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How Long For Thyroid Test Results

When Abnormal Thyroid Function Tests Are Not Due To Thyroid Disease

Thyroid testing: How to get 100% accurate results (how and when to test your thyroid)

While blood tests to measure thyroid hormones and thyroid stimulating hormone are widely available, it is important to remember that no all tests are useful in all circumstances and many factors including medications, supplements, and non-thyroid medical conditions can affect thyroid test results. An endocrinologist can help you make sense of thyroid test results when there is a discrepancy between your results and how you feel. A good first step is often to repeat the test and ensure there are no medications that might interfere with the test results. Below are some common reasons for mismatch between thyroid tests and thyroid disease.

Non-thyroidal illness Significant illness, such as an infection, cancer, heart failure, or kidney disease, or recent recovery from an illness can cause changes transient changes in the TSH. Fasting or starvation can also cause a low TSH. An endocrinologist can help to interpret changes in thyroid function tests in these circumstances to distinguish non-thyroid illness from true thyroid dysfunction.

Test interference Biotin, a common supplement for hair and nail growth, interferes with many thyroid function tests and can lead to inaccurate results. Endocrinologists recommend stopping biotin supplements for 3 days before having a blood test for thyroid function.

What To Consider In Your Personal And Family Medical Histories

Its important to give your physician as many details as possible about your personal medical history, as well as family history . Be sure to discuss:

  • Your general state of healthparticularly any changes you have noticed in your general overall health.
  • Your familys health historyespecially if a close relative has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism .
  • Whether youve ever had thyroid surgery, or radiation to your neck to treat cancer.
  • Any medicines you may be taking that could cause hypothyroidism .

Physical ExaminationLooking for Signs of HypothyroidismYour physician will perform a thorough examination and look for physical signs of hypothyroidism, including:

  • Evidence of dry skin
  • Swelling around the eyes and legs
  • Slower reflexes
  • Slower heart rate

Blood Tests: Hypothyroidism can be detected by different blood tests.

  • TSH Test. A thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH is a blood test that measures the amount of T4 that the thyroid is being signaled to make. If you have an abnormally high level of TSH, it could mean you have hypothyroidism.
  • T4 Test. The thyroid gland produces T4 . The free T4 and the free T4 index are blood tests that, in combination with a TSH test, can let your physician know how your thyroid is functioning.

Normal and Abnormal TSH Ranges

An easy way to remember how the thyroid works–think about supply and demand. As the T4 level falls, the TSH rises. As the T4 level rises, the TSH falls. However, not everyone with hypothyroidism has elevated levels of TSH.

What Is Reverse T3

Reverse T3 is a biologically inactive form of T3. Normally, when T4 is converted to T3 in the body, a certain percentage of the T3 is in the form of RT3. When the body is under stress, such as during a serious illness, thyroid hormone levels may be outside of normal ranges even though there is no thyroid disease present. RT3 may be elevated in non-thyroidal conditions, particularly the stress of illness. It is generally recommended that thyroid testing be avoided in hospitalized patients or deferred until after a person has recovered from an acute illness. Use of the RT3 test remains controversial, and it is not widely requested.

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When To Have A Blood Test For Underactive Thyroid

If your test results show raised TSH but normal T4, you may be at risk of developing an underactive thyroid in the future. Your GP may recommend that you have a repeat blood test every so often to see whether you eventually develop an underactive thyroid. Blood tests are also sometimes used for other measurements,

How To Order Your Lab Tests

The Ultimate Guide To Thyroid Health

If your doctor is ordering the thyroid labs for you, be sure to request a copy so that you can see them for yourself and ensure that they are interpreted correctly.

Additionally, I have included self-order options for most of the labs discussed, in case your current doctor wont order the labs for you.

The self-order options are discounted panels that I set up with Ulta Lab and can be ordered anywhere in the U.S. You will receive a lab order that can be taken to your local lab, and the results will be sent to you electronically.

You can order each individual test that I recommend below, or you can order the entire discounted panel here.

In many cases, you can self-order the labs and then send the receipts for reimbursement to your insurance.

Now, lets take a look at each thyroid test and what they mean for your thyroid health.

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What Blood Tests Do Doctors Use To Check Thyroid Function

Doctors may order one or more blood tests to check your thyroid function. Tests may include thyroid stimulating hormone , T4, T3, and thyroid antibody tests.

For these tests, a health care professional will draw blood from your arm and send it to a lab for testing. Your doctor will talk to you about your test results.

Diagnosis Of An Underactive Thyroid Function Is Made Based On A Combination Of Thyroid Blood Test Results Symptoms And Several Other Factors

Hypothyroidism is evaluated and diagnosed by a physician, usually an endocrinologist or your primary care doctor. Symptoms, signs, and more critically, blood testsare taken into consideration when evaluating the possibility of an underactive thyroid glandall of which help identify the cause and severity of the disease.

A diagnosis is reached after a thorough review of the patients personal medical and family histories, any risk factors, findings on physical examination, in addition to the results of thyroid function levels. There are several types of hormones checked in a blood test to assess your thyroid statusthe most definitive one is the TSH . Often, physicians may decide to check the free thyroxine, or T4, free T4 index, or total T4 to aid in the diagnosis.

Your doctor may check your thyroid status for an underactive thyroid by reviewing thyroid hormone levels. Photo: 123rf

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What Other Tests May Be Ordered In Addition To A Thyroid Panel

Blood tests that may be performed in addition to a thyroid panel may include:

  • Thyroid antibodies – to help diagnose autoimmune thyroid disease and distinguish it from other thyroid conditions
  • Calcitonin – to help diagnose C-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid cancer
  • Thyroglobulin – primarily to monitor treatment and recurrence of thyroid cancer
  • Thyroxine-binding globulin – to evaluate patients with abnormal T4 and T3 levels

How Long Does It Take To Get Thyroid Biopsy Results

READING A THYROID BLOOD TEST PANEL // WHAT YOUR RESULTS CAN MEAN?

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What Is A Thyroid Function Test

A thyroid function test is a blood test to check the levels of the hormones made by your thyroid gland. The test also checks the level of a hormone made by the pituitary gland in your brain, which acts on your thyroid gland.

The two hormones, thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone , work together and are usually in balance. In a healthy person the brain produces just the right amount of TSH to keep the thyroid gland ticking over. The thyroid gland then produces just the right amount of thyroxine.

This is called a feedback loop: if the thyroid gland makes too much thyroxine it will feed back to the brain to make less TSH. This diagram shows the feedback loop between the thyroid gland in your neck and the pituitary gland in the brain:

See the separate leaflet called Thyroid Problems for more details.

What Are Normal Thyroid Hormone Levels

The thyroid itself is regulated by another gland that is located in the brain, called the pituitary. In turn, the pituitary is regulated in part by the thyroid and by another gland called the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus releases a hormone called thyrotropin releasing hormone , which sends a signal to the pituitary to release thyroid stimulating hormone . In turn, TSH sends a signal to the thyroid to release thyroid hormones. If a disruption occurs at any of these levels, a defect in thyroid hormone production may result in a deficiency of thyroid hormone .

Hypothalamus TRH

Thyroid T4 and T3

The rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the pituitary gland. If there is an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the body to allow for normal functioning, the release of TSH is increased by the pituitary gland in an attempt to stimulate more thyroid hormone production. In contrast, when there is an excessive amount of circulating thyroid hormone, TSH levels fall as the pituitary attempts to decrease the production of thyroid hormone.

  • In persons with hypothyroidism , there is a continuously decreased level of circulating thyroid hormones.
  • In persons with hyperthyroidism , there is a continuously elevated level of circulating thyroid hormones.

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Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test

A radioactive iodine uptake test, also called a thyroid uptake test, can help check thyroid function and find the cause of hyperthyroidism. The thyroid takes up iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones, which is why this is called an uptake test. Your health care professional may ask you to avoid foods high in iodine, such as kelp, or medicines containing iodine for a week before the test.

For this test, you will swallow a small amount of radioactive iodine in liquid or capsule form. During the test, you will sit in a chair while a technician places a device called a gamma probe in front of your neck, near your thyroid gland. The probe measures how much radioactive iodine your thyroid takes up from your blood. Measurements are often taken 4 to 6 hours after you swallow the radioactive iodine and again at 24 hours. The test takes only a few minutes.

If your thyroid collects a large amount of radioactive iodine, you may have Graves disease, or one or more nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. You may have this test at the same time as a thyroid scan.

Even though the test uses a small amount of radiation and is thought to be safe, you should not have this test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What Is A Thyroid

What does the blood test actually tell about your 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 .

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Understanding Thyroid Labs For Medication Prescriptions And Adjustments

Thyroid labs, especially TSH, free T3, and free T4, are going to be critical for determining if you need to start, increase, or reduce the dose of your thyroid hormone medications, as well as if youre on the right thyroid medications.

Some physicians who prescribe thyroid medications will not prescribe a medication unless the TSH is above 10 IU/mL, and will be satisfied when a person who is taking thyroid meds has a TSH under 10 IU/mL. I think this is the reason why many people continue to have fatigue, cold intolerance, difficulty with weight loss, and hair loss despite taking thyroid medications.

When the TSH is between 2.5 IU/mL and 10 IU/mL, and/or when T3 and T4 are within normal limits, this is known as subclinical hypothyroidism. This means that the thyroid is still able to make enough thyroid hormone, but not without sacrifice. At this point, our thyroid is working overtime, leading to many of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The thyroid is constantly getting a signal to make more and more hormone, and your body is likely running out of nutrients to make more hormone. This results in additional inflammation to the thyroid, attracting more antibodies and fueling the autoimmune process. As many as 5 percent of people with subclinical hypothyroidism will progress to overt hypothyroidism each year due to this.

What Does Your Thyroid Gland Do

Your thyroid gland is a gland found at the front of your neck, just below your Adams apple. Your thyroid gland produces hormones that play a key role in regulating your metabolism and affects things like your heart rate, body temperature, and breathing. These hormones are:

  • thyroxine

The levels of these hormones are controlled by thyrotropin-releasing hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone .

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Can I Take The Test At Home

At-home thyroid test kits are commercially available without a prescription and measure the same hormones as the traditional thyroid panel.

For at-home testing, you prick your finger to get the necessary blood sample. That sample is then mailed to a laboratory that conducts the thyroid panel and makes the results available to you directly.

While at-home testing can measure thyroid levels, it is generally not a substitute for a test ordered by your doctor. If an at-home test detects abnormal thyroid levels, your doctor will likely recommend a new blood sample and thyroid panel to confirm the results. At-home tests for thyroid labs may not be as accurate as tests done in a laboratory.

How Do I Know If My Thyroid Dose Is Correct

What are your thyroid blood tests really saying?

Monitoring thyroid levels on medication Correct dosing of thyroid hormone is usually assessed using the same tests for diagnosis of thyroid disease, including TSH and FT4. Thyroid tests are typically checked every 4-6 weeks initially and then every 6 to 12 months once stable. In special circumstances, such as pregnancy, a history of thyroid cancer, central hypothyroidism, amiodarone therapy, or use of combination T4 and T3 thyroid hormone replacement, your endocrinologist may check different thyroid tests. Additionally, your endocrinologist will evaluate for symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism and peform a physicial exam.

Women who are pregnant and women who may become pregnant should only be treated with levothyroxine . Only T4 efficiently crosses the placenta to provide thyroid hormone to the developing fetus. Thyroid hormone is critical in early pregnancy for brain development. Normal ranges for thyroid tests in pregnancy are different and change by trimester. Women with thyroid disease in pregnancy or who are considering pregnancy should be under the care of an endocrinologist to guide therapy.

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Common Blood Tests And How Long It Takes To Get Results

Some of the more common blood tests a doctor may order include:

  • Complete blood count .This test measures the presence of 10 cell types in the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Examples of these results include hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood cell count, and white blood cell count. CBC results are usually available to your doctor within 24 hours.
  • Basic metabolic panel.This test measures common electrolytes in the blood as well as other compounds. Examples include calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. You may be asked to fast for a certain period of time before having your blood drawn. These results are also typically sent to your doctor within 24 hours.
  • Complete metabolic panel. This blood test measures all the factors mentioned in the test above as well as two protein tests, albumin and total protein, as well as four tests of liver function. These include ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin. A doctor may order this more comprehensive testing if they wish to understand more about your liver or kidney function. Theyll usually receive your results within one to three days.
  • Lipid panel. Lipid panels measure the amount of cholesterol in the body. This includes high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . Your doctor should receive results from the lab within 24 hours.

Signs You Should Do A Thyroid Function Test

If any of these hormones are out of balance it can lead to a thyroid disorder and cause a wide range of symptoms. If youre experiencing any of these symptoms its really important to check your thyroid function. Its also common for thyroid disorders to run in families so its particularly important to test your thyroid function if you think you might be at risk. You can test your thyroid function as part of our women’s hormones blood test.

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Reading Other Thyroid Test Results

  • 1Include your doctor. The beauty of our medical system is that patients do not have to interpret their own results. Your doctor will order tests and interpret your results. She can provide a diagnosis and begin a treatment plan, which likely will include a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Having a general working knowledge of the results and what they mean can help you understand the disorder and help understand the treatment for the condition.
  • Ordering your own tests can be very dangerous and often lead to misguided treatment. You would not try to fix an engine if you did not have training this is no different.
  • 2Interpret thyroid antibody testing to differentiate between various types of thyroid diseases. If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, your doctor will likely order a series of other thyroid investigations in order to more thoroughly investigate and confirm your diagnosis. Antibody testing is commonly performed, and may lead to important clues as to what is going on with your thyroid.
  • Thyroid antibody testing can help to differentiate between types of thyroiditis and also autoimmune conditions of the thyroid.
  • TPO may be elevated in autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Grave’s Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
  • TG may also be elevated in Grave’s Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
  • TSHR may be elevated in Grave’s Disease.
  • A thyroid biopsy can take a sample of a suspicious nodule and rule in or rule out the possibility of cancer.
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