How to Find the Right Thyroid Doctor: 9 Tips

Mary Shomon | Aug 22, 2017

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The type of doctor you should work with to treat your thyroid condition depends on what thyroid condition you have, your experience with doctors treating your thyroid to date, your focus on treatment and healing, and your resources. Find out more about the when you should work with an endocrinologist, and when and why another type of physician may be a better choice for your health.

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When do you need an endocrinologist?

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You should consult an endocrinologist — a specialist in diseases of the endocrine system, including the thyroid — when:

  • You have suspicious thyroid nodules
  • You have thyroid cancer
  • You have Graves’ disease
  • You have symptomatic goiter or nodules
  • When your newborn or child has a thyroid condition

You can find endocrinologists at the American Thyroid Association database, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) database.

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Finding an experienced thyroid surgeon

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If you are having thyroid surgery, you should find an experienced or “high-volume” thyroid surgeon who performs at least 26 — and ideally more than 50 — thyroid surgeries per year. Experienced thyroid surgeons have significantly lower complication rates. You can find thyroid surgeons at the practitioner databases of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the American Thyroid Association, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

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When do you need an integrative physician?

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Integrative physicians incorporate the best of conventional and holistic approaches — including medications, supplements, nutrition, and lifestyle changes — and a whole-body approach to your diagnosis and treatment. If you are being treated for Hashimoto’s or you are on thyroid hormone replacement medication and still not feeling well, an integrative physician may be a better option to explore T3 treatment, natural desiccated thyroid, diet/lifestyle changes, and other treatment approaches.

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What types of doctors are integrative?

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Integrative physicians include holistic medical doctors (M.D.), osteopaths (D.O.), and licensed naturopaths (N.D.). They frequently combine conventional and holistic approaches in their care. Osteopathic and naturopathic physicians attend medical school and are required to do internships and residencies like M.D.s. Osteopaths are licensed to practice medicine and prescribe in all 50 states. Naturopathic physicians who have a license can operate as full physicians in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

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Where can you find integrative practitioners?

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Some resources to find an open-minded, integrative practitioner for your thyroid care include:

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More resources to find integrative practitioners

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  • The International College of Integrative Medicine offers its ICIM Member Search.
  • The American Association of Integrative Medicine has a Find-a-Provider Directory.
  • American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine database
  • American Holistic Health Association Practitioner Members
  • American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Find a Doctor directory
  • American Osteopathic Association Find a DO directory
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What about chiropractors?

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In recent years, chiropractors have moved into testing and nutritionally-based treatment of a number of diseases, including thyroid disease. Be aware that some chiropractors offer high-priced “thyroid programs” costing $10,000 or more that involve tests and supplements that cost far less from other practitioners. Another consideration: Chiropractors are legally prohibited from prescribing drugs, so if you need thyroid medication, a chiropractor is unable to provide that treatment.

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Working with your insurance or HMO

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If you must work with a doctor who accepts your insurance or who is part of your Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), take advantage of online directories to review the doctor’s expertise and focus before you make an appointment. Some HMOs — Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross Blue Shield, for example — have osteopathic and naturopathic physicians on staff providing primary or specialty care in some areas. You may also want to read this helpful article from U.S. News and World Report, regarding health insurance coverage for alternative medicine.

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Signs that you need a new thyroid doctor

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Part of being a good advocate for yourself is knowing when to get a new doctor. Some signs:

  • Your doctor is rude, dismissive, or disrespectful to you.
  • Your doctor is not willing to discuss optimizing your thyroid hormone replacement treatment with T3 or natural desiccated thyroid drugs.
  • Your doctor assumes that your symptoms are due to stress, depression, or overeating, and keeps trying to prescribe antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or cholesterol drugs instead of optimizing thyroid treatment.