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Can a blood test show false TSH levels?
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Can a blood test show false TSH levels?

At the end of January or so, I went to talk to my family doctor about some symptoms I have been having, such as low energy levels, dry skin, outside thinning of the eyebrows, pale skin, weakness, irritability, and most importantly hair loss. The most concern I got was because of my thinning eyebrows and hair loss. Usually you notice when there is a a change in your body, including your hair. I saw a significant difference in the amount of hair I was losing compared to in the past. I read a lot about hypothyroidism on the Internet and I have all the symptoms. When I went to talk to my doctor, she didn't seem too concerned and said we would do a blood test. When the results came back, I was informed by her secretary that my TSH levels came back TOO abnormal and the doctor thought that there was a mistake in the blood work and I should redo the blood test in 6 weeks. It has now been more than 6 weeks and my next appointment to redo a blood test is in April. I started taking kelp tablets, because my symptoms were just worsening. I had no energy whatsoever and any simple activity, including housework set me back. I almost feel as if I am in my 60's half the time although I'm only 24. My doctor is very unprofessional. Any symptoms I tell her about, she makes them out to be as if they are nothing. I also read that TSH levels cannot show your thyroid levels directly and an antibody test is necessary in order to determine where your hormones stand. However, in Canada, all patients need referrals from the family doctor if they wanna go to a specialist, including an Endocrinologist, so tough luck! I just think sometimes you don't need a test, including a blood test to tell you when something is wrong with you, because your body tells you everything. I know how I used to be and the way I have become now, including my body. My hair loss has stopped a little, but that's because I have been taking something against it. I had to cut off half my hair. For now I am taking the kelp tablets and they help me a little, but I also read that taking too much kelp can have an adverse effect. It just ***** sometimes when you don't have a caring doctor. Many patients constantly complain about my doctor. I am thinking to find a new one, but in Canada, you are lucky when you find even just one doctor. Many people are put on waiting lists. My sister was also diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. The funny thing, our doctor also didn't find any problems with her thyroid although she had a lot of the symptoms. When she moved to Germany, her doctor found her to be hypothyroid. She also went to see an Endocrinologist without a referral there. Anyone can go see a specialist in Germany without the referral of your regular doctor. You just have to pay 10 Euros. The Endocrinologist did all kinds of tests on her and put her on some hormones, which he thought are better for her. She says they seem to be better than the synthetic ones she was taking before. Has anyone had similar problems with diagnosis? What are your recommendations? I also heard that taking coconut oil internally helps regulate the thyroid. I am looking for more natural alternatives. I also heard about Armour Thyroid, but naturally your doctor has to prescribe that for you.
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219241_tn?1357815389
First up, we'd really need to see what your levels were when they were abnormal. Secondly, reading on the internet and self diagnosing and self medicating is dangerous. Not to put a too fine a point on it, but even if you think you are hypo and your TSH levels are showing something you are not aware of, and you take kelp tablets, you run the risk of becoming hyper and indeed could even induce a thyroid storm. Whenever someone is undiagnosed it is not safe to take anything untill you know what you are dealing with.
Yes it is true the TSH on its own is not the be all and all of testing, and it is imperative you get Free T4 and Free T3 testing along with TSH. BUT however TSH is the beginning of finding out what is wrong. Antibody testing is also important.
  
Canada is no different to Australia with referrals to an endocrinologist. We have issues here with finding a good one. You need to get full thyroid testing though, which your doctor can do.  Germany's reference ranges may be narrower than Canada's and that is why your sisters hypo was discovered. For example. Here in Aus, TSH ref range is wide, 0.35 -5.50 mIU/L    in USA it is 0.3- 3.0. So someone here at say 4.7 will be classed as normal but in USA would be treated as hypo. (As happened to me!)  I have no doubt that Canada is using the same old ref ranges as Australia, which could be part of your problem.

   Synthetic thyroid hormone is often prescribed by many doctors. Many patients do not do well on it. There are many 'natural' thyroid replacement hormone product on the market, Armour being one of them. Naturethroid is another. (Not sure of availability  in Canada) The newest on the market is Tirosent. Not a natural but much better than a tablet. It is in a gel cap form.

   My recommendations are; see a new doctor, ask for the TSH, Free T3, Free T4, all antibodies for thyroid (TPO, Tg, and TSI) Keep off the kelp till you after are tested as you may well get a false TSH and Free T4 reading. (kelp has high iodine levels and depending on how much you are taking it can affect the thyroid in the wrong way)  Keep a record of your symptoms and present them to the doctor as well.Mention your sister is hypo as well, this often helps doctors to understand family history has a better chance of diagnosing a patient may be similar.

Cheers


  
  
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much. That was really informative. I certainly do need a new doctor. Regarding the kelp tablets, I'm not taking a high dose and I will stop taking them a few weeks before I decide to see my doctor. If I get different TSH levels, I will let her know that I have been taking the kelp tablets. I just cannot wait until April. My symptoms were pretty bad, but since I started taking the kelp tablets, I feel a lot better. I will certainly ask her to do the antibody tests for thyroid, but it is like banging your head against the wall asking her to refer you to a specialist. She is also fully aware of my sister's condition, because my mom mentioned it to her more than once and even asked her how come they were not able to discover the hypothyroidism while she was living in Canada. I was also told about the difference of readings in regards to being hypothyroid in Canada and Europe. I think we should all follow the same readings worldwide. My doctor even told me last time I was borderline hypothyroid, but she didn't say a word until my last appointment. It seems they don't make a big deal about thyroid issues, not realizing how much it can affect a patient, as well as his or her life! You just gotta find the right doctor who cares enough to put you through all the tests until you find the root of the problem. I found a good Endocrinologist who also considers Naturopathy in the Toronto area. I might give him a call to find out if he is available, or if I need a referral. The only thing is that there is a long waiting list, because he has a lot of patients and he's that good! Either way, thanks again for the informative answer. I really appreciate it.
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Avatar_m_tn
Good answer from Red.  I would only add that a good thyroid doctor is willing to treat you clinically, by testing and adjusting FT3 and FT4 levels as necessary to relieve symptoms, without being constrained by resultant TSH levels.  A good thyroid doctor will also be willing to prescribe meds other than just T4 types.

I have found it to save a lot of time and aggravation by calling the doctor's office before making an appointment and asking one of the nurses if the doctor is willing to do these two things.  If not, then why waste time there?
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