What to do if your thyroid doctor dismisses you
Guest post for Thycan Survivors written by Paloma Health
At least 20 million Americans have a thyroid condition, and the most common disorder is hypothyroidism. Some people end up with an underactive thyroid because of autoimmune thyroiditis or their genetics. In contrast, others may have medically-induced hypothyroidism from cancer treatment. No matter what kind of thyroid disease you have, you likely will need to have a close relationship with your thyroid doctor for the rest of your life. Regrettably, some patients don't jive with their doctors, and some may even be dismissed by their doctor. Your health depends on you having a good working relationship with your provider. Ahead, what to do if your thyroid doctor dismisses you, followed by tips for cultivating a solid relationship.
Feeling dismissed by your thyroid doctor?
Your doctor should never dismiss you. Your symptoms, thoughts, and insights into your health are extremely valuable and are worthy of being considered and heard.
If your doctor blows you off when you tell them something about your symptoms or perhaps mention a treatment option, there are a few things to consider.
Firstly, don't hesitate to repeat yourself to make sure your doctor heard and understood your question or thought. Then, let your doctor know that you would like them to talk you through why they do not think a specific treatment option or test may be valuable to you. Make sure you listen carefully in hopes they return the same favor to you.
Secondly, if you have researched something they have dismissed, share what you learned and ask them if they are familiar with what you are talking about with your care. Your goal is to partner with your doctor, NOT to prove them wrong or doubt their experience and knowledge.
If you feel your doctor is not your health partner at any point in your relationship, know that there are many other options. Your location or physical proximity to care is not necessarily prohibitive anymore with telemedicine thyroid care.
And let's be honest: sometimes people don't mesh, and that's okay. Fortunately, many other thyroid doctors out there will be a good partner with whom to manage your health.
How to build a good relationship with your thyroid doctor
Educate yourself about your condition
It is essential to research and understand your condition, as well as all available treatment options. While your thyroid doctor should be well-educated about your condition, it can help to educate yourself as much as possible, too. Knowledge is power, and the more information you have, the better you can advocate for yourself as a patient.
Knowing about your condition also helps you ask good questions when you meet your doctor. The more you know, the more you will be able to ask about different treatment options—especially if you are like the 65% of hypothyroid patients that still have symptoms despite taking medication.
Regularly check and understand your thyroid blood work
Patients with hypothyroidism should retest their thyroid hormone levels every six months or more frequently if changing medication type or dose. Regular thyroid blood testing helps you and your doctor ensure you are on the proper thyroid medication and dosage and also helps monitor antibody levels if you have Hashimoto's.
Many doctors look only at thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to assess thyroid function. Experts at Paloma Health believe it is critical also to measure Free Triiodothyronine (fT3), Free Thyroxine (fT4), and TPO antibodies to understand the complete picture of your thyroid health.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone is a hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland in your brain, telling the thyroid gland how much thyroid hormone to make and release.
Thyroxine (T4) is one of the primary hormones that the thyroid makes and releases into the bloodstream. However, T4 is relatively inactive as it is a storage form of thyroid hormone.
Triiodothyronine is the active form of thyroid hormone. It becomes active once T4 converts to T3 in the liver and other body tissues. About 20% of thyroid hormone in the body is T3, and it is responsible for regulating cellular metabolism.
Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies
TPO is an enzyme usually found in the thyroid gland that plays a role in producing thyroid hormones. The presence of TPO antibodies suggests an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto's disease. In autoimmune disorders, your immune system produces antibodies that mistakenly attack healthy tissue. In Hashimoto's disease, specifically, antibodies attack the thyroid gland, possibly leading to reduced thyroid function.
You do not need to wrestle with your doctor to order the thyroid labwork you need. Now, you can take $30 off your first purchase of an at-home thyroid test kit with coupon code THYCAN (case sensitive) on Paloma Health's website.
Keep a log of your symptoms
Keep a daily log of your symptoms so that you and your doctor can assess this information. Being organized at your doctor's visits helps your doctor give you the best care possible.
This free mobile app has a built-in symptom tracker so you can track symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and your menstrual periods so you can see how they change over time.
Go to your follow-up appointments
A great way to optimize your thyroid health, and stay connected with your doctor, is to attend all of your follow-up appointments. Follow-up care is an excellent way for your doctor to check in on your symptoms, make sure your medication is optimally dosed, and assess physical or mental signs that your thyroid health is on track.
Some patients disregard follow-up appointments and only show up to their doctor's office when in a crisis. Conversely, patients who are diligent with their follow-up care are more likely to avoid emergencies. These people likely have an easier time seeing their doctor when a problem arises.
Take your medication as prescribed
Optimizing your thyroid hormone levels with thyroid hormone replacement medication is usually the first step in minimizing hypothyroid symptoms. When selecting thyroid medication with your thyroid doctor, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all option. Once you've chosen the most effective thyroid medication for your particular needs, it's vital to follow your doctor's directions. For example, most people taking a synthetic version of thyroxine (T4) need to take this medication at the same time each day and on an empty stomach. Several factors can interfere with your thyroid medication, so be aware of these things to optimize your thyroid levels.
Beyond taking thyroid medication, you can support your thyroid health with nutrition and lifestyle modifications. Ask yourself, Am I eating well? Getting enough sleep? Doing something to relieve stress? Connecting with my community in a meaningful way?
You deserve good health! Partner with a trustworthy thyroid doctor who can assess your symptoms, history, and lab results to determine the best treatment plan for you.
At-home thyroid blood test GIVEAWAY
You made it this far--congrats! You now have some helpful knowledge that I know will help you when (and if!) your thyroid doctor is dismissive towards you.
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