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How To Check Your Thyroid Levels Yourself

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How To Check Your Thyroid Levels Yourself

Increase your energy and end fatigue fast
Eva  Cwynar M.D.
Eva Cwynar M.D. More by this author
Aug 04, 2015 at 10:30 AM

You’re incredibly busy, you take care of your family, you work long hours, and you have a lot of responsibilities. You try to exercise, but you don’t always have time. You’ve been gaining weight lately, but who hasn’t been? Maybe you’re a bit anxious or depressed. Perhaps you’re not sleeping as well as you used to, and maybe your hair is a little thinner than it was just a few months ago. A lot of women add up all these symptoms and come up with . . . nothing. It’s just life; it’s just getting older. 

But maybe, just maybe, it’s more than that. Maybe it’s your thyroid. In fact, one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. And by the time they reach age 60, more than 20 percent of American women will have a thyroid disorder. I personally believe the numbers may be even higher because so many women haven’t been officially diagnosed. 

                                                                                          

The simplest way to describe your thyroid and its function is to compare it to a furnace that is run by a thermostat (the pituitary gland). Together, they regulate how much energy and stamina you have on a daily basis. The amount of thyroid hormone you have affects how well you sleep, how you feel when you get up in the morning, and how effectively you make it through your day. 

Thyroid function affects every cell in the body. It is the main regulator of basal metabolism, which is the amount of energy needed to maintain essential physiologic functions when you are at complete rest, both physically and mentally. If your thyroid gland is not producing optimally, your cells cannot properly take in the nutrients they need, receive the right amount of oxygen, or get rid of waste materials efficiently. Thyroid hormones also affect your heart, muscles, bones, and cholesterol, to name just several of its jobs. 

Here are 4 ways to improve and check your thyroid levels yourself:

1.    Taking Matters into Your Own Hands—or Armpits. If you suspect you’re having thyroid problems and you want to check yourself out at home, there is a simple test you can do called the basal temperature test. Here are the steps:
•    Get a basal thermometer (the kind you can use under your tongue). Leave it overnight on your bedside table. 
•    First thing in the morning, before you get out of bed, tuck the thermometer under your armpit and lay completely still for 10 minutes. Set a timer before you begin so that you don’t have to move around to look at the clock.
•    Record your temperature for three to five days. If your temperature is consistently below 97.8ºF, you may have a thyroid problem, and you should have yourself evaluated by a health professional.

2.    Iodine: The Home Test. There is a simple and inexpensive way you can test yourself for iodine deficiency: 
•    Dip a cotton ball into USP Tincture of Iodine. (Use the orange-tinted kind, not the clear version. You can get iodine at the drugstore. If you can’t find it, ask the pharmacist.) 
•    Paint a 2- to 3-inch circle of iodine on your abdomen, the inner part of your thigh, or your upper arm. 
•    You will see a yellow-orange stain on your skin. If the stain takes four to six hours to disappear, your iodine level is fine. If it disappears within one to three hours, you may be iodine deficient. If that is the case, the next step is to ask your health-care provider for the more accurate, 24-hour iodine/iodide loading test. 

3.    Try Yoga. There are several alternative treatments that, used in conjunction with doctor-recommended medications, are helpful to people with thyroid problems. Many people find that yoga can stimulate the thyroid gland to work at its peak efficiency. One specific pose that is thought to be of great benefit to the thyroid is known as a shoulder stand, or sarvangasana. To perform a yoga shoulder stand, lie flat on your back, keep your legs together, and raise your legs until they are at a right angle to your shoulders/ neck, perpendicular to the floor. Tuck your chin into your chest, and rest the weight of your body on your shoulders and elbows, using your arms to support your hips. Try to practice until you can do a shoulder stand for a full two minutes. 

4.    Try acupuncture. Acupuncture has a wide range of benefits. The World Health Organization lists over 40 diseases that acupuncture can treat effectively, and thyroid disfunction is on the list. Acupuncture is often used to help stimulate the immune system, which makes it a good choice for treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder. Acupuncture can also be useful for treating symptoms of hypothyroid, even if the condition itself is not addressed in the treatment. For instance, acupuncture is noted for increasing energy and decreasing stress, both of which are helpful for people with hypothyroidism. It can also help with some of the menstrual irregularities that sometimes come with hypothyroidism. Although this may be your preferential treatment, you should still consult with your medical doctor routinely to make sure that your hormones are responding appropriately. Remember, thyroid disease is not just about fatigue, it can ultimately affect your morbidity as well as your mortality. Take control, but do it with the assistance of an expert. To learn more, see my book, The Fatigue Solution

About Author
Eva  Cwynar M.D.
Eva Cwynar, M.D., is a practicingEndocrinologist, Metabolic Medicine Specialist, and Internist in Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Cwynar provides medical care that includes state-of-the-art testing for fatigue, metabolism, weight loss, and antiaging. Her clie Continue reading