Some health problems are easy to understand and treat the cause, while others seem to make your doctor play a guessing game. Broken arms obviously need setting and casting. Fatigue from lack of sleep needs a schedule and commitment to rest. Pain from tight muscles can be relieved by stretching or massage. In situations like these, the root cause of your pain is obvious, and the treatment plan is fairly straightforward. Unfortunately, not every ailment is so easy to treat or pinpoint what is wrong.
What if you get plenty of sleep but still battle fatigue, or have unexplained dry skin and hair loss?
What if you have battled chronic pain or rashes for years without knowing the underlying reason for the problem?
In situations like these, people often go from doctor to doctor and try a variety of medications and treatments without being able to figure out the real cause or find a cure for their symptoms.
One reason that functional medicine has grown in popularity over the last decade is its ability to effectively treat diseases and symptoms that traditional doctors have been unable to diagnose correctly. The key to this is the holistic, partner-based approach that functional medicine offers. Functional medicine practitioners view themselves as partners with their patients, recognizing that each patient has a unique and individual bodily ecosystem that is affected by genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Functional medicine is also rigorously science-based and one point of intersection between traditional and holistic medicine is the use of laboratory testing.
Functional medicine uses lab tests because they are extremely effective in pinpointing specific problems. The body is an interconnected system, so this approach may seem counterintuitive to the functional medicine approach. Quite the opposite. Often times small imbalances or dysfunctions build up and have a multiplier effect in the body. They surface as various symptoms or interact with one another and act as a cause for a symptom that appears to be something completely different. Commonly, this shows up as a general feeling of fatigue or poor health or as an illness or symptom that will not go away with the typical treatments. The specific information provided by lab tests allows functional medicine practitioners to get the big picture of your body’s ecosystem, as well as tipping them off to what further questions to ask about other factors that influence your wellness.
What tests are offered? What do they do?
Functional medicine doctors commonly use specific lab tests to gain a better understanding of what is going on in your body’s ecosystem. Your body is complex, so different root causes may show up as symptoms that seem typical or irregular for that particular ailment. This is especially the case if one source of disease or dysfunction is interacting with another. The following list gives you an idea of the types of tests doctors may run to get a clearer picture of what exactly is going on in your body, to help begin your journey toward better health.
Thyroid dysfunction has a wide array of symptoms and can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms might include weight gain, weight loss, dry skin, hair loss, depression, or fatigue. A lack of proper diagnosis can occur within conventional medicine because usually only TSH and T4 tests are run when thyroid dysfunction is suspected. A full thyroid panel will include testing for TSH, T4, free T4, T3 uptake, total T3, free T3, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. This blood panel provides a comprehensive view of your thyroid function to understand the full scope of your thyroid health and check for possible autoimmune thyroid problems.