Why are thyroid conditions often undiagnosed?

Natasha Turner, ND
Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Thyroid conditions are often misdiagnosed because there is a wide range of what's considered "normal" with regard to thyroid hormone in the blood. Watch naturopathic doctor Natasha Turner, ND, explain why thyroid issues can easily go undiagnosed.
A recent study known as the Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study, found that 13 million Americans may have undiagnosed thyroid conditions, and suggested that more widespread thyroid testing is needed. Among their findings are the fact that 9.9 percent of the population had a thyroid abnormality that had gone unrecognized. An underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism, affects more women than men, and the risk increases with age for both men and women. Clearly, there is a need for more widespread thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) testing and more aggressive treatment, especially for subclinical patients. Additionally, another study, called the NHANES study, showed that the reference ranges (for TSH) in most laboratories are too wide. Furthermore, relying on the TSH (being in the normal range) as the only way to define hypothyroidism may mean that still more millions are hypothyroid, but undiagnosed and overlooked.

Continue Learning about Thyroid


A member of our endocrine system, the thyroid gland produces hormones that help control many of our body functions, such as weight and temperature.Located at the base of our neck, this butterfly-shaped gland makes several hormones...

, which are collectively known as thyroid hormones. These hormones are especially key in the brain development of infants and children. Thyroxine, also known as T4, is the primary hormone secreted by the thyroid gland; this hormone helps control our metabolism, a chemical process that turns our food into energy. A lack of iodine in your food can cause the thyroid to swell, a condition called a goiter. Several other disorders and diseases can affect this gland, including cancer. If you notice swelling in your neck or feel a lump, make sure you see your doctor; this could indicate a problem with this important gland.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.