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How Often Should You Get Your Thyroid Levels Checked

Is Your Thyroid Normal Or Is It Time To Get Checked

Thyroid Problems Explained | Who should get a Thyroid Check?

The incidence of thyroid disease seems to be rising dramatically. But we often dismiss the symptoms as simply the effects of a busy life. Is your thyroid normal or is it time to see your doctor?

Source: Best Health, September 2009

Most women have no idea why theyre beginning to gain weight, to feel blue, to crave naps at the strangest times. They dont understand why their periods are getting markedly lighter or suddenly heavier. They figure their hair is thinning or coarsening due to diet or age. They certainly arent aware that theyre experiencing symptoms of thyroid disease, which is now thought to be affecting as much as 10 percent of the North American population, with women at least four times as likely to suffer as men.

Can I Improve My Result

Yes, implementing lifestyle changes can help to manage your condition. In many cases, a thyroid issue is caused by an autoimmune condition but you may be able to manage symptoms with diet and exercise.

For example, if you have hypothyroidism following a diet that emphasises lean meat, plenty of fruit and vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids can help manage the weight gain associated with the disorder. Plus, be sure to eat plenty of fibre as this can help to manage digestive problems like constipation.

People with an overactive thyroid often crave carbohydrate-rich foods because they are burning lots of energy but its important to choose wholegrain options which are high in fibre and starchy, so theyll release energy slowly.

Exercise is also important for both conditions as it can help alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and weight gain. It can also help you to get a better nights sleep. Cutting out smoking can be beneficial because it has been identified as a risk factor for worsening eye problems associated with the autoimmune condition, which causes hyperthyroidism called Graves Disease.

What Are They Symptoms Of An Overactive Thyroid

An overactive thyroid is a condition called Hyperthyroidism and is where the thyroid is overactive and produces too much of the thyroid hormones.

When too much of the T3 and T4 hormones are produced, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Feeling nervous, anxious or irritable
  • Weight loss
  • Irregular or heavy periods

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What Is A T3 Test

T3 TestsT3 tests measure triiodothyronine levels in the blood. A Total T3 test measures the bound and free fractions of triiodothyronine. Hyperthyroid patients typically have an elevated Total T3 level. T3 tests can be used to support a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and can determine the severity hyperthyroidism.

In some thyroid diseases, the proportions of T3 and T4 in the blood change and can provide diagnostic information. A pattern of increased T3 vs T4 is characteristic of Graves disease. On the other hand, medications like steroids and amiodarone, and severe illness can decrease the amount of thyroid hormone the body converts from T4 to T3 resulting in a lower proportion of T3.

T3 levels fall late in the course of hypothyroidism and therefore are not routinely used to evaluate patients with underactive or surgically absent thyroid glands.

Measurement of Free T3 is possible, but is often not reliable and therefore may not be helpful.

How Do Doctors Treat Postpartum Thyroiditis

Thyroid Levels: Do They Need to Be Checked?

The hyperthyroid stage of postpartum thyroiditis rarely needs treatment. If your symptoms are bothering you, your doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker, a medicine that slows your heart rate. Antithyroid medicines are not useful in postpartum thyroiditis, but if you have Graves disease, it may worsen after your baby is born and you may need antithyroid medicines.

Youre more likely to have symptoms during the hypothyroid stage. Your doctor may prescribe thyroid hormone medicine to help with your symptoms. If your hypothyroidism doesnt go away, you will need to take thyroid hormone medicine for the rest of your life.

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Are Thyroid Nodules Cancer

The vast majority more than 95% of thyroid nodules are benign . If concern arises about the possibility of cancer, the doctor may simply recommend monitoring the nodule over time to see if it grows.

Ultrasound can help evaluate a thyroid nodule and determine the need for biopsy. A thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy can collect samples of cells from the nodule, which, under a microscope, can provide your doctor with more information about the behavior of the nodule.

Free Levels Vs Total Levels Of T3 And T4

If you noticed, the tests done in the study were free levels of T3 and T4. The cheaper test, and more commonly done, is total T4. Measuring the free levels of hormone in your blood means we are measuring how much is available to work on the cellular level.

Total levels of hormone are a combination of free levels and bound levels. You see, most of the hormones are bound by proteins to carry them around in the bloodstream, so they can be available at distant sites. When the free hormone is used by a cell, the binding protein can release another hormone so it is then available. The binding of the hormone is a complex deal that is affected by other circulating hormones, such as estrogen.

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What If You Suspect That You May Have Borderline Or Subclinical Hypothyroidism Which Means You Have High Tsh Hormone Levels But Theyre Not Quite High Enough For Your Doctor To Recommend Treatment Yet

The American College of Endocrinology believes that it is important to listen to every patient, address their concerns and to use both objective and subjective measures to determine whether you will benefit or not from treatment. The medication used for thyroid treatment is very safe and has been around for a very long time, so there is no reason not to get tested and seek treatment if you suspect you may have a thyroid hormonal imbalance. It’s better to get tested and realize it is not a thyroid issue like you thought then to wait and have to deal with the symptoms of a chronic illness that can be easily and safely treated once diagnosed.

We know that cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, sleep patterns and menstrual cycles are very objective measures of thyroid function and physiology. If you have things that are not feeling right in those areas, that are part of the syndrome of thyroid disease, you can use those to make your case for trying treatment. If you do that, and you understand the framework that your doctor provides as a reason not to prescribe medication yet, ask for a plan of action like repeated tests. Repeat evaluations and tests ensure that the single point in time that you were tested was not an error. Often, over time, health issues come to light that are not apparent in a single medical visit.

What Is A Tsh Test

How to test your Thyroid at home

Thyroid testsBlood tests to measure thyroid hormones are readily available and widely used. Not all thyroid tests are useful in all situations.

TSH TestThe best way to initially test thyroid function is to measure the TSH level in a blood sample. Changes in TSH can serve as an “early warning system” often occurring before the actual level of thyroid hormones in the body becomes too high or too low.

A high TSH level indicates that the thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormone . On the other hand, a low TSH level usually indicates that the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone . Occasionally, a low TSH may result from an abnormality in the pituitary gland, which prevents it from making enough TSH to stimulate the thyroid . In most healthy individuals, a normal TSH value means that the thyroid is functioning properly.

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What Is A Normal Thyroid Level

Tests often used to assess thyroid hormone status include TSH and FT4 tests. The normal value for a laboratory test is determined by measuring the hormone in a large population of healthy individuals and finding the normal reference range. Normal ranges for thyroid tests may vary slightly among different laboratories, and typical ranges for common tests are given below.

TSH normal values are 0.5 to 5.0 mIU/L. Pregnancy, a history of thyroid cancer, history of pituitary gland disease, and older age are some situations when TSH is optimally maintained in different range as guided by an endocrinologist.

FT4 normal values are 0.7 to 1.9ng/dL. Individuals taking medications that modify thyroid hormone metabolism and those with a history of thyroid cancer or pituitary disease may be optimally managed with a different normal FT4 range.

Total T4 and Total T3 levels measure bound and free thyroid hormone in the blood. These levels are influenced by many factors that affect protein levels in the body, including medications, sex hormones, and liver disease. A normal Total T4 level in adults ranges from 5.0 to 12.0g/dL. A normal Total T3 level in adults ranges from 80-220 ng/dL.

Free T3 assays are often unreliable and not routinely used to assess thyroid function.

Your Personal Cholesterol Levels Are Up

One of the reasons people don’t always know that they should ask to get their thyroid checked is the fact that so many of the symptoms can also indicate some other issue besides too-high or too-low thyroid hormonal levels. You don’t think of a high cholesterol level as indicative of a thyroid problem, but it can be. The Mayo Clinic says to watch out for an “elevated blood cholesterol level” as a symptom of hypothyroidism. The American Thyroid Association explains why this is. “When thyroid hormone levels are low and TSH levels are increased , cholesterol levels are increased,” the organization says. So treatment for the condition may also help to lower cholesterol levels.

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What Happens If Hypothyroidism Is Not Treated

Hypothyroidism can become a serious and life-threatening medical condition if you do not get treatment from a healthcare provider. If you are not treated, your symptoms can become more severe and can include:

  • Developing mental health problems.
  • Not being able to maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Having heart problems.
  • Developing a goiter .

You can also develop a serious medical condition called myxedema coma. This can happen when hypothyroidism isnt treated.

Thyroid Test When Is The Right Time To Take A Thyroid Test

How to Test Your Thyroid With a Thermometer

Almost twenty years ago, the American College of Physicians, a pretty conservative organization, stunned the medical community by issuing a guideline that women over 50 should have a thyroid test at least once every five years. At that time, most physicians thought that they could diagnose thyroid problems themselves and that testing guidelines were unnecessary.

At our clinic, however, we werent stunned: we were excited! We knew first-hand how challenging it can be to identify and treat thyroid symptoms without testing. It felt like the beginning of a new understanding among conventional medical practitioners. Sadly, even all these years later, with testing guidelines in place, many practitioners still fail to diagnose thyroid concerns. Thats because over or under active thyroid problems can be hard to pin down the symptoms may also resemble those of many other conditions, including aging.

In fact, a couple of years ago, Time Magazine reported that hypothyroidism is one of the top 15 leading conditions doctors most often get wrong.

At our clinic, we have helped thousands of women to restore healthy thyroid function. We know how an under or overactive thyroid can wreak havoc on your life, weight, health, and mood. Its not just a part of getting older and you dont have to live with it!

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What Does The Thyroid Do

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.

Like Armour Naturthroid Westhroid Wp Thyroid Compounded T4 And T3

This is where we see the hugest difference in the timing of your tests for accurate results. If you were to take your thyroid medication within 5 hours of getting your thyroid function tests done, your lab results may show that you are overdosed, even when you may be accurately dosed, or they may show your labs to be within normal limits, when you may actually be under-dosed.

What happens is that the TSH is immediately affected by the T3 in the medication. It starts to drop immediately, and drops for 5 hours after taking the dose of medication. Then, it begins to rise, and reaches a stable point about 13 hours after taking the medication. This can vary in people, but the cited research study found that this is what can be expected in most people.

T3, being the active form of the thyroid hormone, acts differently than T4 in that it has a relatively short half-life. Within 18 hours to 3 days, depending on the person, half of the T3 hormone is left compared to 9 days for T4. Therefore, levels of T3 can fluctuate during the day, in some rapidly declining within the day.

When you take T3 in a medication, the free T3 levels on a blood test are affected immediately by increasing. The peak is about 4 hours after taking the medication. Then it starts the decline.

Thus, it is usually best to postpone your combination medication until after you get your lab test done.

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How Having Hyperthyroidism Changed My Life

In early 2007, I found that I was tired all the time and felt very weak. My muscles seemed to get tired quickly even just walking down the street from my car to my house seemed to wear me out. I also had tremors in my hands, I was hot all the time, even in winter, and my eyesight seemed to be fading.

I chalked some of it up to stress at work but I began to get really scared when even on days off from work, I was still so exhausted. So I went to my primary care physician to see what was going on. He ran a battery of tests, including blood work, on me, and discovered my thyroid numbers were way off, indicating an overactive thyroid.

My physician referred me to an endocrinologist, a doctor who is a specialist in thyroid issues. All it took was him taking literally one look at me, as well as feeling my thyroid nodules in my neck, to figure out that I appeared to have Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism. He also asked me about how I was feeling. I didn’t have all of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. For example, my hair didn’t change, and my skin stayed the same. But I had enough of the symptoms to indicate that there was an issue.

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

Thyroid disease: What You Should Look For In Your Thyroid Care

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 Is A Thyroid Function Test

The thyroid check measures the amount of free thyroxine and free triiodothyronine in the blood. That is the hormones which are not bound to proteins which transport them around the body. By measuring the amount of free, unbound thyroid hormones circulating in the blood, it will be easier to distinguish if the symptoms you might be experiencing are caused by your thyroid.

The test also measures the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and works by stimulating the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. So, levels of TSH may be able to help identify potential issues but is more accurate alongside FT4 and FT3 measurements.

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