Friday, August 19, 2022
HomeHow To Read Thyroid Test Results

How To Read Thyroid Test Results

Can I Take The Test At Home

How To Read Your Thyroid Panel Results

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 To Order Your Lab Tests

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.

How Does A Blood Test For Hyperthyroidism Work

A TSH test for hyperthyroidism evaluates your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone , and the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 may also be evaluated. Because TSH signals the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones, unusually low levels of TSH can mean that your thyroid is making too many hormones. T3 and T4 measurements can also reveal just how high your thyroid hormone levels are, which can help your healthcare provider decide on a treatment strategy.

You May Like: What Organ System Is The Thyroid Gland In

Tsh Levels During Pregnancy

Thyroid hormones can affect brain and nervous system development of the baby, especially during the first trimester. At around 12 weeks, the baby will start to produce thyroid hormones of its own. Until then, the baby is entirely dependent on the transfer of thyroid hormones from the mother.

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can occur during pregnancy. You may also have one of these conditions prior to getting pregnant and not know it.

Untreated thyroid disease can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or low birth weight. It can also cause preeclampsia. Having an underactive thyroid during pregnancy can also affect the babys growth and brain development.

Its important to have your TSH levels checked during pregnancy to make sure that both you and your baby remain healthy.

Hormones secreted during pregnancy can affect TSH levels, altering them from your typical numbers.

This chart provides an overview of normal, low, and high TSH levels for pregnant women who are between 18 and 45 years old:

Normal

Having a doctor monitor your thyroid gland and its production of thyroid hormones is the only way to comprehensively determine thyroid health.

The thyroid is one of several glands and structures that make up the bodys endocrine system.

It works in partnership with the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These glands stimulate the thyroid to secrete two hormones, which are then released into the bloodstream: T4 and T3.

Side Effects And Aftercare

Hypothyroidism Undetected: Why It Is Often Missed

A blood draw is a routine, minimally invasive procedure. During the days immediately after the blood draw, you may notice slight bruising or soreness at the area where the needle was inserted. An ice pack or an over-the-counter pain reliever can help ease your discomfort.

If you experience a great deal of pain, or if the area around the puncture becomes red and swollen, follow up with your doctor immediately. These could be signs of an infection.

Don’t Miss: How Long Can You Have Thyroid Cancer Without Knowing

What Medications Can Affect The Thyroid Panel Tests

Many multivitamins, supplements , and over-the-counter and prescription medications may affect thyroid test results and their use should be discussed with your healthcare practitioner prior to testing. For example, biotin can interfere with some lab tests, so your healthcare practitioner may advise you to refrain from taking biotin or supplements that contain biotin for a few days before having blood drawn for a thyroid panel.

What Is Being Tested

Thyroid function tests are used to check for a number of thyroid problems. The tests measure the amount of different hormones including thyroid stimulating hormone , thyroxine , and triiodothyronine . Other tests on the thyroid include various antibodies related to thyroid tissue.

TSH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. TSH is carried in the blood to the thyroid gland, which sits at the front of the neck. From there, TSH influences how much T4 and T3 are released into the blood.

TSH, T3 and T4 levels can all be tested in the blood. Your doctor will probably test TSH first, then T3 and T4 if TSH is abnormal. Tests can also be used to measure antibodies to diagnose autoimmune thyroid disease.

You May Like: Is Thrush A Sign Of Underactive Thyroid

The Thyroid Screening Test

The thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH test, is used as a screening test for thyroid disease, as well as a test for monitoring the correct dose of medication needed for an individual.

TSH is a pituitary hormone that responds to low/high amounts of circulating thyroid hormone. If youre new to thyroid lab testing, it may seem counterintuitive, but an elevated TSH means that you do not have enough thyroid hormone on board and that you are hypothyroid. This is because the TSH hormone senses low thyroid levels and is released when there is a lack of it, in an effort to get the body to make more.

In advanced cases of Hashimotos and primary hypothyroidism, this lab test will be elevated. In the case of Graves disease and hyperthyroidism, TSH levels will be low. People with Hashimotos and mild or central hypothyroidism, may have a normal reading on this test.

If youve been a thyroid patient for a while, youre probably thinking to yourself, Well, of course, doesnt everyone know that? and I have to warn you Ive unfortunately seen physicians who have mistakenly thought that a low TSH meant one had an underactive thyroid, and a high TSH, an overactive thyroid putting their patients in really dangerous situations by over or under medicating them!

Thus, many physicians may miss the patients who are showing an elevated TSH. This is one reason why patients should always ask their physicians for a copy of any lab results.

Recommended test: TSH

Hidden Thyroid Problem #2

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

If your T4 level is below the middle of the reference range and your TSH is normal or high

this is a common sign of estrogen dominance and that estrogen is directly suppressing your thyroid gland from releasing thyroid hormones.

Estrogen has a tendency to inhibit the proteolytic enzymes that are required for your thyroid gland to release the thyroid hormone it has stored.

Don’t Miss: Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Your Thyroid

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.

Testing Your Thyroid Levels

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 .

Also Check: Thyroid Facial Swelling

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 Tsh Level Requires Treatment

Thyroid Blood Testing: Everything You Need To Know

The American Thyroid Association recommends that patients older than 65, should be treated for hyperthyroidism if TSH levels are below 0.1 mIU/L. Patients younger than 65 are treated if they are post-menopausal women, have coexisting conditions such as heart disease or osteoporosis, or symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Subclinical hyperthyroidism with TSH levels between 0.1 to 0.4 mIU/L with normal T3 and T4 levels may be just monitored if the patient is below 65 and has no symptoms. Patients above 65 or those below 65 with comorbidities or symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be treated depending on their condition.

Doctors usually start treatment for hypothyroidism if the TSH level remains persistently elevated above 10.0 mIU/L even if T4 is normal and the patient has no symptoms. Thyroid levels are usually periodically monitored and maintained optimally with appropriate dosage changes.

Subclinical hypothyroidism, which means TSH levels of 5.0 to 10.0 mIU/L and normal T4, may require treatment if the individual has a positive thyroid antibodies test, experiences symptoms, or is at high risk for developing hypothyroidism.

If you have questions about TSH levels, ask your doctor to explain what your TSH level means.

Also Check: What Are Early Warning Signs Of Thyroid Cancer

Understanding Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

As mentioned above, the thyroid stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. It works sort of like the master of the hormones, and rules the production of T3 and T4 from its control center.If you have too much TSH, it might mean that your thyroid gland isnt making enough T3 or T4. Remember, the TSH is supposed to stimulate the thyroid gland but if the gland isnt responding, then youll have too much TSH in your system.If your TSH levels are too low, it may mean that your thyroid gland is making too much thyroid hormone. This excessive thyroid production could actually suppress the TSH.

A word of warning for pregnant women: Its incredibly important that your hormones are balanced in pregnancy, as thyroid stimulating hormone plays a role in the development of a healthy fetus.

How Were The Results Analyzed

Your results analysis was completed by a board-certified physician. Optimal range values and interpretations are in line with leading thyroid authorities .

Remember, however, that this analysis is for informational purposes only. You should use it as a starting point or to further understand what you have already discussed with your doctor. It is not a replacement for a professional medical visit.

Thyroid conditions and hormones are complicated and test results may be affected by multiple factors. Your doctor is the best person to take a holistic look at you, your medical history, and the relationships between your different thyroid hormones. They can provide you with the most customized, accurate interpretation and next steps to follow.

Don’t Miss: Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Your Thyroid

How Is The Sample Collected For Testing

A blood sample is taken by a needle placed in a vein in your arm.;A tourniquet is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. The blood sample is collected in a tube, which is sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Setting Your Browser To Accept Cookies

How to Interpret Your THYROID Lab Results

There are many reasons why a cookie could not be set correctly. Below are the most common reasons:

  • You have cookies disabled in your browser. You need to reset your browser to accept cookies or to ask you if you want to accept cookies.
  • Your browser asks you whether you want to accept cookies and you declined. To accept cookies from this site, use the Back button and accept the cookie.
  • Your browser does not support cookies. Try a different browser if you suspect this.
  • The date on your computer is in the past. If your computer’s clock shows a date before 1 Jan 1970, the browser will automatically forget the cookie. To fix this, set the correct time and date on your computer.
  • You have installed an application that monitors or blocks cookies from being set. You must disable the application while logging in or check with your system administrator.

Also Check: Armour Thyroid Copay Card

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.

What Blood Tests Are Done To Test The Thyroid

Thyroid blood tests include:

These tests alone arent meant to diagnose any illness but may prompt your healthcare provider to do additional testing to evaluate for a possible thyroid disorder.

Additional blood tests might include:

  • Thyroid antibodies: These tests help identify different types of autoimmune thyroid conditions. Common thyroid antibody tests include microsomal antibodies , thyroglobulin antibodies , and thyroid receptor antibodies .
  • Calcitonin: This test is used to diagnose C-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid cancer, both of which are rare thyroid disorders.
  • Thyroglobulin: This test is used to diagnose thyroiditis and to monitor treatment of thyroid cancer.

Read Also: Is Noni Juice Good For Thyroid

Common Tests To Examine

Some information on this page is a little more advanced. If you have trouble understanding the process of normal thyroid function, please go to our page describing this process first.

As we have seen from our overview of normal thyroid physiology, the thyroid gland produces T4 and T3. But this production is not possible without stimulation from the pituitary gland which in turn is also regulated by the hypothalamus’s TSH Releasing Hormone. Now, with radioimmunoassay techniques it is possible to measure circulating hormones in the blood very accurately. Knowledge of this thyroid physiology is important in knowing what thyroid test or tests are needed to diagnose different diseases. No one single laboratory test is 100% accurate in diagnosing all types of thyroid disease; however, a combination of two or more tests can usually detect even the slightest abnormality of thyroid function.

For example, a low T4 level could mean a diseased thyroid gland ~ OR ~ a non-functioning pituitary gland which is not stimulating the thyroid to produce T4. Since the pituitary gland would normally release TSH if the T4 is low, a high TSH level would confirm that the thyroid gland is responsible for the hypothyroidism.

What Is A T4 Test

How to Read Thyroid Test Results: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

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.

Recommended Reading: How Long Can You Have Thyroid Cancer Without Knowing

RELATED ARTICLES

Popular Articles