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QUESTION

I have a feeling that I may have a thyroid problem. I'm having a variety of symptoms like fatigue, weight gain and hair loss, my mother and sister both have a thyroid problem. I'm female, 30, and haven't had any children yet. When I went to my doctor, he said that I was too young to have a thyroid problem, and felt around my neck, said I didn't have a goiter, and so as far as he could tell, my thyroid was fine. I pushed him to do a test, but he said "I'm the doctor here," and got huffy. What do you think my next steps should be? -- Erica

DR. MARIE SAVARD ANSWERS

You are right to be concerned about the possibility of a thyroid problem with your history. Thyroid problems are common at almost any age. First trust your instincts; you are the best expert on YOU. Do as much research as you can ahead of time. It sounds like you already know a lot about the condition.

Prepare for the next doctor visit by finding a friend or family member to go with you. I call that person a "health buddy". Let the office staff know you are coming to discuss your many unexplained symptoms and concerns about your thyroid. List all your questions and concerns, including the blood tests that you want (complete hypothyroid profile for starters). You can download a pre-printed office visit form from my website at www.drsavard.com that will help you. Have your health buddy go in the exam room with you to take notes and give you the courage to speak up. If necessary, tell your doctor that you are very concerned that you may have a problem, you know that the condition runs in families and is common at any age, and that your symptoms are unexplained and may be from an underactive thyroid. Let your doctor know how concerned you are and that without the difinitive blood test, you will not be reassured. When you finally get the blood testing done, remember to ask for an original copy of the report. Give your doctor a self-addressed stamped envelope as a reminder to send it to you. (August, 2002)

(Note: Also, see Mary Shomon's Hypothyroidism Risk Factors and Symptoms Checklist for a helpful tool in getting diagnosed.)
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Marie Savard, M.D. is an internationally known internist and women’s health expert, author and champion for patient rights and responsibilities. She is the founder of The Savard System and author of two highly acclaimed books, How to Save Your Own Life: The Savard System for Managing and Controlling Your Healthcare and The Savard Health Record: a six-step system for managing your health care. For more information from Dr. Savard, read: For more information on Marie Savard's books, The Savard Health Record: A Six Step System for Managing Your Healthcare, and How to Save Your Own Life: Dr. Savard's Nine Steps to Getting the Healthcare You Really Need, see http://www.thyroid-info.com/savard.htm.

Dr. Marie Savard's website is located at www.drsavard.com.

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