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Everyone has episodes of bloating, fatigue, joint pains, trouble sleeping, headaches, or other common issues. Sometimes it’s as simple as eating healthier, exercising more regularly, and taking a good multivitamin to get rid of it. But when that nagging issue seems like it just won’t go away, it may be time to do some detective work to get to the bottom of your issues.
It’s so much better for your health to catch a minor problem and fix it, than it is to let it spin out of control and become a lifelong, chronic disease. If your conventional doctor has done all the basic tests and come up without an explanation for your symptoms, then these 5 types of medical tests may help you get to the bottom of what’s troubling you.
If you have been under stress for any length of time, whether it’s physical stress from strenuous work or illness, or emotional stress from life issues, your adrenal glands are working overtime to compensate. They can only keep this up for so long before they start to get tired. If you are experiencing low energy, low moods, low sex drive, brain fog, belly fat increase, trouble sleeping, or trouble with blood sugar highs or lows, you may be heading into Adrenal Fatigue.
Your stress hormones have a normal rhythm to them, with highs and lows cycling throughout the day. An Adrenal Stress Panel (discontinued) that calls for saliva samples at 4 points throughout the 24-hour cycle is needed to accurately measure your stress hormone levels and determine where the dysfunction is. Some people with adrenal fatigue have their stress hormones go high when they should go low and vice versa, which causes daytime sleepiness and trouble sleeping at night. Others are low all the time, which is a sure sign your adrenals need rest and repair.
If you are experiencing low energy, low moods, constipation, heavy menstrual periods, hair loss, or weight gain, it’s time to take a good look at your thyroid. Every cell in your body “listens” to your thyroid to determine its metabolism, so a sluggish metabolism is a sure sign of a tired thyroid.
But, most conventional medical doctors only run blood tests for TSH and maybe T4, which doesn’t give you a clear picture of what’s going on with your thyroid. At a minimum, a thyroid panel should include TSH, free T4, free T3, and thyroid antibodies to get a better picture of what’s going on with your thyroid and rule out any autoimmune thyroid issues.
If you have an experienced functional medicine practitioner who will interpret your lab results, then adding T3 uptake, total T3, and reverse T3 blood tests will give them a clearer picture of the health of your thyroid. These practitioners also have a more narrow range in values for what constitutes healthy thyroid function, so they typically catch a problem brewing much earlier than a conventional doctor will, which can explain why you’re experiencing thyroid symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed with a thyroid disease. For instance, the higher the TSH is, the lower your actual thyroid function may be, so a more optimal upper threshold is usually around 3.0, depending on the lab’s reference range. As a general rule, free T3 and free T4 should be in the upper two-thirds of the normal range for optimal health.
These tests are typically ordered by a doctor and are usually covered by insurance, but in some states these tests can be ordered on your own and paid for out-of-pocket.
Estrogen dominance in women and low testosterone in men are just about epidemic these days and are risk factors for more serious diseases. If you are experiencing low energy, low moods, low sex drive, thinning hair, trouble sleeping, loss in muscle tone, weight gain, or menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, then your hormones may be to blame.
Saliva hormone testing is considered more sensitive than blood testing for measuring your levels, and can both help you establish a baseline and determine problems in your hormone balance. A good panel also includes a morning cortisol (stress hormone) level, which gives you a good idea of whether stress is a factor in your hormone imbalances.
Your ability to digest food and break it down into absorbable nutrients is absolutely essential for your overall good health. Even Hippocrates knew “all disease begins in the gut” and changes in digestion can mean more serious health issues down the road if ignored. Intestinal inflammation can come from a poor diet, stress, Candida yeast, parasites and more, and a little inflammation is enough to cause malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies.
Choose your GI testing carefully. A good GI Panel includes multiple saliva and stool samples, testing for health from the beginning of the digestive system to the end. It should include immune and inflammation markers, common food allergens, pancreatic enzyme levels, occult blood, and common infections like H. pylori, Candida, and parasites.
Minerals are the essential nutrients that get the least amount of attention but can pack the most punch for your health. Deficiencies in essential minerals like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium can all start out as fatigue, but if left unchecked can lead to serious heart and kidney issues. Heavy metals are in our air, water, food, and dental work, and chronic exposure can lead to serious illnesses that start with fatigue and memory loss and progress into heart disease and more. Mercury exposure alone triples your heart attack risk, and all it takes is a simple hair test to find it.
This non-invasive mineral analysis (HTMA or TMA test) provides you with a comprehensive overview of which essential minerals are deficient and which toxic heavy metals are present in your body – but it doesn’t stop there. A complete 20-page report details the patterns of disease commonly found based upon your mineral levels and ratios, gives you a list of possible environmental and dietary sources of your heavy metals, and gives you a customized diet and supplementation plan for your current metabolic type designed to get your body back in balance.