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Has this been your experience? While lab values are a good starting point for a health assessment, they are not the end all determination of health. Relying solely on lab values to determine health completely leaves out the personal assessment component. This method especially places too much emphasis on what is considered “normal” by reference labs. What does this mean? Reference labs assign a range of values that they consider physiologically “normal”. However, frequently the values don't correlate to your symptoms. A better concept would be to optimize your labs to your symptoms within a safe range.
What do we mean by that? Let’s use thyroid hormone (free T3) as an example. Normal lab range is 2.2-4.5 depending on the lab that is used. If you are feeling tired and fatigued, and your T3 is 2.5, you may be told that this is normal and not the cause of your fatigue. An alternative option is to prescribe desiccated thyroid until your symptoms of fatigue are reduced. If you are already on desiccated thyroid, you would use this same principal and increase your dosage to maximize your results until you feel better. Many people will need values over 4.5 in order to feel well for a variety of reasons and there are rarely any side effects. Some doctors will “worry” about higher doses of T3, but there are no studies to prove serious side effects from desiccated thyroid supplementation.
Another aspect to look at is the medications being used to address your lab values. For example, Synthroid is a very common thyroid replacement drug. As its name implies, it is synthetic T4. Unfortunately, your body does not readily convert that to free T3, which is the bioactive form needed for your health. Synthroid does however reduce the TSH level, which can be used to judge adequate thyroid replacement. Thus the interaction: “your labs are normal”, “but doctor, I still feel bad.” If that is the case with you, don’t stop inquiring why the treatment you are receiving is not delivering the results you wish to achieve. Maybe it is your treatment option that needs to be changed.
Robert Ferris, MD and Stephanie Pitts, NP specialize in addressing your health concerns with a focus on optimizing your wellness through hormone replacement and supplement usage. If you are interested in learning more about how to stay well and optimize your health, come see us at Genesis Wellness. We can help you understand how you can help yourself live better!
Categories: A Word on Wellness