Teenage Hypothyroidism and Telemedicine

Teenage Hypothyroidism and Telemedicine

Did you know that conventional doctors are not allowed to treat patients under 18 years old? That means that a 17 year old with a driver’s license will be sitting in a pediatrician’s office along with infants in car seats. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Especially at how fast kids grow up today.

I feel strongly that women get the brushoff from conventional medicine but never more so than this subset of the population. When I started in clinical practice it came to my attention that teenagers get more of the brush off than ever. It’s the teenage population and specifically the female teenage population.

These young women can benefit tremendously from natural medicine.

Anyone between birth and 18 years old is required to go to the pediatrician. The problem with this is that many teenage bodies function more like adults and less like children’s.  This results in young adults not getting the proper workup or treatment that they need.

Depending on genetics and body weight, hormones will start to fluctuate between ages 9 and 10 in girls.

Teenage girls can get quite a lot of help with natural medicine. A natural approach can offset mood swings, painful periods, acne, sugar cravings and other hormone related symptoms. In cases of hypothyroid, the sooner they get care the better they are. In fact if a young woman has Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid, beginning natural medicine as early as possible can correct the condition and normalize her thyroid function alleviating a lifetime of suffering.

Physically and spiritually this is a critical time in a young woman’s life. Psychologists call it the launch period. This is when a young adult makes the transition from high school to college…In essence from young adult to adult.

This is the time to reinforce self-image, self-confidence, and teach self-care. It is a time of big transition and upheaval even when the young adult is coming from a stable foundation. When you throw health and hormone imbalances into the mix it makes it even more challenging.

I became inspired to write this blog because I recently had teenage twins come to see me with sub-clinical hypothyroidism.

In fact, I have seen many teenage girls with hypothyroidism. I remember one case in particular who scheduled an appointment because I had been treating her mom for hypothyroidism. Remember that the good old apple doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.

She had been having symptoms of low thyroid mostly weight gain, fatigue, fluid retention, hair loss and constipation. The pediatrician did not see any test values out of range and did not think there was a problem. The young woman being only 15 years old was not old enough to go to the endocrinologist. A pediatric endocrinologist would have been the next best choice if the pediatrician had thought a referral was indicated.

When the patient came to me she was in what I call watch and wait limbo; she was suffering with symptoms but was unable to get a proper diagnosis or treatment. I worked with her over the course of 6 years on and off through high school and into college. There were times in between when she could only follow-up on school breaks. In the last year we were able to conduct her appointments using Telemedicine. At her last follow-up her thyroid function was normal, her weight normalized, her hair was healthy and growing and most importantly she no longer had elevated thyroid antibodies. I was able to see and assess all of this using telemedicine! Currently she lives a healthy, energetic life and is on her way to beginning medical school.

This is a success story that warms my heart. I try not to think about how different her life could have been had her mom not scheduled that first appointment. Life can be hard; living with hypothyroidism makes it harder.

This case is a perfect example of how much a natural approach can help teenagers. It is also a great example of how telemedicine can assist in the doctor patient connection regardless of location. In this patient’s case she was away at school for at least half of her treatment. Telemedicine provides a huge Value for everyone but especially for young adults who are spreading their wings and flying out into the world. It provides a way to continue care regardless of location.

With Much Respect

-Dr. Purcell

About Dr. Andrea Purcell

A trusted and well-respected Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Purcell has been in private practice for more than fifteen years. Dr. Purcell is a published author and has a women’s specialty practice for hormone balancing, weight loss, mystery illness, and gastro-intestinal concerns. Dr. Purcell assists her patients by identifying the underlying cause of disease and removing obstacles that impede the body’s natural ability to heal. Drugs and surgery are used as a last resort. She believes that increasing health on the inside shines through to the outside.

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