What Is Included In A Full Thyroid Panel
The thyroid is the small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism. When your thyroid hormone production drops , your body processes slow down and change, affecting essentially all the systems in your body.
You can measure your thyroid function with a thyroid blood test. Many labs only look only at thyroid-stimulating hormone to assess thyroid health. Unfortunately, TSH alone offers only a narrow understanding of how your thyroid is working. It doesn’t give a comprehensive picture of what’s happening with your thyroid health or how to make specific improvements.
At Paloma Health, in addition to TSH, we believe it is critical to measure free triiodothyronine , free thyroxine , and TPO antibodies to fully understand what’s happening with your thyroid health and how to make specific improvements. Each test offers a different piece of information to tailor a treatment plan for your particular needs.
What Are Thyroid Function Tests
Thyroid function tests are common procedures done to determine how well the thyroid is functioning. Some of the most common thyroid function tests include the following:
Blood tests. This test is done to measure the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the blood which helps determine thyroid function. High levels of the hormone indicate an underactive thyroid. In addition, a blood test can measure levels of hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine , and less often, a protein called thyroglobulin.
Ultrasound exam of the thyroid gland. An ultrasound scan is a diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. It’s done to detect signs of abnormal enlargement, or nodules, on the thyroid, and to guide biopsies of concerning nodules.
Thyroid scans using radioactive iodine or technetium . This test helps determine the cause of abnormal thyroid function. This may be important in deciding whether a person will need a total thyroidectomy or partial thyroidectomy.
Clinical Validity Of Reference Ranges
It should be borne in mind that although the TSH test is regarded by the medical establishment as the Gold Standard test for hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism “a term used to describe an under-active thyroid gland” , the TSH test result alone does not necessarily correlate with symptoms. However, TSH is used as a criterion for including or excluding patient results when fixing the reference ranges for FT3 and FT4, where data from people with thyroid conditions should be excluded. Unfortunately, this use of the TSH test impairs the accuracy of the reference ranges for FT3 and FT4. It is also the case that TSH ranges obtained from healthy people do not apply to patients on thyroid hormone therapy and the relation between TSH and either FT4 or FT3 is altered.
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What Are Thyroid Hormone Blood Tests
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located near your Adam’s apple that produces the hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine .4 T3 and T4 regulate all aspects of your metabolism, such as the rate at which your body uses carbohydrates, your body temperature, and your protein production.3
When your thyroid does not produce enough of these hormones , you may experience a lack of energy, weight gain, and depression. 2 Thyroid function blood tests–also known as thyroid hormone blood tests–can determine whether your thyroid is functioning correctly.7 A healthcare provider can administer these tests to help determine what’s causing your symptoms and which treatment may work best for you.
How To Test For Thyroid Problems At Home
How to check your thyroid hormones at home?
The Everlywell at-home thyroid test can tell you if your thyroid hormone levels suggest hypothyroidism. This test requires only a few drops of blood as a sample. After getting your online test results, you can easily see your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone , free T3 and T4, and TPO antibodies. High TSH and/or low T3 and T4 can indicate hypothyroidism.
You can also take our thyroid test at home to check your hormones for indications of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism means your thyroid gland is overactive: itâs producing too many hormones. Low levels of TSH and/or high T3 and T4 can suggest hyperthyroidism.
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Why Is Thyroid Testing Important
The thyroid impacts many vital body functions, including breathing, heart rate, body weight, body temperature, and more. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime. Thyroid problems can be uncomfortable and affect various organ systems, but many can be managed with proper diagnosis and treatment. Thyroid testing can determine if your thyroid is overactive or underactive . This can be helpful for a doctor to determine the right treatment plan for you.
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.
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How Often Should I Get Routine Blood Work
Your doctor will typically recommend that you get routine blood work at least once a year, around the same time as your yearly physical.
But this is the bare minimum. There are several major reasons you may want to get blood tests more often than that:
- Youre experiencing unusual, persistent symptoms. These could include anything from fatigue to abnormal weight gain to new pain.
- You want to optimize your health. Knowing levels of various blood components, such as HDL and LDL cholesterol, can allow you to tweak your diet or fitness plan to minimize unhealthy habits . This can also maximize the nutrients you put in your body and more.
- You want to reduce your risk of disease or complications. Regular blood tests can catch the warning signs of almost any disease early. Many heart, lung, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed using blood tests.
Talk to your doctor first if you want to get certain tests more often than once a year.
Some other tests that you may want include:
- enzyme markers if youre at risk for cancer or other conditions like liver cirrhosis, stroke, or celiac disease
How Is A Full Thyroid Panel Performed
A full thyroid panel is easily performed by a healthcare professional, at the hospital and all that it requires is a blood test. The doctor will collect blood from a vein in your arm using a needle and then perform the needed laboratory tests as part of the full thyroid panel. Since it is a full thyroid panel that we are talking about, all of the followings will be evaluated:
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Support Gut Health To Improve Thyroid Function
Thyroid-like symptoms or a poor response to thyroid medication may be due to an imbalance in your gut. Gut imbalances like IBS [14
For a more comprehensive discussion of how to optimize your gut health, check out my book, Healthy Gut, Healthy You.
Keeping Tabs On Your Thyroid Health With A Thyroid Panel
If youve been concerned that your symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, or hair loss are coming from a thyroid problem, running a thyroid panel is one of the first steps to take to learn more.
A thyroid panel is simply a collection of thyroid blood tests. Leaving a thyroid imbalance uncorrected can have health consequences, and a thyroid panel is the primary tool you can use to guide your diagnosis and treatment.
There are a few different schools of thought about thyroid panels. Some doctors will only look at your thyroid stimulating hormone , while others will run a complete and complex thyroid panel to monitor different markers. But which approach is best?
In this article, well cover what a thyroid panel is and which markers are most important to monitor. Well also discuss when you would want to run a thyroid panel, what it tells you, and what to do with your thyroid panel results.
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T3 And Reverse T3 Levels
T3 test results, including free T3 and reverse T3, should be interpreted with care by your healthcare provider.
When thyroid panel test results show low free T3 , they may prescribe combination T4/T3 medication.
This approach fails to recognize that low T3 is usually an indicator of poor nutrition, chronic inflammation, and/or chronic illness . A better approach is to treat the cause of low T3.
Weve noticed in the clinic that low T3 levels often rebound when gut health is addressed, and research supports this approach . For most patients, T3 medication is not required.
Free T4 By Lmmulite Or By Equilibrium Dialysis
Measurement of free T4 with a valid assay can be useful for diagnosis of true hypothyroidism and differentiating it from the euthyroid sick condition. Euthyroid sick dogs may have low T3 and /or T4 levels due to other non-thyroid factors . Free T4 is the non-protein bound thyroxine and it is present in lower concentrations in the blood than total T4. For accurate FT4 testing the procedure should have a method for separating the protein bound hormone from the free hormone.
The Equilibrium Dialysis method uses an overnight incubation in buffer and dialysis cells to separate the bound T4 from the free. The Immulite method uses a very specific antibody. The Immulite method is faster and less expensive than the ED method and for dogs it produces results that are comparable to the dialysis method. The lmmulite method will be used for all canine FT4 testing in this lab, unless ED is specifically requested. FT4 should be used to monitor thyroid supplementation in any dog known or suspected to have thyroid autoantibodies , as these tests remove the autoantibody effects.
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Drawing Blood For Thyroid Function Tests
Talk to your doctor about any medications youre taking, and tell your doctor if youre pregnant. Certain medications and being pregnant may influence your test results.
A blood draw, also known as venipuncture, is a procedure performed at a lab or a doctors office. When you arrive for the test, youll be asked to sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a cot or gurney. If youre wearing long sleeves, youll be asked to roll up one sleeve or to remove your arm from the sleeve.
A technician or nurse will tie a band of rubber tightly around your upper arm to make the veins swell with blood. Once the technician has found an appropriate vein, theyll insert a needle under the skin and into the vein. You may feel a sharp prick when the needle punctures your skin. The technician will collect your blood in test tubes and send it to a laboratory for analysis.
When the technician has gathered the amount of blood needed for the tests, theyll withdraw the needle and place pressure on the puncture wound until the bleeding stops. The technician will then place a small bandage over the wound.
You should be able to return to your normal daily activities immediately.
A Note From Paloma Health
Should your results indicate that your thyroid is underactive, it is treatable with thyroid hormone replacement medication. When choosing thyroid medication with your doctor, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. We recommend that you work with a trustworthy doctor who can assess your symptoms, history, and lab results to determine the best treatment plan for you.
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Sexually Transmitted Disease Tests
Many sexually transmitted diseases can be diagnosed using a blood sample. These tests are often combined with urine samples or swabs of infected tissue for more accurate diagnoses.
The following STDs can be diagnosed with blood tests:
Blood tests arent always accurate right after contracting an infection. For an HIV infection, for example, you may need to wait at least a month before a blood test can detect the virus.
Thyroid Tests Can Uncover Specific Diseases
Mild hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be difficult to detect without a thyroid panel. Issues surrounding mood may be diagnosed as a psychiatric condition without a blood test. Since depression or anxiety is common with thyroid issues, many people visit a psychologist or psychiatrist rather than an endocrinologist.
Thyroiditis can be diagnosed with the right testing. Thyroiditis is a type of thyroid inflammation that injures the thyroid gland. This initially creates hyperthyroidism before developing hypothyroidism. Thyroiditis may require long term treatment with hormone replacement medication.
Graves disease happens due to an overproduction of hormones. Symptoms can include heat sensitivity, a fine tremor, menstrual changes, bulging eyes, fatigue, and a rapid heart rate. The symptoms are wide-ranging and it is difficult to treat without a blood test. Anyone can be affected by this disease, but it is more common in women.
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What Does The Panel Show
A full thyroid panel shows:
- Thyroid stimulating hormone
- Reverse T3
Each element has its own standard measurement for what is considered healthy.
Thyroid stimulating hormones are found in the pituitary gland in the brain. TSH regulates thyroid hormones so they stay at the correct level. Although these hormones are produced in the brain, the test is a simple blood test.
TPO antibodies can indicate a thyroid disorder such as Hashitmotos disease. This autoimmune disorder specifically affects the thyroid as if it is a foreign element. High levels of TPO can still correlate with normal TSH levels.
Reverse T3 is a byproduct of T4. Although it cannot perform the same metabolic activity as T3, it can be used as an adaptive mechanism. This can be especially important if a patient is experiencing stress, surgery, or even malnutrition.
Why Would I Need These Tests
The thyroid gland‘s hormones help control some of your body’s metabolic processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. Too much or too little of these hormones can make you ill.
You might need thyroid tests if:
- you have symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
- you are taking some form of thyroid hormone replacement treatment
- you are female and being investigated for infertility
Very rarely, babies are born without a working thyroid gland. For this reason, all Australian newborns are screened for hypothyroidism with a TSH test using a drop of blood taken from a heel prick.
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When To Seek Help
Many thyroid conditions present with a wide-range of vague symptoms. While feeling under the weather is a normal occurrence at some point, long periods of persistent symptoms may be an indication of something more serious.
If you are experiencing lethargy, bulging eyes, depression, hair thinning, tremors, or an enlarged thyroid gland, visiting an endocrinologist can help. Most people have a variety of symptoms and do not exhibit every discomfort.
Medical professionals can help diagnose thyroid complications. By administering a blood test, they can detect hormone irregularities in the body. This is a short test and results are usually ready within one to two weeks. Call us at .
What Is A Full Thyroid Panel
A full thyroid panel is a specific test that is used in order to evaluate the function of your thyroid gland and also to help diagnose hypo/hyperthyroidism as a result of various thyroid conditions. A full thyroid panel includes tests that help evaluate Thyroid-stimulating hormone , free and total triiodothyronine , free and total thyroxine , and thyroid antibody test.
The Thyroid-stimulating hormone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland which function is to stimulate the production and release of the T3 and T4 hormones, which are normally produced in the thyroid gland
Free and total triiodothyronine
Free and total thyroxine
Thyroid antibody test In many cases of hypo/hyperthyroidism, the lymphocytes, which are the blood cells created by our immune system and released in the blood circulation with the function to protect our body from any viruses and bacteria by creating their antibodies, now create antibodies against their own thyroid. These antibodies will either stimulate or harm the thyroid gland and its function. Two main thyroid antibodies are usually found in a case of hypo/hyperthyroidism are thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin.
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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.