Keeping track between labs,for your better health
I know many of you have heard this before.. but maybe you're not quite sure how to do it or what it all means....
When you are curious about how your body is reacting to your meds, if your metabolic rate is going up, or down, or holding the same....
If you think you may have a thyroid condition, or a family member or friend and you would like to do a bit of checking at home just to see if you have a need to go in to demand proper testing....
If you are self medicating because your doc refuses to prescribe meds of the correct type or in the correct dosage....
If you are self medicating because you have no insurance and/or insufficient finances to see a doc and get labs...
Three very simple things that you can do at home
It's a good idea to start a chart and track the daily measurements, it makes it easier to see.
First: body temp. Your body temp is a very accurate reading of your metabolic rate. If taken correctly. By checking your BASAL body temperature. Your basal temp is the temp that your body is able to maintain all by itself using the metabolic level/rate that your body has. It's not the body temp that you have when you've been up and moving around and active, that temperature reflects the heat that your muscles put out during activity. Not sure about that? When exercising or working you feel warm and perspire... you go sit or lay down to cool off.... stopping muscle movement stops the manufacture of additional body heat....
Basal body temps are best taken first thing in the morning, before you even sit up in bed.
Have your thermometer ready at your bed side so that when you wake you can simply reach for it and place it.
There is some controversy over how/where it is best to take the temp. By far the best method is a mercury thermometer under the tongue, the least accurate is a fever thermometer in the ear. Fever thermometers are accurate only to check for elevated temps, a fever, they are not accurate in monitoring slight changes of temp to the fraction of a degree - which is necessary to accurately monitor changes in your metabolism.
Which ever method you choose take it consistently each time so that you will be able to see a pattern of change.
A low body temp... towards 97 or less.. is a sign of low metabolic rate.... up above 98.2 to 98.6 is pretty good... over that and you may be running a fever.. time to check out what is up with your body.
Second: Respiration. Your breathing rate. You can also take this in the morning, if you wish.. or anytime during that day, just make sure that you've been sitting quietly for about 15 to 20 minutes.
A normal adult takes about 20 breaths a minute while at rest... a hypo person's breathing can drop as low as 10... Low breath rates like that can be a sign of low metabolic rate.
Third: Pulse. Again, you may take this in the morning, or anytime during the day, provided that you've been sitting quietly for 15 to 20 minutes. An average person's heart beats 70 to 72 beats per minute. An athlete in tip top condition can have a heart rate lower than that, and a person with a very weak or disease heart can also have a rate that is higher or lower than 'average'. The key here is to see where yours falls.
If your heart rate significantly under 'normal' and you're not a prime athlete doing marathons every year, having a heart rate below 70 could very well be a sign that you have a low metabolic rate...
Metabolic rate as an indicator
Low metabolic rate is one strong symptom of hypothyroidism.. it's what makes it so hard for us to do everyday tasks, makes us sleepy, makes us gain weight, and many of the other symptoms that so many of us have. High metabolic rate is one of the strong indicators of hyperthyroidism. It's also a fairly easy thing to monitor on your own, at home.. without having to run in to the doc for labs all the time. No.. don't go running around claiming that you can do EVERYTHING at home and will never need labs to verify.. that's just not true... these suggestions are things that you can do at home to monitor yourself from day to day, to let you know if things are off and it's necessary to adjust doses or if other things are at issue... then it's up to you decide if you will need to see a doc and/or have labs run to be sure of what is going on.
Yes. Monitoring symptoms is VERY important in the care of thyroid disease and adjusting meds, tracking metabolic rate is part of that.
A bit about my self monitoring (ThyroGeek)
I don't always check my temp. Only when I'm actually adjusting meds. But the pulse and respiration I spot check several times a week, just to see if I'm in target range. Before I went back on meds (I'd been without for three years when I lost my job and insurance and then next job didn't offer it) my basals when waaayyyy down. I have no thyroid, mine was killed off by RAI... so having no meds was a bad thing for me. My body temp dropped below 97, my heart rate was a weak 50 and my respiration was 10 and voluntary. What I mean by voluntary is that it got to the point where I could stop breathing and just sit there for three minutes or so. No, I didn't hold my breath... I would just inhale normally, then just not exhale, just sit there. Scary stuff.
Now.. after nearly two years on Natural meds on my own, medicating and adjusting by symptoms.. I have a resting heart rate of about 72, respiration of 20 and my body temp is usually a nice and comfy 98.4...
Use of Metabolic Monitoring results
As you go on meds or increase meds. You should be able to see these three numbers slowly increase... by slowly I mean over several weeks to a month... things like this simply just don't happen over night for everyone. Remember it takes 4 to 6 weeks for the T4 that you took this morning to even effect what your body tissues are holding.. that is why you should wait about 6 weeks after making an adjustment to get your labs taken, to see what is happening in your body. That's also why it's not wise to be increasing dosages too much too quickly... it could be a month before you find out that you've been taking too much.. and being hyper is NOT fun... given the choice between hyper and hypo... I'm gonna say hypo EVERY time. Personally I won't increase a dose at less than 4 week intervals and as I worked up my dosages two years ago I actually had one stretch that went 8 weeks and one that went 12, simply because my body was having a tough time adjusting.....