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Is your doctor practicing ageism?

Have you been told your thyroid is a little low, but that it’s OK because you are “old” and that’s what happens to old people?

Well, a low temperature may not affect your life expectancy but it can have a huge impact on your quality of life. The list of symptoms is long, and it includes fatigue, intolerance to cold, dry skin, puffy eyes, muscle cramps, weak muscles, constipation, depression, slow thinking and poor memory. Your doctor may tend to dismiss these symptoms as simply signs of aging, but where does one draw the line? It’s abnormal to have these symptoms when you’re young but it’s normal when you’re old? When does one turn from young to old? 20 years old? 30? 40? 50? 60? Low temperatures can contribute to these symptoms at any age and low temperatures can often be normalized with proper treatment.

Here’s what I suggest. Take your body temperature. (For instructions on how to do this correctly, see “How are body temperatures measured” on our website.) If your body temperature is consistently low—below 98.5 F., or 36.94 C, but typically lower than 97.8 F, or 36.56 C.— there’s a good chance that you have low thyroid hormone function.

Second, get your body temperature back to normal through stress-reduction, healthy nutrition, herbs and exercise, or by taking a course of T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. This is a prescription drug, so you will need medical supervision, and we will be happy to help your doctor learn more about how to use T3 therapy. Alternatively, you can find a health care practitioner familiar with T3 therapy closest to you via our website.

Older people may have a problem converting T4 to T3, and some may do better taking the active form of T3, especially when it comes to cognitive-related thyroid issues.

I believe you don’t have to accept low temperature symptoms just because a few years have passed. There are a lot of things you can do to take charge of your health. So…how old is “old” to you?

Bensenor IM, Olmos RD, Lotufo PA. Hypothyroidism in the elderly: diagnosis and management. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:97-111.

Pollock MA, Sturrock A, Marshall K, et. al. Thyroxine treatment in patients with symptoms of hypothyroidism but thyroid function tests within the reference range: randomised double blind placebo controlled crossover trial. BMJ, 2001;323(7318):891-895.

Resta F Triggiani V, Barile G, Subclinical hypothyroidism and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2012 Sep;12(3):260-7.

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  1. James Renn July 31, 2015 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    What about all the research that correlates decreased body temperature with an extended life span?

    • Dr. Denis Wilson August 2, 2015 at 8:54 am - Reply

      It may be that the low temperature correlates with longevity but does not cause the longevity. It may be that the longer people live, the more chance there is that their temperature will drop. But more to the point, many people with low temperatures have told me that they feel so bad that they would rather be dead. They say they have to do something and they can’t go on feeling the way they do. Normalizing a low temperature often erases those debilitating symptoms. Best.

  2. Devaki Holman August 3, 2015 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    I went to an anti-aging doctor who came highly recommended. I was healthy & energetic, but wanted to have more energy & wanted to optimize my health. He started me on Armour Thyroid some time in 2008 because of (low normal) sub clinical hypothyroidism from a blood spot test. I had more energy, felt great, but after a few weeks I wasn’t feeling the same improvement so my regular doctor suggested I up the dose a little & I felt better, more energetic again. Before long I was getting heart palpitations, weird sensation in my head, thought heart attack or stroke so boyfriend took me to ER. The only thing they found wrong was my TSH showed my thyroid medication was way too much. Since then I have been on too many different thyroid medications & doses to remember and I’ve felt worse each year. An endocrinologist put me on Levothyroxin & I didn’t feel better so I asked her to give me sustained release T3 my pharmacist compounds. She would only do that if I also took the Levothyroxin so I’ve been doing both for several years & feeling worse each year. I started wondering if the thyroid medications could have started this energy downhill slide? I would like to get of thyroid medications entirely if I can. Do you think this is possible? I have never taken my temperature consistently, but I am the one in the room who is hot when everyone else wants a sweater. I developed Raynaud’s syndrome a few years ago. It only comes on when I am in the ocean for over an hour. Other than that nothing to indicate I’m cold. In fact I am usually hot, never wear anything with sleeves. What should I do? Help!

    • Dr. Denis Wilson August 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm - Reply This link explains why T4 isn’t always the best choice for a person with low normal thyroid tests. Feeling hot and having Raynaud’s Syndrome can both be explained with low temps. Sure, the T4 could have contributed to the downhill slide because T4 and RT3 can downregulate the deiodinase enzyme. There is much information on to give you ideas of what you can do, and there is a listing of treating physicians as well. Maybe there is a physician near you. Or, we can work with your own doctor for free.

  3. Marek September 4, 2015 at 9:27 am - Reply

    You say:
    “Feeling hot and having Raynaud’s Syndrome can both be explained with low temps.”
    But how can there be low temps and feeling hot???

    • Dr. Denis Wilson September 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      I’m not sure how it happens, but some people with low temperatures say they feel hot (as in the environment is uncomfortably warm).

  4. carollee September 5, 2015 at 11:42 am - Reply

    great info.

  5. Chrissie April 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    My temps this week ranged from 36.3 to 34.7 which was this morning. Had a ‘hunch’ that some of my probs may be temp or thyroid related. I have coeliac disease, wondering if it may be a contributing factor. This site has answered a lot of questions. Thanks.

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