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Going For The Throat: What Exactly Does Euthyroid Mean, Anyway?

Post Published: 07 April 2010
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Category: Column, Going for the Throat, Health Care Column Thyroid Diseases and Thyroid Cancers
This post currently has 24 responses. Leave a comment

(Written by Robyn Davis Hahn, Editor-In-Chief Health Care, Dear Thyroid. Column: Going For The Throat)

A couple of weeks ago, I reached a milestone during my visit with my endocrinologist.   I was not the 1,000,000th customer, and there were no party hats or confetti.   In fact, there was very little in the way of fanfare.   But at the end of my exam, lab review, and discussion, he wrote something in my chart that was monumental:

EUTHYROID

(Just so we’re all on the same page–the medical definition:,  euthyroid,n: a state of normal thyroid function.)

Here’s a quick review of my thyroid history.   Basically, I’d been feeling run down, gained some weight, my skin and hair looked dry and aged–you know,  normal–for years.   But then my thyroid decided to really jump into the crapper and I got compressive throat symptoms and extreme lethargy alternating with heart palpitations and increased heart rates for weeks, prompting me to see doctor(s) and gain a Hashimoto’s diagnosis almost a year ago.

Like most of you, that’s when the work really began.   I joined Dear Thyroid, I Googled and PubMed-ed, I renewed my interest in overall healthy living, and I started on Levoxyl.   Encouraged by Liz Schau, my diet radically changed to gluten free.   I began taking all manner of supplements to decrease inflammation and promote thyroid function.   And I went to see my endocrinologist,  every 6 weeks.   Lather.   Rinse.   Repeat.

And because I’ve learned that with most things in life “it’s always everything” I kept finding things to change or improve that could positively impact my thyroid and my health in general (still do).   All my non-stick pans have been replaced with cast iron, now becoming well seasoned and slick, with no chemical intervention.   I switched my toothpaste to a non-fluoride variety.   I replaced my cleaning supplies with naturally derived products.

Slowly, I have been improving.   About a month ago my energy made an upswing, along with my motivation.   My athletic stamina improved and my muscle tone noticeably increased.   I’ve been more content and happy.

Ten months ago, I had just detectable anti-TPO antibodies.   Ten months ago, my TSH was almost 5.0.   Ten months ago, I felt like I swallowed half a walnut and lodged it in my throat.

Two months ago, I had spiked very high anti-TPO antibodies.   Two months ago, my TSH was 2.5.   Two months ago, I felt like I swallowed a pistachio and lodged it in my throat.

Two weeks ago, I had ZERO anti-TPO antibodies.   Two weeks ago, my TSH was 0.5.   Two weeks ago, my throat felt clear.

But despite my improvement, significant as it is, I don’t feel, for lack of a better word, healed.   I feel better, but not,  better.   Some of my symptoms have not changed at all–my skin is still dry and stiff, my body temperature still rarely crests 97 degrees, and my hands and wrists still ache.

So what DOES euthyroid mean?,   Clearly, it doesn’t mean feeling normal even if my thyroid is “functioning normally”.   How do we ever know if we are, indeed, better?,   Are my remaining symptoms related to my thyroid (as many argue) because it’s not all about the numbers?,   Or should I be happy that I feel like I’m running at about 90%?,   Surely the remaining 10% could be attributed to,  something else, including age-related wear and tear.

I consider myself lucky.   I have been feeling great, and while I know that this feeling may not last, I’m gonna bask in its glory right now.   But it’s not all luck, it’s been work too.   I will continue to strive for healthier living and eating, because it’s the right thing to do–for me, for the Earth, and great modeling to set my daughter up for a healthier life.   I will continue to strive for a positive attitude and focus on what feels good instead of dwelling on what’s not right.   My challenge for you this week is to focus on the good in YOUR life and YOUR thyroid (or your scar)–as we all aim to reach for the EUTHYROID brass ring.

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24 Responses to “Going For The Throat: What Exactly Does Euthyroid Mean, Anyway?”

  1. Liz says:

    Like. As in, I would “like” this post if we had that option, as we do on Facebook. 🙂 Glad you’re feeling better, even if it’s not 100%. Any change is a good change…

  2. Jenn says:

    Robyn –
    I’ve never heard of “euthyroid” before. That word should be in my vocabulary as it is the ultimate goal of my life these days. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations on being 90%.
    It’s sad that we would be happy with 90%, but I’d take it in a heartbeat!
    Best of luck to you on your continued road to recovery!
    Jenn

  3. Hypogirl says:

    Robyn,
    I am happy for you. Let me know next time and I will bring a truckload of Confetti. We deserve a parade when that happens! I know some of your symptoms haven’t improved – but 90% of them have. This is exciting news! I have been feeling the same way after starting my Time-Release Armour. It has made a world of difference! But same as you the crocodile skin has remained. I have noticed though with extra water intake that lessens as well.

    Now – if I could do what you did and modify my diet I would feel awesome! I will do it – – someday…. 🙂

    *walks out throwing confetti*

  4. Dear Thyroid says:

    Congratulations, Robyn! I love this article. You’re right, euthyroid doesn’t mean that we feel normal. The fact that you’re going at 90% is a big deal considering where you came from.

    Thanks to Liz, my diet has radically changed. I’ve done a lot of research on supplements, etc. One day, I hope to feel 90% better. Knowing that it’s possible. Hearing thyroid success stories makes me feel like it is — so, thank you.

    PS: The muscle tone is back — WOWSERS.

    HUGE SCREAMING CONGRATULATIONS.

    xo

  5. Em says:

    Robyn,

    I’d never heard of Euthyroid (not even sure how to pronounce it!). But now I have a goal to shoot for. And lots of thoughts to mull over and research.

    Congratulations on reaching “normal.” (Is there such things as normal for any of us?)

    Thank you for your post!

  6. Kaytee says:

    Obviously, “euthyroid” means different things to the medical community, than it does to “thyroid patients”.

    To me– it means not having noticeable signs/sx associated with hypo- or hyper-thyroidism. To most drs, it means “lab results are in normal range”, whatever that happens to be that week, on basic screening tests (and they don’t bother doing any except the basics because those are “in normal range”).

  7. Christine says:

    Okay – I actually stood up in my office, in the office, and clapped – I did!! I’d have blown those horns and thrown confetti if I had it…. FAN-FABULOUS-TASTIC!!!

    I loved what you said here: “But it’s not all luck, it’s been work too. I will continue to strive for healthier living and eating, because it’s the right thing to do—for me, for the Earth, and great modeling to set my daughter up for a healthier life. I will continue to strive for a positive attitude and focus on what feels good instead of dwelling on what’s not right. My challenge for you this week is to focus on the good in YOUR life and YOUR thyroid (or your scar)—as we all aim to reach for the EUTHYROID brass ring.”

    AMEN & AMEN FOREVER AND EVER AMEN!! Okay, so to meet the challenge you have offered to us… time to change that record/recording that keeps playing in our heads, time to change the tune… dance to the new beat.. throw our hands in the air and act like we just don’t care. Smile large, laugh hard embrace what is good and wonderful in our lives.
    I’m on it! In fact, as I finish out the day, going to play some upbeat music, get my toes to tappin (under my desk) head a boppin, smile upon my face – it’s all about the good and the positive!!

    Let’s do this! 🙂

  8. That sounds like me after every follow up with ny primary care physican every 6 months. I love the article. Thank you

  9. Viiu says:

    i wonder what did you do to get PTO antibodies to disappear, that would be great help for me. I take selenium and zinc along other supplements but i haven’t done yet new bloodtest to find out how it has been working for me because my doctor is another “if i don’t profit from you then i don’t care”type. I do too get some symptoms every now and then. I was hyper to begin with though, then remission then thought to be moving toward hypo but hormones were in normal range. Been working on diet and taking supplements for a long time. Some days i get hyper symptoms still( especially with eye and heart), some days it feels like hypo. My biggest worry after reaching remission has been PTO antibodies because they have been climbing up 300 counts a year, last one was 900 something…..also had miscarriage which i contribute at least partially to my autoimmunity issues and thyroid troubles. No doctor has wanted to give me any answers or to work towards any answers, even cytogenetics they did on my loss apparently didn’t give any answers though gyno was very surprised but i guess now it is too late….sucks

  10. Jennifer says:

    Hi Robyn,

    I love the article!! Some days I feel better other days I get the aches and tiredness but I keep going on. My endo says everything is normal so she will not put me on any hormone replacement but knows for sure I have Hashimotos and my antibody levels are over 1000! I am just in the process of doing my research and changing my diet in hopes a feeling BETTER 🙂

  11. Lolly says:

    Kaytee,
    You got it spot on, to the medical profession Euthyroid means levels within the ranges and holding steady antibodies lower.

    Euthryoid means something different to those still feeling symptomatic, could be TPO, TSI or TRab is still above range or that you just haven’t hit the right place for you regarding thyroid status meaning your sweet spot within the ranges.

    Robyn so pleased for you, I hope it continues to improve for you, were you feel as near to how you did before getting hashi’s.
    I wonder if anyone can say they feel better now, than they did before getting this disease or any thyroid disease I feel we will always have associated symptoms some worse than others as our thyroid levels fluctuate or move about.

    It’s great to hear success stories but don’t be fooled by the little bugger in your neck it has a way of hitting you back when you least expect it but I know your gonna be prepared for it, if it ever does.

    Lolly

  12. Lolly says:

    EM..

    Euthyroid pronouse (you thyroid) FO

  13. Lolly says:

    Ps sp Pronounced (YOU-THYROID) take a run and jump off a short peer.

  14. Robyn says:

    Whew. Goodness. Thanks all for the well wishes and comments.

    Liz–I owe a HUGE debt to you. I already ate pretty well, “Omnivores Dilemma” and all that, but you inspired and helped me go gluten free, which was a huge deal.

    Jenn–Exactly, I’ll take it too. 90% is, afterall, an A-!

    HypoG–I’m telling you girl, you CAN do the GF. It sucks sometimes, when I crave a big ol’ piece of warm, crusty, pillowy bread…mmm…but then I think about what it does to my body and I can shrug it off!

    Katie–Thanks so much. I don’t know if the Grave’s thing is at all like the Hashi thing with reducing inflammation, but I think it’s pretty key.
    And muscles. Yup. I got my arms backI

    Em–“You” “Thyroid”. Ironic, no? It’s a crock, actually (the term). It really does mean normal VALUES, not function. There is actually a scenario called “Euthyroid Sick”–which is an oxymoron that means you have an illness that “masks” thyroid dysfunction by making your values normal, even when you actually do have a thyroid abnormality. Crazy!

    Kaytee–Exactly, as I said above. Smart cookie!

    Christine–WOO WOO! So, I get you–I used to be a very optimistic person. My thyroid disease clouded that–the depression and doldrums–and made me pessimistic. It would be so easy to focus on the 10% that’s NOT RIGHT. Whatever “per cent” we feel good, some days we need to just focus on that, and not the other way around!

    Faith–thankyouverymuch!

    Viiu–In a nutshell, here’s what I did, in order: Levoxyl. Fish Oils (high dose, I am a huge proponent of omega-3s). Vitamin D (5000 IU/day). Pro-biotic. Gluten Free diet (cold turkey). Selenium (200 mcg/day). I purchased Iodoral, and have been researching the pros and cons of taking iodine with Hashis. Docs and “pseudo” docs are pretty adamant that you NEED it or that you MUST NOT take it. I took one pill and could taste iodine all day (uh, blech!), so have not taken more. Will need more research on this!

    Jennifer–That’s a shame. If you have Hashi’s, you should be on replacement, even if just temporarily to help reduce the inflammation and work load on your gland. I think diet changes are key–gluten free has a lot of research supporting it’s involvement with the thyroid even if you aren’t Celiac. There is also an “Inflammation Free” diet if you aren’t ready to jump GF.

    Right now, the major thing kicking my ass is the pollen here in NC, otherwise known as the yellow death. You can literally see huge clouds and swirls of it in the air, and it covers anything that sits still for 10 minutes with a thick dust. I can only imagine what the inside of my lungs looks like right now. We need some rain to wash some of it away!

  15. Robyn says:

    Hey Lolly–You snuck in while I was posting. I absolutely know that I can’t let my guard down, and that my sneaky bastard of a gland could become inflamed and go nutso in a heartbeat (or is that a palpitation?). That’s why I’m livin’ for today!

  16. HD inOregon says:

    You’ll keep Euthyroid and I’ll keep Mythyroid, or I’ll punch’a your nothroid.
    🙂

    Great article Robyn! I am glad you’re feeling great!

    HD

  17. Congratulations on feeling better, Robyn. I can identify with having “perfect” thyroid values and still not feeling up to par. I can also identify with having another disease that deceptively makes thyroid levels appear more balanced than they are. Because I have PCOS, my excess testosterone causes my TSH to look lower than it actually is. The other problem I have realised that goes with thyroid disease is that it causes so many other fuck-ups. It ravages your whole body, so that often a “simple thyroid pill” is not the only solution. Right now I have to take a whole arsenal of pills and quite frankly (and quite literally) I’ve rather sick of it. One of the new pills my gynaecologist has put me on causes extreme fatigue. I know that I am on it for a reason and that it won’t be forever, but it frustrates me no end because I was feeling so much better once the doctor got rid of my Epstein-Barr virus and now my body has to deal with taking new drugs with nasty side effects that include gastrointestinal distress and extreme fatigue. I have tried to remedy the daytime fatigue by taking the one fatigue-inducing drug in the evenings and it does seem to help somewhat, but I hate taking so many drugs. Again, I am taking them to stabilise things that my bastard thyroid has well and truly fucked up. The sad thing is that my thyroid couldn’t be more balanced right now. My antibodies have been negative for a while and my TSH is 0.3! My FT3 and FT4 are nice and high, but the whole process of feeling at par or even above par is a long and frustrating one at times. When I feel like that, I try and remind myself that I have already come so far, but it does get me down. I am 32, I look like someone in my 20s and yet some days I feel like an old woman.

  18. Lolly says:

    Robyn, me snuck in no never I am Loud and proud and as fucked off with everything as anyone else. I remember my first endo saying to me as I walked out his door for the last time “You are cured” I just laughed in his face and slammed the door behind me stupid fucker.

    I hope I don’t have to do the same with the new one.
    I’m sick of doctors and endos saying well your levels are in range Your TSH looks good makes my blood boil ( well hey reality check, I don’t feel fucking good so therefore they are not where I want them to be and that is up in the upper third of the ranges and were not talking about TSH either that can be surpressed and you can still be euthyroid..too many TSH worshippers in some of these docs.

    I was Euthyroid once just before I had my Thyroid removed and wasn’t doing too bad at all, had high hopes of remission only too swap it for the one lovely little pill or should i say high doses of it that do fuck all just have me up and down on a helter skelter.

    Having a GD moment.:-)

    Lolly

  19. Christine says:

    Robyn:

    I’ve made a choice, a choice I make every day, to find the sunshine, the upside of whatever is current in my life. After having spent far too long in the bowels of health hell, depression, and all out fatigue from fighting my thyroid and all it brought to the table of my life, and in many ways, took away from my life…
    When there is reason to celebrate – I CELEBRATE! When someone I see is in need of a smile, courage, cheerleading, support I can’t ignore it, I can’t turn away, for I remember all too well, having endured this journey alone for the better part of 20 years.
    Oh how I’ve raged against my thyroid, my doctors, my cancer(s), my life and what it had become. NOW, while I still have those moments (more privately), I choose to be better – be better in whatever ways I can, when I can.

    There are moments of tears and despair still – not as often as before for what has been lost in my life and in my world that I cannot get back. The things that happened to my family, my children, while I was so sick. For more personal issues that only complicated my sickness and depression.

    So, when moments are good, or better than they’ve been – I raise up and sing! I dance! I shout to the heavens! 🙂 And I hope, hope, hope that it continues and never again threaten to do me in.

    Moments, moments make a life – and it’s life that we are fighting to get back – right? 🙂 May we ALL have more “moments”.

  20. Robyn says:

    HD–you crack me up. Reminds me of something a Jack Black character said in some movie: “Whose lemonade is this? It’s not mi-une, it must be urine.”

    Sarah–There are “other” things I have that I do know about (ie, “hay fever”, mild scleroderma, etc.), and funny, they are all immune related. But as my previous post talked about, my main fear is not knowing what I don’t know (and therefore can’t “fix”)!

    Lolly–My endo for sure didn’t pronounce me cured. He just increased my testing interval from 6 weeks to 3 months, LOL! He is definitely on the “conventional” side of the fence, but also treats to symptoms, not the absolute number (or my TSH of 0.5 would have resulted in a decreased Levoxyl dose). Within reason, he’d be open to other options, and we’d discussed Cytomel and Armour if I needed it. Since (at least for now), I’ve been feeling pretty darn good, there is no reason to do more. Should things change, I know we’ll be able to have some discussion about it.

    Christine–And, attitude FOR SURE affects health. Focusing on the positive is making you healthier, so keep it up!

  21. Robyn, you seem to have misunderstood or misread my last post. I am not talking about the things I don’t know about. I am talking about the things that I (and many others) am having to deal with in addition to thyroid disease – things that are actually triggered by thyroid disease. Perhaps there are those lucky few out that who once they get their thyroid to the “right” level, they start feeling better, but when you have several medical conditions that are all thyroid-related it can get overwhelming to say the least. For me it’s about balancing several conditions simultaneously and only once I manage this can I even hope to feel better irrespective of the fact that my thyroid levels are already looking good. That was the point I was trying to make in my first post.

  22. Robyn says:

    Sarah,
    No I got you, loud and clear. I meant *I* don’t know if I have an underlying virus, or adrenal issues, or such. I do know I have several immune related things, how much they all impact each other is debatable. Since the thyroid would appear to be the “heart” of the endocrine system, I would say that all of us, regardless of the number of diagnoses we carry, have a balancing act as a result.
    And, it’s chicken or egg, too. Does PCOS or EB cause Hashimoto’s, or is the the converse? Or is all of it caused my a general endocrine disruption caused by something else entirely?

  23. Thanks for clarifying, Robyn. You are right – it can be a chicken and egg situation. Epstein-Barr, from what I have read, can indeed trigger Hashimoto’s, as can any severe virus. On the other hand, the weakened immune system that goes hand in hand with Hashimoto’s can also cause Epstein-Barr. According to my doctor, EBV is really quite common, which I suppose is why he tests for it in the first place.

    As for PCOS, I can tell you – as I mentioned in my article on this – that there is definitely a connection. My doctor claims that most of the Hashimoto’s patients he has treated have had it in some way and it doesn’t even always show itself with the common symptoms (mine certainly doesn’t). My doctor theorises that my Hashimoto’s came first, which then caused problems with my blood sugars (which are slightly too high), which then caused the PCOS to develop.

    Either way, it is without a doubt that the entire endocrine system is interlinked, so if one balance is off, this may very well trigger other imbalances, which is why so many thyroid patients suffer from things like infertility, endometriosis, oestrogen dominance, heavy/irregular periods – the list goes on and this is something I’d like to write about when I have more energy and time to do the proper research. What particularly interests me is the hormonal imbalances that men can suffer and I’d like to read up more on this, too – there is so very little talked about this and about men with thyroid disease in general, although – as we know – they are out there, some of them are our own dear Thyfellas and one of them is my fiancé.

    At the end of the day, my Hashimoto’s runs in the family, so that is probably the main cause, but if you have an extra virus such as EBV, that’s very bad luck as it’s a double whammy and takes longer to get well (all I can say is Isoprinosine – an antiviral drug that is available here and sadly not so easy to get in the US). The same goes for any other hormonal imbalances such as PCOS – if you have them, it often takes longer for your thyroid to get balanced and for you to feel well.

    I try to be positive most of the time and I know that I am not alone, but it is frustrating (for anyone) to get rid of one thing only to have to battle another, particularly as sometimes the meds they prescribe you make you feel even worse. It doesn’t bother me in the least having to take a pill for the rest of my life if it makes me feel better, but I’ve just not reached that stage yet. When you are taking a whole host of pills everyday, I think it is fair to say that everybody gets frustrated when they are still not feeling as good as they would like to. I have always been a perfectionist and put pressure on myself to perform (which is known to make people ill and I suspect the whole stress of freelancing and living as an expat in a country that has never felt like home may have contributed to me getting sick in the first place. People need support networks and I have not always had that here).

  24. Robin may i know which diet u are taking.can you explain about it?

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