In addition to breaking new ground in our understanding of the relationships between hormones and women's health, Dr. Vliet
is a pioneer in terms of her attitude toward treating thyroid disease. Dr. Vliet does not believe that TSH tests are the almightly
indicator of a woman's thyroid health. In fact, over on the alt.support.thyroid newsgroup, we've thought about taking a refreshing quote from her book --- "We are treating patients, not lab values" -- and putting it on a tee-shirt to wear to appointments with our doctors. "I'm a patient, not a lab value!"
Dr. Vliet says that symptoms, along with elevated thyroid antibodies and normal TSH, may be a reason for treatment with thyroid hormone. Here's Dr. Vliet again.
"The problem I have found is that too often women are told their thyroid is normal without having the complete thyroid tests done. Of course, what most people, and many physicians, don't realize is that...a 'normal range' on a laboratory report is just that: a range. A given person may require higher or lower levels to feel well and to function optimally. I think we must look at the lab results along with the clinical picture described by the patient...I have a series of more
than a hundred patients, all but two are women, who had a normal TSH and turned out to have significantly elevated thyroid antibodies that meant they needed thyroid medication in order to feel normal. This type of oversight is particularly common with a type of thyroid disease called thyroiditis, which is about 25 times more common in females than males...a woman may experience the symptoms of disease months to years before TSH goes up..."
Hip hip hooray, for Dr. Vliet!!!
Mary Shomon, Editor, Thyroid Disease Website and Newsletter, [...]