What Can A Thyroid Test Detect
- What Can a Thyroid Test Detect?
When most people hear about the thyroid, they associate it with the inability to lose or gain weight, but it is responsible for much more than that.
In fact, hormones made by the thyroid can impact how quickly your heart beats, how deep you breathe, your body temperature, womens menstrual cycles and cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, more than 12 percent of people will deal with a thyroid problem in their life, with women being more likely to deal with this issue than men.
Heres what you need to know about the thyroid and what a test can detect.
What Causes Thyroid Disease
The two main types of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both conditions can be caused by other diseases that impact the way the thyroid gland works.
Conditions that can cause hypothyroidism include:
- Thyroiditis: This condition is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis can lower the amount of hormones your thyroid produces.
- Hashimotos thyroiditis: A painless disease, Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition where the bodys cells attack and damage the thyroid. This is an inherited condition.
- Postpartum thyroiditis: This condition occurs in 5% to 9% of women after childbirth. Its usually a temporary condition.
- Iodine deficiency: Iodine is used by the thyroid to produce hormones. An iodine deficiency is an issue that affects several million people around the world..
- A non-functioning thyroid gland: Sometimes, the thyroid gland doesnt work correctly from birth. This affects about 1 in 4,000 newborns. If left untreated, the child could have both physical and mental issues in the future. All newborns are given a screening blood test in the hospital to check their thyroid function.
Conditions that can cause hyperthyroidism include:
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.
This is an important test that I recommend getting every time you check your thyroid function.
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 signal 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 under- or overmedicating them!
Most conventional practitioners will stop further thyroid testing when they determine the TSH is normal .
Recommended test: TSH
Recommended Reading: Doctors Who Specialize In Thyroid
Who Should Get Testing
Thyroid function testing is often ordered when patients have symptoms of a thyroid disorder. Testing can assist with diagnosing or ruling out thyroid problems as a cause of a patients symptoms.
Many of the symptoms of common thyroid problems are nonspecific, meaning that there is a wide range of diseases and disorders which may cause them. Thyroid function testing may be included with other tests to evaluate a patient who is having trouble with a nonspecific symptom like fatigue, depression, or difficulty becoming or staying pregnant.
The table below provides examples of symptoms associated with thyroid disorders:
- Family history of thyroid disease
- Personal history of type I diabetes
- Personal history of autoimmune disease
- Personal history of radiation to the head and neck
Other experts do not recommend routine screening for thyroid disorders in adults. The United States Preventive Services Task Force, which issues screening recommendations, has concluded that there is currently not enough evidence to assess the benefits and drawbacks of screening for thyroid disorders.
Thyroid function tests are also used for treatment monitoring. Patients with known thyroid disorders will have periodic thyroid function testing to ensure their treatment is effective.
What Types Of Thyroid Gland Disorders Occur In Dogs
The most common dysfunction of the thyroid gland in dogs is associated with decreased production of thyroid hormones. This condition is called hypothyroidism .
Hypothyroidism in the dog usually occurs due to one of two main causes, which are lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy . These two causes account for approximately 95% of the cases of hypothyroidism. With either cause, the thyroid gland eventually is unable to make sufficient thyroid hormone.
The remaining causes of thyroid hormone disorders are rare, and include failure of the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce adequate hormone , as well as congenital defects in thyroid hormone production, and cancer of the thyroid gland.
Read Also: Thyroid Cancer In The Neck
Who Does Thyroiditis Affect
Thyroiditis can affect anyone, but it more commonly affects people assigned female at birth especially adults.
Hashimotos thyroiditis is four to 10 times more common in people AFAB than in people assigned male at birth . It most often develops in people AFAB between the age of 30 to 50.
Silent or painless thyroiditis is also common in people AFAB and is the next common cause of thyroiditis after Hashimotos thyroiditis.
Lab Tests Of Biopsy Samples
In some cases, doctors might use molecular tests to look for specific gene changes in the cancer cells. This might be done for different reasons:
- If FNA biopsy results arent clear, the doctor might order lab tests on the samples to see if there are changes in the BRAF or RET/PTC genes. Finding one of these changes makes thyroid cancer much more likely.
- For some types of thyroid cancer, molecular tests might be done to see if the cancer cells have changes in certain genes , which could mean that certain targeted drugs might be helpful in treating the cancer.
These tests can be done on tissue taken during a biopsy or surgery for thyroid cancer. If the biopsy sample is too small and all the molecular tests cant be done, the testing may also be done on blood that is taken from a vein, just like a regular blood draw.
Also Check: Location Of The Thyroid Gland
How Does The Thyroid Affect The Body
A well-working thyroid affects the body by maintaining the following functions:
- keeping the bodys temperature at a normal level
- supporting normal growth and cell turnover
- maintaining a normal heart rate
- burning calories in a regular and expected fashion
- maintaining bone breakdown and reabsorption
As a result, if your thyroid hormone production becomes imbalanced , your thyroid can potentially have a negative effect on your overall health.
Can Thyroiditis Be Prevented
Unfortunately, most cases of thyroiditis cant be prevented.
If you have a condition that requires treatment using radioactive iodine or radiation therapy, talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of thyroiditis. You may be able to start with other treatments to avoid developing thyroiditis.
If you take prescription drugs that can cause thyroiditis, talk to your provider about your risk and if you can stop taking them. You still may not be able to avoid thyroiditis.
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Drawing Blood For Thyroid Function Tests
Before you get a blood draw to check your thyroid levels, talk with your doctor about any medications youre taking. Also let them know 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 healthcare professional, like a technician or nurse, will tie a band of rubber tightly around your upper arm to make the veins swell with blood. Once the healthcare professional 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 healthcare professional will collect your blood in test tubes and send it to a laboratory for analysis.
When the healthcare professional 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. They will then place a small bandage over the wound.
You should be able to return to your typical daily activities immediately.
Can I Live A Normal Life With A Thyroid Disease
A thyroid disease is often a life-long medical condition that you will need to manage constantly. This often involves a daily medication. Your healthcare provider will monitor your treatments and make adjustments over time. However, you can usually live a normal life with a thyroid disease. It may take some time to find the right treatment option for you and control your hormone levels, but then people with these types of conditions can usually live life without many restrictions.
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Side Effects And Aftercare
A blood draw is a routine, minimally invasive procedure and doesnt have many side effects.
During the days immediately after the blood draw, you may notice slight bruising or soreness at the area where the needle was inserted. Placing an ice pack on the affected site or taking 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.
Should I Take Thyroid Tablets Before Thyroid Blood Test
If you are taking medicines for thyroid conditions to treat your thyroid disease, it is recommended that your blood sample be taken before you take your dose for that day. Have your medicine post the test. Always consult your doctor for such suggestions as they know your health condition best and might advise otherwise too.
Read Also: If Thyroid Levels Are High
Whats Included In A Full Thyroid Panel
A full thyroid panel usually checks thyroid-stimulating hormone , triiodothyronine , and thyroxine levels. In some cases, a blood test for thyroid function will also check your bloodâs level of TPO antibodies. If you have abnormal thyroid hormone levels, high levels of TPO antibodies can point to an autoimmune thyroid disease as a possible reason for those abnormal levels.
Should I Stop Taking My Thyroid Medication Before Thyroid Testing
Since Euthyrox or Synthroid behave exactly as normal human thyroid hormone, they are not rapidly cleared from the body as other medications are. Most thyroid pills have a half life of 6.7 days which means they must be stopped for four to five weeks before accurate thyroid testing is possible. An exception to the long half life of thyroid medication is Cytomel – a thyroid pill with a half life of only forty-eight hours. Therefore it is possible to change a person’s thyroid replacement to Cytomel for one month to allow time for his regular pills to clear the body. Cytomel is then stopped for ten days and the appropriate test can then be done. Usually patients, even those who have no remaining thyroid function, tolerate being off thyroid replacement only ten days quite well.
Take a quick look at for thyroid function tests
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What Should I Take Care Of After Getting Tested For Thyroid Hormones
Once the blood sample for thyroid test is drawn, you can return to normal activities, including driving. A simple thing that you can follow is to avoid strenuous activity with the arm from where the sample was taken for a few hours after the test. If you experience any pain or bleeding, apply ice packs
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 .
Read Also: How To Stop Thyroid Medication
Thyroid Testing: How It Works
Thyroid tests use a blood sample to measure various hormone levels. Thyroid-stimulating hormone , for example, is often measured to indirectly check if your thyroid gland is producing enough thyroid hormones. TSH levels are usually higher than normal if you have an underactive thyroid .
Thyroid function tests can also measure thyroid hormones like thyroxine to provide a better understanding of how low â or how high â your thyroid hormone levels are.
When To Get A Thyroid Scan
There are four main purposes that thyroid scans are used for. If your doctor orders one, itâs likely for one of these reasons:
To identify thyroid nodules and determining if they are âhotâ or âcold.â
To measure the size of a goiter prior to treatment.
As part of the follow-up after youâve had surgery for thyroid cancer.
To locate thyroid tissue outside the neck, such as the base of the tongue or in the chest.
Top 10 Thyroid Tests And How To Interpret Them
Medically reviewed and written by Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP
In my clinical experience, Ive seen many cases of thyroid problems go undiagnosed because most doctors dont perform a comprehensive test panel.
I spent almost a decade undiagnosed because I only had one marker tested. My thyroid condition was missed completely, leading me to deal with needless mystery symptoms like chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, and many others, for far too long!
I still have a copy of my lab results from 2008, before I was diagnosed with Hashimotos. At that time, I was desperately searching for a reason behind my exhaustion, hair loss, anxiety, and digestive issues. According to this lab report, my TSH was at 4.5 IU/mL, yet there was a note written from the doctor declaring: Your thyroid function is normal, no need to do anything. Perhaps a TSH of 4.5 IU/mL would have been normal for a 95-year-old woman, but I was 25 and sleeping 12+ hours a night to feel rested!
Of course, even as a pharmacist, I didnt think to question the doctor and most people dont. If you suspect that you may have a thyroid condition, or know someone who does, this article will go over all of the most helpful tests that can help you identify a thyroid condition.
This article will also teach you how to understand your labs so that you can advocate for proper treatment for yourself.
In this article, Ill go over:
The Role Of Thyroid Function Tests
Thyroid function testing can be used in several ways, including:
- Screening: Screening means testing for disease in the absence of symptoms. All newborns in the United States are routinely screened for an underactive thyroid. Some adults may also be screened for thyroid disorders, although not all experts agree that this is beneficial.
- Diagnosis: Diagnostic thyroid function testing aims to find the cause of a persons symptoms. Thyroid function testing can reveal whether the thyroid gland is functioning normally or abnormally and what specific disorder a person may have.
- Treatment monitoring: Thyroid blood tests provide valuable information about whether treatment for thyroid disorders is working as it should or if it needs adjustment.
For Prepaid Shipping: Everlywell Thyroid Test
This test checks TSH, T3, and T4 levels and screens for thyroid antibodies.
Everlywell offers prepaid shipping both ways, digital and printable results, and a follow-up consultation.
The company recommends the test for:
- people over the age of 50 years
- people who have been pregnant in the last 6 months
- people who have had lithium treatment for 6 or more months
- people who have had iodine exposure or deficiency
- people who smoke
- people who have had radiation exposure, especially around the neck
Individuals will receive their test results within 57 working days of the laboratory processing their sample.
The company accepts flexible spending account and health savings account payments.
Whats Included In A Thyroid Panel
If your healthcare provider is unsure what has gone awry with your thyroid, a full thyroid panel can help point toward whats causing your symptoms. It is a simple blood test. You dont need to do anything to prepare. Typically, it involves testing:
If youve already been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, typically testing is more specific. Most endocrinologists are targeted with what they order, rather than sending a general thyroid panel, explains Aleem Kanji, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist with Ethos Endocrinology in Houston, Texas. The specific labs chosen are based on the persons diagnosis, treatment, and/or required monitoring.
Do I Need To Fast For My Thyroid Test
Usually,no special precautions including fasting need to be followed before taking a thyroid test. However, your pathologist can guide you better. For example, if you have to undergo some other health tests along with thyroid hormone levels, you may be asked to fast for 8-10 hours. Drinking water doesnt come under violation of fasting.