Knowing When To Check Your Thyroid
How Long After My Thyroid Is Removed Will My Tiredness Go Away
Typically, you will be given medication to help with your symptoms right after surgery. Your body actually has thyroid hormone still circulating throughout it, even after the thyroid has been removed. The hormones can still be in your body for two to three weeks. Medication will reintroduce new hormones into your body after the thyroid has been removed. If you are still feeling tired after surgery, remember that this can be a normal part of recovering from any type of surgery. It takes time for your body to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are still experiencing fatigue and other symptoms of thyroid disease after surgery.
My Doctor Says I Have Hypothyroidism But Im Not Sure What That Means My Daughter Has Hyperthyroidism Are They The Same
The function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormone, which regulates the bodys metabolism. When the thyroid fails to make enough thyroid hormone, metabolism slows and patients experience fatigue, low body temperature, cold sensitivity, muscle cramps and a slow heartbeat. The symptoms of hypothyroidism are sluggishness, fatigue, modest weight gain, cold intolerance, hoarseness and constipation. Hyperthyroidism is the opposite condition the thyroid manufactures excessive quantities of thyroid hormone causing an increase in metabolic rate resulting in weight loss, an increased heart rate, anxiety and tremor. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include muscular weakness and possible eye prominence.
Both conditions are believed to be caused by antibodies directed against the thyroid in the case of hypothyroidism the antibodies damage and ultimately destroy the thyroid.
In hyperthyroidism, the antibodies stimulate thyroid function and often cause the thyroid to enlarge, also known as a goiter. Another manifestation of hyperthyroidism is eye prominence called proptosis, which is a bulging of the eyes due to the anti-thyroid antibodies causing inflammation of the orbital eye.
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How To Properly Assess Thyroid Function: The More Data The Better
I see too many thyroid sufferers go undiagnosed.
I also see too many thyroid sufferers treated with medication alone, whose blood tests show improvement, while their thyroid health continues to worsen.
When it comes to thyroid testing, whether youre treated or not, relying solely on blood tests is an accident waiting to happen.
Instead, you have to look at all the data you have available to properly assess your thyroid function. The more data you have, the better.
When I work with a client, I dont only look at blood tests.
I also look at their symptoms.
Often blood tests appear to be normal, while my clients complain of thirty-plus thyroid symptoms. Thats not normal.
Most importantly, I always look at clients temperature and pulse, which is essential to interpreting thyroid tests.
There are also a number of other test markers I use, including alternative thyroid tests, to get even more data.
Then I take all of this data and piece it together, like a detective creates an evidence board to rule out suspects and pinpoint the real culprit.
One of the biggest problems I see is people depending on one numbers printed on a lab result sheet. Those are just numbers.
You have to look at all the evidence.
Otherwise, youre just throwing darts in the dark.
So, if you want to further investigate your own thyroid function, here are a few alternative thyroid labs you can look at.
Pattern #: Thyroid Under Conversion Leading To Hypothyroidism
In this pattern, the thyroid and the pituitary are working properly, but the conversion of T4 to T3 is hampered. This means that the cells can not use the hormones present in the blood. The properly functioning thyroid means that there is enough hormones present to make the TSH test normal.
If the doctor tested for T4 as well , this too would be normal. T4 is inactive, and it must go through conversion process to become T3, the active form of thyroid hormone.
After the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary, and after the pituitary releases TSH, and after thyroid peroxidase makes T3/T4 in the thyroid, T3 and T4 is released into the blood and catches a ride on a protein called Thyroid Binding Globulin which acts as a taxi to transfer the hormones.
Roughly 93% of the thyroid hormones is in the form of T4 which is an inactive form and must be converted to T3 before the cells of the body can use it. 7% is made into T3 and can be immediately transferred to cells by thyroid binding globulin proteins.
In the liver, around 60% of the inactive T4 is converted to T3. Another 20% gets converted to reverse T3 which is inactive and excreted from the body. The last 20% is converted to T3S and T3AC which are inactive forms of T3. T3S and T3AC are then converted into the active form of T3 by bacteria located in the gastrointestinal tract. It can then be used by the cells of the body to fuel metabolism
Lab Evaluation: Normal TSH, Normal T4 & Free T4 Levels and Low T3 & Free T3 Levels
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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:
Thyroid Disorders And Symptoms
If you dont produce enough thyroid hormones your bodily processes start to slow down. Signs of an underactive thyroid include:
Autoimmune thyroid diseases An autoimmune disease is when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body in this case, thyroid antibodies attack your thyroid. This can lead to a thyroid disorder. Types of autoimmune thyroid diseases include Graves disease or Hashimotos disease .
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What Are Thyroid Function Tests Used For
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:
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.
Why Not Check Thyroid Hormones Directly
Why not check the thyroid hormones themselves, to see if the gland is not functioning properly?
The thyroid only makes small amounts of T3. Even in cases of severe hypothyroidism, T3 levels dont go down that much. T4 is produced in large quantities by the thyroid. However, TSH is a far superior screening test because small changes in T4 cause large TSH spikes. Usually when a person has hypothyroidism, TSH levels become very high way before T4 levels fall below normal. So, in our analogy, the thermostat is very sensitive to small variations in temperature.
Thats why a normal TSH almost always means the thyroid gland is healthy and producing enough thyroid hormones. Research finds that a simple TSH test is enough to identify hypothyroidism in 99.6% of the tests performed.
You may have heard of expanded or full thyroid panels, which often include tests for TSH, total T3, total T4, free T3, free T4, anti-TPO antibodies, thyroglobulin, and reverse T3. There is no evidence these extra tests help to diagnose and manage thyroid disease, although they definitely add to health care costs. Proponents of expanded thyroid analysis believe more data may support a personalized intervention plan. However, what happens in a lab test often fails to mirror the elaborate dance of hormones in the body. Additionally, findings are highly variable. What happens in your body today may change in a matter of days or weeks, even without significant interventions.
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How Is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed
Most major medical associations recommended diagnosing hypothyroidism through a blood test using a simple two-step approach.
- First, we check the level of thyroid stimulating hormone , which the pituitary gland in the brain releases to stimulate thyroid hormone production.
- If TSH is high, we confirm low thyroid function with a test called free or unbound T4 .
It may help to think of the pituitary gland as a thermostat and the thyroid gland as a heater. The thermostat senses low temperatures outside of the body and turns on the internal heater. When body temperature reaches a set threshold, the thermostat signals the heater to stop working. In the body, it is the TSH produced by the pituitary gland that signals the thyroid to make more T4. When there is less free T4 in the blood, the pituitary senses the low levels and starts making more TSH.
How Is Hypothyroidism Treated
To make matters even more confusing, we still do not recommend universal treatment for people who have subclinical hypothyroidism: slightly elevated TSH and normal free T4.
Even though subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with worse health outcomes, treatment with thyroid hormone medicine may not significantly improve a persons symptoms and quality of life.
From my perspective, more lab testing may cause anxiety, generate further tests, and lead to unnecessary treatment, which can cost hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars. We have good solid evidence to support simple tests to diagnose hypothyroidism and follow people who need treatment for it. I recommend questioning any doctors who recommend tests that are not supported by clinical research. While it may sound like a good idea to check more biomarkers, its important to understand the limitations of weak evidence before embarking on this journey. On some of these websites, dollar signs are just a click away.
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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 .
Thyroid Hormone Test Results
Other medications can interfere with thyroid laboratory measurements, but not with the actual functioning of the thyroid.
A few examples of these medications include:
- Certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
Lastly, research has found that the supplement biotin can interfere with the measurement of thyroid blood tests. Therefore, it’s recommended that people who take biotin stop doing so two days prior to having their thyroid blood tests.
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How Does The Thyroid Gland Function
The major thyroid hormone secreted by the thyroid gland is thyroxine, also called T4 because it contains four iodine atoms. To exert its effects, T4 is converted to triiodothyronine by the removal of an iodine atom. This occurs mainly in the liver and in certain tissues where T3 acts, such as in the brain. The amount of T4 produced by the thyroid gland is controlled by another hormone, which is made in the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain, called thyroid stimulating hormone . The amount of TSH that the pituitary sends into the bloodstream depends on the amount of T4 that the pituitary sees. If the pituitary sees very little T4, then it produces more TSH to tell the thyroid gland to produce more T4. Once the T4 in the bloodstream goes above a certain level, the pituitarys production of TSH is shut off. In fact, the thyroid and pituitary act in many ways like a heater and a thermostat. When the heater is off and it becomes cold, the thermostat reads the temperature and turns on the heater. When the heat rises to an appropriate level, the thermostat senses this and turns off the heater. Thus, the thyroid and the pituitary, like a heater and thermostat, turn on and off. This is illustrated in the figure below.
I Have Hypothyroidism How Will I Know If I Am Getting An Adequate Dose Of Thyroid Hormone
Different patients have differing of hypothyroidism and responsiveness to replacement. Once the proper dose of thyroxine is determined, the symptoms should be eliminated. Blood tests should help confirm that adequate thyroid hormone replacement has been achieved, these measurements would include normalization of serum thyroid stimulating hormone and free T4 .
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How To Treat Thyroid Problems
Now that you know more about the problems that indicate thyroid problems, what should you do? Of course, the first thing you should do is ask your doctor about your symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, you may have another condition that needs to be treated.
However, if you are experiencing several of these symptoms at a time, you most likely have a thyroid condition.
Before you start receiving treatments, first youll need to work with your doctor to get tested. Typically this will include blood tests to check the levels of T4 and T3 in your blood. When the tests come back, your doctor will help you know that to do next.
Usually, treatments include hormone replacement therapy. Iodine supplements may be prescribed in order to treat goiters.
However, if your symptoms are severe, it can be a sign of thyroid cancer. In which case youll need to visit a thyroid surgeon to remove the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy and radiation oncology are also viable options.
Changes In Menstrual Periods
Because hyperthyroidism tells your body to move faster, the menstrual cycle can become lighter and faster. You may also notice longer periods of time in between your periods.
On their own, these symptoms may indicate other medical problems. However, when you or your doctor identify more than one of these symptoms at a time, there is a good chance its due to thyroid problems.
Thankfully, most thyroid disorders are treatable and are not life-threatening. However, if you notice a rapid heart rate and experience either a fever or deliriousness, you should call your doctor immediately. These are signs of a hyperthyroid complication called thyrotoxic crisis.
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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.