Hair Loss, Weight Gain, Brain Fog? You Might Have Thyroid Disease
by Anne Akers, Health & Wellness Editor
Hair Loss? Unable to Lose Weight? Brain Fog? Sound familiar? These are just a few of the 200 symptoms that may be an indicator of thyroid disease. And did you know that thyroid disease and menopause go together like “peanut butter and jelly?” In many cases, thyroid function decreases as menopause begins and in the menopausal years the unpleasant, if not debilitating, symptoms occur. With 35% of women dealing with thyroid problems, and many more undiagnosed cases, what are the common symptoms and best methods of diagnosis and treatment? I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Hugh Melnick, a top endocrinologist who specializes in thyroid disease. (Dr. Melnick was also a guest on The Three Tomatoes Happy Hour, and you can listen to that interview here.)
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a common type of hormone deficiency. It occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the proper types of thyroid hormone. If the body does not have enough thyroid hormones, its cells cannot function properly and the patient’s health and overall quality of life can be affected.
Dr. Hugh Melnick has been treating patients with hypothyroidism for over 40 years. He believes that the most important part of treating hypothyroidism is listening to his patients. A blood test can show that a patient’s thyroid hormone levels are in a “normal” range, but a patient may still have hallmark symptoms of hypothyroidism. In many ways, Dr. Melnick believes the patient’s symptoms are more important than the results of the blood test. He takes the time to learn about all of the patient’s symptoms so that he can recommend the right treatment.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can cause a wide variety of symptoms. While every patient is different, symptoms of hypothyroidism may include the following:
- Confusion or feeling mentally “foggy”
- Hoarse voice
- Fatigue or decreased stamina
- Cold extremities
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Slow speech
- Hair loss
- Premature graying of the hair
- Low body temperature
- Cracked heels and dry feet
- High cholesterol
- Ringing of the ears
- Anxiety and/or palpitations
- Slow pulse
- Decreased tendon reflexes
- Droopy eyelids
- Puffy and swollen face
- Sparse, coarse, and dry hair
- Coarse, dry, and thickened skin
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hand tingling or pain
- Muscle cramps
- Orange-colored soles and palms
- Sides of eyebrows thin or fall out
- Increased menstrual flow in women
- Infertility and miscarriages
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be beneficial to be evaluated by a specialist like Dr. Melnick.
Evaluating and Diagnosing Hypothyroidism
Although Dr. Melnick believes that symptoms are the key to diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism, there are cases when blood tests may be needed. He does not believe that TSH levels in blood are a reliable indicator of hypothyroidism, as many people with normal TSH levels actually do have low thyroid function. The thyroid tests that Dr. Melnick orders are comprehensive and give vital information about the origin of the patient’s hypothyroidism as well as the best type of medication for treatment.
A thyroid sonogram may also be recommended as a diagnostic test for hypothyroidism. In many cases of hypothyroidism, the sonogram shows the thyroid gland to be enlarged or have nodules, both of which are indicators of hypothyroidism and can also help to detect thyroid cancer.
Treating Hypothyroidism with Natural Thyroid Medication
Most doctors prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone medications, such as Synthroid or Levothyroxine, to patients with hypothyroidism. However, 40% of patients do not experience relief from their symptoms with these medications. For this reason, Dr. Melnick prefers to prescribe natural thyroid medication made from the thyroid glands of pigs, which contain the identical thyroid hormones produced by the human thyroid gland.
Dr. Melnick has prescribed natural thyroid medication since he began his practice over 40 years ago. From his clinical observations, as well as his own personal experience taking natural thyroid medication, Dr. Melnick believes the results of treatment with natural thyroid medication are far superior to those seen with the synthetic medication that is commonly used today.
Diagnostic Testing With Telemedicine
Using Dr. Melnick’s clinical approach to hypothyroidism, a telemedicine platform transforms an inperson appointment into a virtual house call. The doctor/patient dialogue is conducted in exactly the same manner as it would be face to face. Using video conferencing, Dr. Melnick speaks to patients indepth about their symptoms and allows patients to be examined as thoroughly as if they were physically present. In addition to a person’s symptoms, there are physical indicators that can be observed during a telemedicine consultation. For instance, premature graying of the hair, vitiligo, white patches of skin that don’t have pigment, and the loss of the outer third of the eyebrow are all reliable skins of hypothyroidism, as well as certain patterns of swelling of the facial features and patterns of hair loss that strongly suggest the presence of thyroid disease.
Benefits Of Telemedicine & How To Make An Appointment
Telemedicine facilitates consultations and followup appointments in a timely and convenient manner as well as making Dr. Melnick’s expertise available to those unable to travel to New York city. Dr. Melnick uses Doctor.com’s telemedicine service for virtual appointments which is a secure HIPAA-compliant service built specifically for telemedicine services.
Appointments may be scheduled through Dr. Melnick’s office at (212)369-7800 or online at https://www.hughmelnickmd.com. You will be provided email intake forms to complete prior to your initial consultations detailing your medical history, current symptoms, past and current treatment, as well as any recent test results. On the day of your appointment, Dr. Melnick will have this information ready to review with you. If any blood tests or other testing is needed prior to or after the telemedicine appointment, Dr. Melnick’s office will email the laboratory requisitions for testing to be done at a local clinical laboratory.
Helping Others Achieve A Better Quality of Life
Dr. Melnick’s approach to patient care is that of an empath, one who truly listens to patients’ symptoms in order to reach the best diagnosis…and his approach to treatment of Hypothyroidism and Menopause is quite different than that of many Endocrinologists who diagnose and treat based on a single blood test, the TSH level, or who ignore the need to discuss natural testosterone or natural estrogen in the treatment of menopausal women.
For Further Info:
Hugh Melnick, MD, FACOG, Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinologist, New York, NY, Recognized as a “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly Medical and US News & World Report’s annual Physician Rankings. Learn more here.