Should we be aiming for normal or optimal?
I’m sure we have all been to our GP before because we haven’t felt well, had some blood tests and been told ‘everything is normal, there is nothing wrong with you.’ This can be very frustrating and upsetting as the reason you went is because you know you just don’t feel right.
I had chronic fatigue syndrome that was set off by glandular fever in my late teens. I struggled with symptoms like severe fatigue, joint pain, random recurrent vomiting, recurrent infections, liver and spleen enlargement, platelet problems, chronically low iron, hair loss, weight gain……you name it, I probably had it. The worst bit of the whole thing was that a few times that I actually went to the Dr was because I honestly thought ‘I can’t feel this terrible and not be dying.’ I was told that nothing was wrong, ‘you just need to stop being lazy and do some exercise’, ‘you just need to sleep more’, ‘you are obviously lying about what you eat because calories in/calories out’ and ‘you’re in your late 20s and own your own business, you are going to be tired’…….I mean seriously.
The one thing that I found really interesting and frustrating throughout my journey is the ranges in blood tests. This month we are talking all things thyroid health so I’ll go into a bit more detail in a moment.
Blood test normal ranges are actually calculated from an average of everyone who has had a blood test in that particular pathology lab. WHAT??!! Noone has done a study on healthy people to figure out what a normal range is!! I was equally horrified, especially when most people only get bloods done when they are feeling unwell and this is who they are calculating the average off.
It can even be different for different countries – for example a normal B12/Folate range in Australia is >177 however in America it is 200-500 and Japan it is 500-13001. Are Australians really that different to Americans or Japanese people? Or are our ‘normal’ B12 levels too low?
When we look at thyroid labs the normal ranges and optimal ranges are as follows:
|Test||Normal Ranges (pmol)|
(Southern IML pathology)
(converted to pmol) 2
|Free T3||3.1 – 6.8||>4.9|
|Reverse T3||<250 pg/mL||10:1 ratio RT3:FT3|
My main point in this article is to really look into what your blood tests mean or find someone who can. After all, we want to be functioning at our optimal not just ‘within the normal ranges.’ Ask questions and don’t stop looking until you find an answer to why you feel the way you do.
If you have thyroid issues or suspect you do then have a read of Dr Amy Meyers book – The Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain-Fogged, and Overweight — and How to Get Your Life Back
I have since found a wonderful GP who listens and actually takes me seriously. I have also had a couple of awesome naturopaths and chiropractors throughout the years that literally saved me. I’d still be sick and in bed if it wasn’t for them. I haven’t had a CFS flare for over 10 years and would say that I’m in complete recovery.
If you are in a similar situation to what I was, please don’t give up and if you’d like a referral let me know.