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How Do You Check Your Thyroid

Facts About The Thyroid Gland

How To Check Your Thyroid

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck that helps regulate metabolism , produce hormones, and affects body functions such as heart rate and energy levels. The thyroid produces two main hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxine .

Though the thyroid gland is small, it is one of the most important glands in the body, as it affects every single cell, tissue, and organ in the body. As we said, many people develop conditions of this gland. We will go over the two main thyroid disorders below, with facts from the ATA.

What Is A Thyroid

Your thyroid is a small gland found at the front of your windpipe . It produces two hormones that help control your metabolism the chemical processes that occur in your body that keep you alive, like breathing and breaking down food into energy. These hormones are called triiodothyronine and thyroxine .

What Are Thyroid Function Tests Used For

Thyroid function tests are usually done to find out whether the thyroid gland is working properly. This is mainly to diagnose an underactive thyroid gland and an overactive thyroid gland .

People with some conditions have an increased risk of thyroid problems and so are often advised to have thyroid function tests undertaken each year. This conditions include:

Certain medicines can also affect the function of your thyroid – for example, amiodarone and lithium.

Thyroid function tests can also be done to:

  • Monitor treatment with thyroid replacement medicine for people who have hypothyroidism.
  • Check thyroid gland function in people who are being treated for hyperthyroidism.
  • Screen newborn babies for inherited problems with the thyroid gland.

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Top 10 Thyroid Tests And How To Interpret Them

Medically reviewed and written by Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP on August 25, 2021

Many cases of thyroid problems are missed because most doctors dont perform a comprehensive test panel. I spent almost a decade undiagnosed because I only had one marker tested. My thyroid condition was missed completely, leading me to deal with needless mystery symptoms like chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, and many others, for far too long!

I have a copy of my lab results from 2008, before I was diagnosed with Hashimotos and still searching for a reason behind my exhaustion, hair loss, anxiety, and digestive issues. On this lab report, my TSH is at 4.5 IU/mL, and there is a note written from the doctor: Your thyroid function is normal, no need to do anything. Perhaps a TSH of 4.5 IU/mL would have been normal for a 95-year-old woman, but I was 25 and sleeping 12+ hours a night to feel rested! Of course, even as a pharmacist, I didnt think to question the doctor and most people dont.

If you suspect that you may have a thyroid condition, or know someone who does, this article will go over all of the most helpful tests that can help you identify a thyroid condition.

This article will also teach you how to understand your labs so that you can advocate for proper treatment for yourself.

In this article, Ill go over:

Testing Your Thyroid Levels

One Simple and Effective Test to Check Your Thyroid With A ...

According to the American Thyroid Association, there isnt one test for every situation; in fact, there are several kinds of thyroid tests. But if you are concerned about thyroid issues, or if your hormones are imbalanced, your doctor may provide an initial TSH level blood test. This is because the TSH level can serve as a tip-off to other, more specific issues.Whats a normal TSH level? Most lab companies have a wide reference as it relates to TSH levels , Dr. Rice says. So, if your results are somewhere between 0.4-4.0, youd be in the normal range. However, there is research that suggests that the reference range for TSH should be narrowed to 0.4 to 2.5, says Dr. Rice, which means that the normal range could be even smaller than some healthcare providers might think.Generally, healthy TSH levels are an indicator the whole system is working well, but thats an oversimplification at best. A normal T3 level might be somewhere between 100 to 200 nanograms per deciliter , while a normal T4 level falls between 5.0 to 12.0 micrograms per deciliter . Free T4, which tests for the amount of T4 that is available in the body, should range between 0.8 to 1.8 nanograms per deciliter .

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Considering Taking A Thyroid Test Look For The Symptoms

Be aware that symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are easy to miss; it is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people may have sub-optimal thyroid function and do not even know it. So what should you look for? Here are some of the common thyroid symptoms I see in my patients.

Feeling Tired, Sluggish or Low Energy

Everyone goes through times of stress or busy periods that can disrupt their sleep or leave them feeling burned out. If you find yourself hooked on caffeine to get through the day, constantly dragging, or in need of a lot of sleep , you may have an underactive thyroid.

Stomach/Digestion Concerns

You might be wondering what your thyroid has to do with your stomach, but your thyroid actually plays a role in healthy bowel function. If you feel bloated, constipated or have that heavy feeling in your stomach, your thyroid may not be functioning optimally. In this case, hypothyroidism can be ruled out. Conversely, if you experience excessive diarrhea, your thyroid may be overactive and hyperthyroidism should be considered.

Hair and Skin Changes

Mood Changes

Fertility Issues, Miscarriages and Menstrual Cycle Changes

Whenever one hormone is disrupted, there is often a disruption to other hormones up or down stream. If you are still menstruating, heavy, more frequent, or more painful periods can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Shorter, lighter or more infrequent menstruation may accompany hyperthyroidism.

Memory

Using The Btt For Thyroid And Adrenals

An individual can use this test to help them find out about their thyroid function as well as adrenals.; In fact, you can see how your supplement or medication dosage is supporting your body.; Here are 5 ways this test can benefit your treatment

  • After several days of taking a thyroid medication or thyroid glandular, you should begin noticing an improvement in the temperature.
  • It can help you change the dosage of your thyroid medication or supplement.
  • It can help you assess your adrenal function, which plays a role in the basal temperature as well. ;This is most notable in phase IIIA-IIID adrenal dysfunction.
  • It can help you change the dosage of your adrenal supplements based on the results you are getting.

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Understanding The Two Main Thyroid Hormones: T3 & T4

The thyroid gland takes its direction from both the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland at the base of your skull. In a complex dance, the hypothalamus releases something called thyrotropin-releasing hormone, which then triggers the pituitary gland to produce something called the thyroid stimulating hormone . The TSH is then what helps your thyroid gland release T4 and T3. Without TSH, the system would fail.

Thyroxine is responsible for your metabolism, mood, and body temperature, among other things.;T3, too, is made in the thyroid gland, and it can also be made in other tissues within the body by converting T4 into T3. This hormone is at the center of your digestive and metabolic function, and it also oversees bone health.;

So, if your T3 and T4 levels are too low, the pituitary gland will release more TSH. If theyre too high, the gland will release less TSH but this give and take system only works if everything is functioning properly.

What Does The Thyroid Do

How To Do A Thyroid Neck Check Self-Exam

Your thyroid has an important job to do within your body releasing and controlling thyroid hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is a process where the food you take into your body is transformed into energy. This energy is used throughout your entire body to keep many of your bodys systems working correctly. Think of your metabolism as a generator. It takes in raw energy and uses it to power something bigger.

The thyroid controls your metabolism with a few specific hormones T4 and T3 . These two hormones are created by the thyroid and they tell the bodys cells how much energy to use. When your thyroid works properly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements.

This is all supervised by something called the pituitary gland. Located in the center of the skull, below your brain, the pituitary gland monitors and controls the amount of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream. When the pituitary gland senses a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of hormones in your body, it will adjust the amounts with its own hormone. This hormone is called thyroid stimulating hormone . The TSH will be sent to the thyroid and it will tell the thyroid what needs to be done to get the body back to normal.

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What Imaging Tests Do Doctors Use To Diagnose And Find The Cause Of Thyroid Disease

Your health care professional may order one or more imaging tests to diagnose and find the cause of thyroid disease. A trained technician usually does these tests in your doctors office, outpatient center, or hospital. A radiologist, a doctor who specializes in medical imaging, reviews the images and sends a report for your health care professional to discuss with you.

Why Do I Need A Tsh Test

You may need a TSH test if you have symptoms of too much thyroid hormone in your blood , or too little thyroid hormone .

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, include:

Symptoms of hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, include:

  • Weight gain
  • Low tolerance for cold temperatures
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Constipation

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Are There Risk Factors That Increase Your Chances Of Having Thyroid Problems

Females are more likely to have a thyroid-related disease than males but other factors may increase the risk of thyroid problems. These include a family history of thyroid disease, having an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, ingesting excessive iodine , age older than 60, and having had a thyroid issue or thyroid cancer in the past.

Where To Get A Thyroid Function Test

Check Your Thyroid At Home With This Simple Test

NHS thyroid function test The NHS offer blood tests which can be done at your GPs or a local hospital. A trained nurse or doctor will take your blood, usually a venous sample.

Home thyroid function test Its possible to order a home thyroid function test kit online and do it yourself. For this test, youll use a lancet to collect a finger-prick blood sample. Your results will be reviewed by a GP and are available for you to view online.

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What Does The Test Measure

The TSH test measures thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is a hormone that prompts the thyroid to produce other hormones. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that makes the hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine . T3 and T4 control your metabolism, or how your body uses and stores energy.

Although TSH acts upon the thyroid gland by binding to the TSH receptor, it is made in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is sometimes called the master gland, because it produces many hormones that control the functions of other glands in the body. The pituitary gland is able to sense when your T3 and T4 hormone levels are too low or too high. In response, it will produce more or less TSH to stimulate your thyroid gland to produce the right amount of hormones.

If your thyroid is underactive, you may have high levels of TSH as your pituitary gland tries to stimulate the thyroid to produce more T3 and T4. If your thyroid is overactive, your TSH may be abnormally low because your pituitary gland stops making TSH when your thyroid hormone levels are too high.

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Who Is Affected By Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease can affect anyone men, women, infants, teenagers and the elderly. It can be present at birth and it can develop as you age .

Thyroid disease is very common, with an estimated 20 million people in the Unites States having some type of thyroid disorder. A woman is about five to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man.

You may be at a higher risk of developing a thyroid disease if you:

  • Have a family history of thyroid disease.
  • Have a medical condition .
  • Take a medication thats high in iodine .
  • Are older than 60, especially in women.
  • Have had treatment for a past thyroid condition or cancer .

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What Is Being Tested

A thyroid panel is a group of tests that may be ordered together to help evaluate thyroid gland function and to help diagnose thyroid disorders. The tests included in a thyroid panel measure the level of thyroid hormones in the blood.

A thyroid panel usually includes tests for:

  • Free T3 or total T3
  • Although rarely used these days, sometimes a T3 resin uptake test is included. T3RU and T4 can be used to calculate a free thyroxine index . This is another method for evaluating thyroid function. It corrects for changes in certain proteins that can affect total T4 levels.

    The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped organ that lies flat across the windpipe at the base of the neck that produces thyroid hormones, primarily T4 and some T3. These hormones travel throughout the body and regulate the metabolism by telling the cells in the body how fast to use energy and produce proteins. Most of the hormone produced by the thyroid is T4. This hormone is relatively inactive, but it is converted into the much more active T3 in the liver and other tissues.

    Almost all of the T3 and T4 circulating in the blood is bound to protein. The small portions that are not bound are called “free” and are the biologically active forms of the hormones. Lab tests can measure the amount of free T3 or free T4 or the total T3 or total T4 in the blood.

    The body has an elaborate feedback system to control the amount of T4 and T3 in the blood.

    Why Having A Correctly Working Thyroid Matters

    Thyroid exam: How to check your thyroid with Dr. Christianson

    Since the thyroid regulates so much of our body, it is important to have it working correctly to have optimum health. Dr. Goldfarb told me that when it comes to your thyroid, some “mild thyroid conditions that are not treated for many years can affect your heart, bones, and other organ systems,” but that there are also “very mild abnormalities” that “may go unnoticed and don’t necessarily need to be treated.” She stressed that “symptoms that are caused by very abnormal thyroid hormones can also affect things like your energy level and productivity, which impacts your general health.”

    In addition, “for women trying to get pregnant, having your thyroid hormones in normal range is important,” the physician said.

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    What Is Thyroid Medication

    Thyroid Hormone Treatment Levothyroxine is thestandard of care in thyroid hormone replacement therapy and treatment of hypothyroidism. Levothyroxine is equivalent to the T4 form of naturally occurring thyroid hormone and is available in generic and brand name forms.

    How do I take levothyroxine? To optimize absorption of your thyroid medication, it should be taken with water at a regular time each day. Multiple medications and supplements decrease absorption of thyroid hormone and should be taken 3-4 hours apart, including calcium and iron supplements, proton pump inhibitors, soy, and multivitamins with minerals. Because of the way levothyroxine is metabolized by the body, your doctor may ask you to take an extra pill or skip a pill on some days of the week. This helps us to fine tune your medication dose for your body and should be guided by an endocrinologist.

    For patients with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, a gluten free formulation of levothyroxine is available.

    Some individuals may have genetic variant that affects how the body converts T4 to T3 and these individuals may benefit from the addition of a small dose of triiodothyronine.

    Liothyronine is replacement T3 thyroid hormone. This medication has a short half-life and is taken twice per day or in combination with levothyroxine. Liothyronine alone is not used for treatment of hypothyroidism long term.

    What Is A T4 Test

    T4 Tests A;Total T4;test measures the bound and free thyroxine hormone in the blood. A;Free T4;measures what is not bound and able to freely enter and affect the body tissues.

    What does it mean if T4 levels are abnormal? Importantly, Total T4 levels are affected by medications and medical conditions that change thyroid hormone binding proteins. Estrogen, oral contraceptive pills, pregnancy, liver disease, and hepatitis C virus infection are common causes of increased thyroid hormone binding proteins and will result in a high Total T4. Testosterone or androgens and anabolic steroids are common causes of thyroid hormone binding proteins and will result in a low Total T4.

    In some circumstances, like pregnancy, a person may have normal thyroid function but Total T4 levels outside of the normal reference range. Tests measuring free T4 either a free T4 or free T4 index may more accurately reflect how the thyroid gland is functioning in these circumstances. An endocrinologist can determine when thyroid disease is present in the context of abnormal thyroid binding proteins.

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