Sluggish Thyroid: (1)

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Brittle nails
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Nervousness
  • Muscle cramps and weakness

Note: Take my Home Thyroid Screening test and watch my video on the thyroid in my article, “Tired and Sluggish? Find Out Why.”

As doctors depended more and more on blood tests to screen thyroid function, the patient experience (signs and symptoms) and simple tests like the Basal Metabolic Temperature Test have been forgotten. History tells us that the thyroid is difficult to accurately assess. This is primarily due to the fact that the thyroid hormone is found inside the cells and not in the blood, rendering blood tests less than precise.

According to the leading experts today, the best assessment of the thyroid requires a comprehensive evaluation by your primary health care provider that includes the following:

Home Basal Body Temperature Test (1)

  1. Shake down a basal thermometer the night before the test and place it on your bedside table. You can find non-mercury shake down thermometers at a pharmacy.
  2. As soon as you wake up, place the thermometer snugly under your armpit for 10 minutes. Do this for 5 days in a row. Do not get out of bed before or during this test.
  3. For menstruating women, the temperature should be taken starting on the second day of menses and continued for the next four mornings. For men and post-menopausal women, the basal temperature can be taken any time of month.
  4. A normal reading falls between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A reading below this number may indicate a sluggish thyroid. Oral and rectal temps can also be taken – normal is between 98.8 and 99.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your basal temperature is low and you are experiencing thyroid symptoms, schedule a follow-up visit with your medical doctor. If that is not possible, saliva and blood spot thyroid panels and urine iodine deficiency tests are available in our online store.

References

  1. Brownstein D. Overcoming Thyroid Disorders (2nd edition) Medical Alternatives Press. 2008

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