What Are Thyroid Blood Tests And Why Are They Taken
Thyroid blood tests are used to tell if your thyroid gland is functioning properly by measuring the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. They are done by withdrawing blood from a vein in your arm. These blood tests help to diagnose thyroid diseases.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front part of your neck. Its job is to produce thyroid hormones, which travel through your bloodstream and regulate many aspects of your bodys metabolism, including temperature, weight, and energy.
Thyroid blood tests show if you have:
- Hyperthyroidism: Overactive thyroid producing more thyroid hormones than your body needs. Hyperthyroidism speeds up your metabolism, which can cause weight loss, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, puffiness around the eyes, anxiety and other symptoms. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease.
- Hypothyroidism: Underactive thyroid producing too few thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism, which can cause weight gain, menstrual irregularity, dry and puffy skin, fatigue and other symptoms. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimotos disease.
Thyroid blood tests are used to diagnose thyroid disorders associated with hyper- or hypothyroidism. These include:
Best For Consultations: Letsgetchecked
- List price:$99 or $119, depending on the test
- Results time: 25 days
- Type of test: finger prick
- Insurance coverage: no insurance coverage
- Tests for antibodies: yes
- Medically reviewed: yes
LetsGetChecked offers two thyroid tests. One test measures the three main thyroid hormones: thyroid stimulating hormone , triiodothyronine , and thyroxine . The other test measures antibodies as well as hormone levels.
A person takes a finger-prick blood sample, then returns it to the company right away using the prepaid shipping label in the kit.
According to LetsGetChecked, the results are typically available in 25 days.
Pricing starts from $99 and people can also enroll onto the subscription option to save money and receive the test kit every three months.
The companys team of doctors and nurses review the results and contact the customers to discuss what their results mean. They can discuss any concerns and advise about next steps if the result is positive.
- results available in 25 days
- guidance from a healthcare professional if the result is positive
What Is The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroids job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.
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Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test
A radioactive iodine uptake test, also called a thyroid uptake test, can help check thyroid function and find the cause of hyperthyroidism. The thyroid takes up iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones, which is why this is called an uptake test. Your health care professional may ask you to avoid foods high in iodine, such as kelp, or medicines containing iodine for a week before the test.
For this test, you will swallow a small amount of radioactive iodine in liquid or capsule form. During the test, you will sit in a chair while a technician places a device called a gamma probe in front of your neck, near your thyroid gland. The probe measures how much radioactive iodine your thyroid takes up from your blood. Measurements are often taken 4 to 6 hours after you swallow the radioactive iodine and again at 24 hours. The test takes only a few minutes.
If your thyroid collects a large amount of radioactive iodine, you may have Graves disease, or one or more nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. You may have this test at the same time as a thyroid scan.
Even though the test uses a small amount of radiation and is thought to be safe, you should not have this test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Getting Your Thyroid Checked Can Be A New Beginning
If you have some of the symptoms listed, and you just don’t feel right, you might want to talk to your physician about it and have your thyroid checked. If your thyroid is the issue, there are a variety of treatments out there that can potentially improve your health and quality of life. It does get better.
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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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How To Order Your Lab Tests
If your doctor is ordering 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 Labs and can be ordered almost 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.
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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.
How To Read Thyroid Test Results
A blood test showing a high level of TSH and low T4 may be an indicator that a person has hypothyroidism.
Higher levels of TSH and T4 levels in a typical range may mean that a person is at risk of developing hypothyroidism in the future.
People who receive results that show they have low levels of TSH and higher levels of T3 or T4 is an indicator that they have hyperthyroidism.
However, it is important to discuss any at-home thyroid test results with a healthcare professional to ensure a person is interpreting the results correctly.
If a persons symptoms persist, they should contact a healthcare professional.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
If symptoms indicate a thyroid disorder, but the result of an at-home test is negative, contact a doctor for advice.
Below are answers to some common questions about at-home thyroid tests.
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The Role Of Thyroid Function Tests
Thyroid function testing can be used in several ways, including:
- Diagnosis this testing aims to find the cause of symptoms. Thyroid function testing can reveal whether the thyroid gland is functioning normally or abnormally and what specific disorder you may have.
- Screening this is testing for disease in the absence of symptoms. All newborns in the U.S. 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.
- Monitoring thyroid blood tests provide valuable information about whether treatment for thyroid disorders is working as it should or if it needs adjustment.
Why Would Someone Use An At
First, the kits might be an easy way to get a first glance at your thyroid health, especially if you have a sneaking suspicion that something could be off.
The kits are a great option for anyone looking to get more information on their thyroid function. They can be ordered by the consumer rather than having to go to a doctor to send your lab requisition, says endocrinolgist Sapna Shah MD of Paloma Health.
People experience all types of side effects from poor thyroid health, and starting with a thyroid screening can help to narrow things down and get to the root of the issue, Dr. Shapiro adds. On the flip side, theyre also for people who might already have a diagnosed condition and require regular lab results, he also notes.
When getting to a lab is difficult at-home tests can be a nice way to access care and information, says Dr. Shah.
And then theres the aspect of social distancing and safety: People are leaning towards at-home treatments now more than ever because of COVID, Dr. Shapiro says. Staying out of busy waiting rooms is a good enough reason alone.
At-home thyroid tests can also help cut down on costs and co-pays, as the test itself can be bought for a single fee. For example, the Everlywell kit tests for three main thyroid hormones: TSH, T3, and T4, as well as thyroid antibodies. It costs $99, which could be less than a doctors visit, copay, lab costs, or any potential out-of-network fees, depending on your health coverage.
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Signs You Should Get Your Thyroid Checked
One tiny gland in your body that weighs under one ounce can put you into a world of hurt if it is not working correctly. That would be the thyroid gland. The Mayo Clinic notes that your thyroid “is located at the base of your neck, just below the Adam’s apple.” The gland contains hormones that regulate multiple functions in your body, including your metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. So if it malfunctions, you can have a variety of health issues.
There are two basic ways your thyroid gland can go awry, according to EndocrineWeb.com: hyperthyroidism, in which the gland produces too much thyroid hormone, and hypothyroidism, in which it produces too little. These disorders can be caused by a variety of issues and are more common in women than in men, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Here are the symptoms you should watch out for that can show that the gland is overactive or underactive.
How Does Thyroid Testing Work
Thyroid problems can be more harmful than you think. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, they can lead to serious health problems. Thats why we offer thyroid testing at Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY, so we can help address your health concerns. We can prevent severe medical problems from occurring in the first place by providing you with a variety of professional diagnostic equipment, techniques, as well as new technologies.
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How Do You Get A Thyroid Test Without A Doctor
To get a thyroid test without a doctor, order a test from an online supplier. After receiving your testing kit in the mail, collect a sample and send it to the lab. Most companies provide you with digital test results within a week.
Youll still need to visit a doctor to analyze your results and receive a diagnosis. Dont change your medication or treatment plan based on home test results.
Normal And Abnormal Tsh Ranges
0.4 mU/L to 4.0 mU/L is considered the , and people who have a normally functioning thyroid gland usually fall within this range.
If TSH measures more than 4.0 mU/L, a second test is performed to verify the results. TSH of more than 4.0/mU/L with a low T4 level indicates hypothyroidism.
If your TSH is more than 4.0 mU/L and your T4 level is normal, this may prompt your physician to test your serum anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies. When these antibodies are present, it may indicate an autoimmune thyroid disorder, which is a risk factor for developing hypothyroidism. If you have these antibodies, your doctor will most likely perform a TSH test at least once per year.
An easy way to remember how the thyroid worksthink about supply and demand. As the T4 level falls, the TSH rises. As the T4 level rises, the TSH falls. However, not everyone with hypothyroidism has elevated levels of TSH.
If your pituitary gland is not working properly, it may not send out normal TSH amountsand if this is the casethe thyroid may be healthy. However, if the amount of TSH is off, the thyroid wont make the right amount of T4. This is rare and is known as secondary or central hypothyroidism.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Contact a doctor if your test results are abnormal, which could indicate a thyroid disorder. If your results are normal, you may want to see a doctor if you have any health concerns, symptoms of a thyroid disorder, or a personal or family history of thyroid conditions.
You can also visit your doctor to discuss or interpret your test results. They can confirm the results of your home test, which may include a diagnosis of a thyroid condition. Your doctor can also recommend treatments, additional tests, and any lifestyle changes.
See a doctor if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, which may include:
How Does A Thyroid 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 thyroid-stimulating hormone levels 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.
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Monitor Your Iron Intake
Iron is one of the most important minerals for the thyroid to let it function properly. The lack of it may trigger some problems, including hair loss. Consider having iron-rich foods like beans, red meat, seafood, green leafy veggies, dried fruits, eggs, and so on. Along with iron, make sure to have other nutrients like zinc, biotin, vitamins, lysine, and selenium, as they can boost hair growth.
How Does A Blood Test For Hypothyroidism Work
How to test for hypothyroidism?
Itâs important to note that there is no hypothyroidism test that can check thyroid hormones andâbased only on those test resultsâconclusively determine if someone has hypothyroidism. Thatâs because both thyroid hormone testing and a physicianâs evaluation of symptoms and medical history is required for a diagnosis.
A blood test for hypothyroidism is based on your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone and the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Because TSH signals the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones, unusually high levels of TSH can mean that your thyroid isnât making enough hormones.
A thyroid lab test might also measure T3 and T4 to reveal just how low your thyroid hormone levels are, which can help your healthcare provider decide on a treatment strategy.
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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.