Before lab testing became available, physicians actually used their eyes and ears, listened to the patient’s history, and used their knowledge of the clinical picture of hypothyroidism to make a diagnosis. With the advent of lab testing; patient history, signs and symptoms have been forgotten. According to the new paradigm, if your lab tests are within “normal’ limits, you can’t be hypothyroid. Doctors trained in Functional Medicine take the opposite approach, using the patient’s presentation as a primary tool; understanding the value and limitations of lab testing.
See how you score on my thyroid test. This can provide valuable insight into the status of how well your thyroid is functioning at the cellular level, which is what really matters to you. This quiz is for educational purposes. It is not intended as a diagnosis of any medical problem or condition. Consult your health care provider for analysis of thyroid-related medical conditions.
The following are common symptoms of hypothyroidism. Check any symptoms you have. Add the number of symptoms and total at the bottom. If you have three or more symptoms in the left column or five or more total, there is a high probability you are hypothyroid. If you have two in the left or four total, there is a reasonable probability you are hypothyroid.
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Cold hands and feet
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Unexplained weight gain/Inability to lose weight
- Puffy face
- Eyelid swelling
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle or joint aches, tenderness, stiffness cramps
- Frequent infections, especially bladder/kidney or respiratory
- Brittle/ridged nails
- Menstrual problems
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
- Inability to concentrate
- Brain fog
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Decreased Perspiration
- Heart problems
- Easy bruising
- Sleep apnea
- Hoarseness of voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Throat pain
Signs are something objective; that someone can observe physically. Lab testing would be an objective sign. There are more signs of hypothyroidism than listed here, but they take a trained observer to see or interpret. Just like not everyone has every symptom of hypothyroidism, not everyone has every sign. If you do have any of these signs, it is a good indicator that you may be hypothyroid and should be thoroughly evaluated.
Overweight or obesity
Overweight is defined as a Body Mass Index or BMI of 25-30%. Obesity is a BMI of over 30%. (Click Here to calculate your BMI). Either can be a sign of hypothyroidism, especially if you find it very difficult to lose weight, while following a good diet and exercising.
Does your lower neck seem enlarged? Is it bigger than your upper neck? If so, you may have a goiter, especially if you have difficulty swallowing. (Click Here for an example of goiter)
This is swelling due to the deposit of mucin in the subcutaneous tissue. It can be observed in the following locations:
- Often you will see marked puffiness and swelling under the eyes. (Click Here for pics).
- Stick out your tongue. Does it look swollen compared to other people’s? Are the edges of your tongue scalloped, like a clamshell? If so, this is due to a swollen tongue pressing against the teeth. The surface of the tongue may have deep fissures (Click Here for pics)
- Pinch the side of your forearm and try to pull the skin away from the underlying tissue. If you can’t do it, you may have myxedema. (Click Here for instruction)
- Press with a fingertip on the outside of your calf. Does it leave a depression that lasts for a few seconds? If so, you may have myxedema. (Click Here for pics)
A classic sign of hypothyroidism, one that is almost diagnostic of the condition, is when at least the outside 1/3 of your eyebrows are missing. If you notice that they have receded and no longer reach to the outside of your eye socket, there is a good chance that you are hypothyroid. (Click Here for pics)
Significantly elevated cholesterol is a classic sign from times past of low thyroid function; one that has almost been forgotten. This is especially true if your triglycerides are not also elevated.
An elevated TSH is obviously a classic sign of hypothyroidism. Only a doctor trained in Functional Medicine will appreciate that TSH levels between 3-5uU/ml may be indicative of functional hypothyroidism. In addition, a low TSH, coupled with low or low normal Total T4 and free T3 is indicative of a poorly functioning hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis.
Did you score 4 or more in the Symptoms part of the quiz? Did you have one or more positive signs? If so, take the next free step in determining if you are functionally hypothyroid. All you need is a thermometer and to follow these directions: Basal Metabolic Test.
About the Author: Dr. Douglas L. Weed
Dr. Weed practices Functional Nutrition, Chiropractic care, and offers weight loss solutions in Napa, CA at Heun Chiropractic, Inc. He has a doctorate in Chiropractic care and he has received certifications in physical rehabilitation and as a Qualified Medical Examiner. With a post-graduate certification in Functional Medicine, focusing on functional endocrinology, digestive disorders and Peripheral Neuropathy, he is committed to lifelong education and helping patience transform their health.