Troubleshooting your thyroid: are metabolism TSH blood tests enough?

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This is my factory analogy for understanding your thyroid that might be particularly helpful if a doctor gave you basic bloodwork to dismiss your metabolism concerns or if you buy your own tests So if you're like I used to be, you picture your thyroid as something that can get worn out and then it makes you depressed and grows your belly

So it never occurred to me that I might have a low metabolism because I was a cheerful skeleton man But the more I learned about how thyroid hormone affects just about every cell you've got, the more I found it useful to picture the thyroid as just one worker on a production line So the company mascot starts the process by taking in supplies and squirting out the thyroid hormones And those are in two main forms: a little of the type that's ready for immediate consumption, and a lot of the type that's bottled up to be ready for the long-term You'll see these on comprehensive thyroid tests as T3 and T4 until science catches up to my bottling terminology

Now let's move down the production line to that person at every company that works really hard but gets no credit 'cause their name's not on the building In addition to all its other jobs the liver has to open the bottles so that the hormones are more easily accessible to the factory's customers It's not that these customer cells can't open the bottles themselves, the liver's just really good at it The last two workers are this pair of stern productivity consultants First is that little brain dumpling who's probably the reason you first started thinking about smooching

And then there's the snooperthalamus who's always nosing around for things to change So these two are in charge of monitoring the amount of thyroid hormone being produced and gossiping about it with their own little hormonal whisper Which is easy for them to share because they have this weird chin-snuggling relationship But if they conclude that they're not seeing enough factory output, The pituitary gets a little spiteful and spits out these angry write-ups to send to the thyroid And these are called TSH for thyroid stimulating hormone because they're meant to stimulate the thyroid to work harder

This spitting has got to be the reason for the name p'too-itary So when you get the most basic of thyroid blood tests, they won't actually include the real thyroid hormones, just this pituitary one So be careful of a mistake here I've seen people make where they think their blood test showing TSH galore means that their metabolism is good Which is understandable from its name, but just know that this pituitary spit is generally the inverse of your real thyroid hormones because it's a complaint about there not being enough of them Now a doctor is not going to misunderstand that inversion, but if they're just a general practitioner that's casually looking at your metabolism with this being the only hormone they test, they may just look at whether your value was flagged for being outside the reference range of seemingly normal people

Where if you're below the cutoff, your customer cells might be getting too much of a good thing, and if you're above, it your metabolic rate might be suffering But arguably that cutoff is influenced by a flawed sample of people and might also exclude somewhat normal people that could still benefit from treatment So I think if you have hypothyroid symptoms, it's worth at least noticing how close you are to that normal cutoff And if you've been tested more than once, notice where it's trending over the years And to also account for some fuzziness on the measurement itself because it's affected by your age, your ethnicity, your sex, and even surprising things like whether you ate before the testing, and what time of day you tested, and whether you had supplements with biotin in them, and even just what the season was

And all of that is based on trusting the opinion of these two gumbos who've got an unfair eye for those shiny bottles instead of the most customer-friendly product So to summarize, a basic blood panel you might have gotten is a great clue about your thyroid but it shouldn't always be used to dismiss your metabolism concerns Now I've thought of some thyroid topics for future videos, but I'm curious which ones people would actually want Or if I should jump to the runner-up topics from my last poll So leave a comment if you have a preference or an idea for one that I haven't shown

The Feed Dan a Potato Project is supported by patrons like you I wanted to put a link to my Patreon in the video but YouTube now requires 1000 subscribers to do that, so please just futz around with the description And you'll find the link there

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