Ordering Your Own Thyroid Blood Tests
In most states in the U.S., and some areas outside the U.S., you can order and pay for your own thyroid tests. Some people use this approach to get testing done.
It may be more affordable to have your tests done through your healthcare provider, however. Sometimes, your insurance plan may limit the tests they will pay for.
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 your symptoms.
Many of the symptoms of common thyroid problems are nonspecific there is a wide range of diseases and disorders which may cause them. Thyroid function testing may be included with other tests to evaluate if you are having trouble with a non-specific symptom like fatigue, depression, or difficulty becoming or staying pregnant.
In addition to being used for diagnosis, thyroid function tests may be performed to screen for thyroid disease in patients who have no symptoms. Newborn infants are routinely screened for hypothyroidism shortly after birth.
Screening for thyroid disease in adults is controversial. Some experts recommend screening certain groups who are at higher risk of having an underactive thyroid. These risk factors may include:
- 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 U.S. 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.
What Is Thyroid Function Testing
A number of blood tests may be used to learn if your thyroid gland is working normally. These function tests reveal if your thyroid is producing the right amount of thyroid hormones. Thyroid blood tests may be ordered:
- To check for thyroid disease before it causes symptoms, especially in newborns
- To diagnose an underactive or overactive thyroid
- To determine if an underlying disorder, such as Hashimotos thyroiditis, Graves disease, thyrotoxicosis, or thyroid inflammation, may be causing an underactive or overactive thyroid
- To evaluate a lump on the thyroid gland, called a thyroid nodule
- To evaluate an enlargement of the thyroid gland, called a goiter
- To monitor treatment for thyroid disorders
Understanding how your thyroid is functioning enables your doctor to treat a thyroid disorder if one is present.
Order your own lab tests online: its secure and easy.
- Step 2:
Select your lab tests and location or purchase an at-home kit.
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How The Thyroid Works
Just as the thyroid gland communicates with other organs through the hormone it produces, the pituitary gland in the brain communicates with the thyroid through a hormone it makesthyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. When the pituitary senses that thyroid hormone levels are too low, it releases more TSH to coax the thyroid into action. When the thyroid is nudged by TSH, it produces thyroid hormonea large proportion of which is thyroxine and a smaller proportion triiodothyronine . The T4 is eventually converted into T3, the “active” form that is taken up by receptors in body cells.
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What You Can Do
If you have definite symptoms of hypothyroidism, you should talk to your clinician about being tested. If your LDL cholesterol has been advancing or your weight has been creeping up unexplainably, you’ll want to discuss getting a test. If you’re 60 or older and generally healthy, it’s still a good idea to check with your doctor to see whether your medical history suggests you might benefit from testing.
Signs Of Thyroid Trouble
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists estimates that 30 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disorder. Thats a surprising number but even more startling is that up to 50% of people with thyroid disease arent even aware that they have it.
Its common for people to chalk up some thyroid symptoms fatigue, irritability, sleep problems to general life stress, says Tiffany Hor, MD, an endocrinologist at Rush.
Such nonspecific symptoms are often easy to ignore, but the consequences of postponing diagnosis and treatment can be serious: Over the long term, untreated thyroid issues can lead to health complications ranging from an increased risk of osteoporosis to cardiovascular issues.
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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:
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Is A Thyroid Neck Check Accurate
A 2017 report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that feeling the neck for lumps detected thyroid nodules in only 11.6% of cases. Ultrasound, an imaging procedure using sound waves, was five times more accurate at finding abnormal thyroid growths.
This article will go over how to do a thyroid swallowing test at home to check your thyroid. It will also help you decide when to see a provider about something you find on a thyroid neck check.
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Is This Happening To You
Lets take all of this and make it very simple.
Look at the list of factors that can affect how your D1 and D2 will function in your body. If you suffer with one or more of these factors, then your thyroid tests can look normal to your doctor.
Your TSH may look normal or even on the low-end. When most doctors see TSH on the low end, they assume you are making too much thyroid hormone.
Your T4 levels will also look normal or be on the low end of normal .
Lastly, your T3 levels will be high in the pituitary gland but will be normal or low-normal on you blood tests.
In summary your TSH will be normal and your T4 will be normal and your T3, if it is tested at all will be normal. And when I say normal this is based on the levels determined by the laboratory that performed the testing. You can be in a state of low thyroid function and suffer the effects of low thyroid function and your blood tests will all be normal.
Medical History And Physical Exam
If you have any signs or symptoms that suggest you might have thyroid cancer, your health care professional will want to know your complete medical history. You will be asked questions about your possible risk factors, symptoms, and any other health problems or concerns. If someone in your family has had thyroid cancer or tumors called pheochromocytomas, it is important to tell your doctor, as you might be at high risk for this disease.
Your doctor will examine you to get more information about possible signs of thyroid cancer and other health problems. During the exam, the doctor will pay special attention to the size and firmness of your thyroid and any enlarged lymph nodes in your neck.
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What Is The Thyroid
The thyroid is a small gland below the skin and muscles at the front of the neck, at the spot where a bow tie would rest. It makes two types of thyroid hormones: T3 and T4 . It helps the body do many things, such as get energy from food, grow, and go through sexual development.
The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the bottom of the brain that makes thyroid stimulating hormone . TSH triggers the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland and the thyroid gland send messages back and forth to each other about how much hormone to make to keep the levels normal.
Why Would I Need These Tests
The thyroid glandâs hormones help control some of your bodyâs 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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S To Ensure That Your Lab Tests Are Reliable
If you are new to the thyroid game then be sure to read through this article slowly because following these rules will allow you to get the most ACCURATE results possible on your lab tests.
What if you’ve done some of these things but not all of them?
My recommendation is to follow all of these rules for at least one set of thyroid lab tests.
This set of labs will then become your baseline which you can accurately compare future lab tests to.
With this in mind, let’s talk about how to accurately check your thyroid lab tests and what you should be doing…
#1. Get the full thyroid lab panel.
Your first step, if you are serious about testing your thyroid accurately, is to get the COMPLETE thyroid lab panel.
Many patients have never actually had this complete set of thyroid lab tests.
They are often surprised to know that there are thyroid tests that exist outside of the typical TSH and free T4.
The reason for this is complicated and has to do with the fact that most doctors don’t think that these other tests are necessary.
I disagree with this notion for many reasons but probably the most pressing issue is the simple fact that so many thyroid patients are suffering despite receiving ‘treatment’.
How can you base treatment on an incomplete picture and why wouldn’t you order all of the tests available for the thyroid if you can?
The concept that you need to test more than just the TSH may be foreign to many of you but it’s incredibly important.
#2. Check your labs at 8:00 am.
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 thyroid function 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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What Do The Results Mean
Your TSH test results can tell you if your thyroid is making too much or too little thyroid. But the test canât explain why your TSH levels may be too high or too low.
If your test results arenât normal, your provider will probably order other thyroid blood tests to find out whatâs causing your thyroid problem. These blood tests may include:
- Thyroid antibodies test to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disorder, such as:
- Gravesâ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism
- Hashimotoâs disease, that the most common cause of hypothyroidism
In certain cases, an abnormal TSH result may be a sign of a pituitary gland problem, but this doesnât happen often.
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What More Should I Know About Thyroid Blood Tests
Ranges noted here are approximate your providers may differ slightly. Its important that you remember abnormal readings do not necessarily mean a thyroid disorder is present, as each test can be affected by a variety of factors.
No preparation is required for these tests. They can be taken any time of day without fasting.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/27/2019.
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Why Consider This Test
Specific Thyroid Concerns
Tests that measure both TSH and T4 can be used together to screen for and help diagnose thyroid conditions, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism .2
Female Health and Fertility
Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism is a leading cause of difficulty in achieving and maintaining pregnancy.2
Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility. Most thyroid conditions can be managed with medication.2
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.
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What Are Different Types Of Blood Tests That Are Thyroid
There are multiple other blood tests related to the thyroid that you can get. These blood tests are usually the ones that doctors require for initial testing. However, the in-depth investigation of your case might require other thyroid blood tests, which your doctor will recommend.
What Causes Thyroid Disease
Various reasons cause an imbalance of hormone production in your thyroid glands. A few of them can cause hypothyroidism, and others may cause hyperthyroidism.
2. Hyperthyroidism: it is when the thyroid glands produce hormones above the normal range. The leading cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease, where your glands lose control over the production of hormones. Another cause can be thyroiditis. It is inflammation in your thyroid glands that usually occurs after pregnancy in women. TSH having abnormal secretion and excessive taking of thyroid hormones are other reasons to cause hyperthyroidism.
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