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Thyroid Disease in Children

Posted May 27 2012 11:54am
Thyroid Deficiency In Children

 

I have worked with many children with low thyroids during the past years.  However it is my work with two children in particular that motivates me to write this article.

 

For six months my one eleven year old son was complaining about his weight.  This is a kid that plays every sport and eats a great diet.  So the excess weight was confusing to us as parents also.

 

Being a naturopathic doctor for 15 years left me with many tools to try, and I went through all of them.  Finally after a lot of trial and error with only minimum success I put him on thyroid hormones.

 

Both his mom and I have thyroid disease in our families.  She had recently attended a lecture where the doctor discussed the importance of using thyroid hormones in cases where the mother had a history of thyroid disease.

 

The results with the medicine were spectacular.  He lost 15 pounds in six months and returned to a normal body weight.  It improved his health, his sports performance and his energy in general.

 

The other patient was my 13 year old son.  He had been constantly complaining of fatigue for over a year.  This is just something that we ignorantly connected with the fatigue of growing.  He is tall and lean so that last thing that we were thinking about was thyroid problems.

 

After spending some time with him and his friends it became clear that he was not just tired but he was severely fatigued.  So we went on to put him on a small amount of thyroid also.  The results with him were spectacular also.  It is the first time in over a year our conversations have not began and ended with talking about how tired he is.

 

So I was thinking about you and your kids.  Here both the boys mom and I are physicians and I did not even address the problems in my own kids until a year if not more.  How likely are you to know this is going on with your own kids.

 

More likely is that your hypo-thyroid child just becomes the problem child.  With my older son it was always about getting the homework done and him being tired.  Even the teachers started talk about how he needed to apply himself more.  

 

This is the same child that managed to apply himself so effectively in sports.  However in sports the adrenaline is flowing, and this can more than cover-up a low thyroid.  Let’s face it, most teachers are over worked and they to not have time to understand your child as an individual.

 

Even if the thyroid lab test are normal the thyroid can still be a problem.  Thyroid blood lab tests were developed to screen people that looked healthy for thyroid problems.  They were never meant to prevent people that needed thyroid from receiving the medicine.

 

Medicines should always be prescribed on clinical signs and symptoms.  Doctors know this because the number one drug prescribed for depression is not prescribed on the basis of any lab work at all.  Rather it is prescribed on the clinical assessment of the case.

 

The reason that the thyroid ends up being such a problem is that its main function is to shut down your body in times of stress.  In the past that stress may have been a physical injury that prevented us from gathering food.  So the body would slow our metabolism so that we have time to heal.

 

Now that same stress response can be triggered by a variety of stresses, mental emotional and physical.  The body doesn’t know the difference, it just knows that it is getting the stress signal.  The thyroid then does it’s job and slows down the metabolism.

 

Of course this does not mean that every case is a thyroid case, and a good exam by your doctor should be done to rule out other causes.  There are a several good things that can be done that will help the thyroid work better.  I believe that testing for hidden food allergens is a very big key.  Also testing for the function of your adrenal glands in any case where there is fatigue can also be a big part of correct treatment.

 

In any case these cases should always be treated by a licensed physician.  As a licensed primary care provider myself I have seen where the training and experience is the key to safe, effective treatment.

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