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.
Your Menstrual Cycle Is Messed Up
If you are having problems with your period, you may assume that you have issues with your reproductive system. But it could be your thyroid causing those issues, rather than your uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes. The Mayo Clinic lists “heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods” as symptoms of hypothyroidism and “changes in menstrual patterns” as possibly indicating hyperthyroidism.
Dr. Ali told me you may want to get your thyroid checked if you are experiencing menstrual cycle changes, and Dr. Block said that “irregular periods can often represent a thyroid problem, either overactive or underactive.”
You Have Depression Memory Issues Nervousness Or Irritability
This is one of the most frustrating things about not being diagnosed with a thyroid issue. You may be depressed, have memory issues, or be annoyed or panicky all the time, and you think it’s psychological instead of physical. Dr. Romy Block, a Chicago-area endocrinologist, told me that “mood changes ” can indicate that your thyroid is out of whack. The Mayo Clinic cites depression as a symptom of hypothyroidism, but it can also manifest in hyperthyroidism, as one counselor wrote in Psychology Today, and as a patient case study on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website shows.
Other things to look out for include “nervousness, anxiety and irritability,” which the Mayo Clinic says may be a sign of hyperthyroidism. And Dr. Block told me that “a common symptom of hypothyroidism is memory loss,” so if you feel like you’re being too forgetful these days, there might be a reason.
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What To Consider When Searching For An At
In your search for an at-home thyroid test, decide what is most important for your needs. Most tests measure TSH and T4 levels. You may need further tests that measure levels such as T3, T7, TSI, and antibodies. Find out what types of recommendations for additional testing or treatment plans each company offers.
At-home tests can be considered if you have symptoms that cause you to suspect a thyroid disorder. You may also want to test your thyroid levels after implementing lifestyle changes, starting a new medication, or beginning a treatment plan. Its also a good idea to do a home test if you are at risk of developing a thyroid disorder.
At-home thyroid tests offer plenty of advantages and drawbacks to consider.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
In the past, panels of tests were more common. More recently, however, the practice has been to order, where possible, one initial or screening test and then follow up with additional testing, if needed, to reduce the number of unnecessary tests. With thyroid testing, one strategy is to screen with a TSH test and then order additional tests if the results are abnormal or if clinical suspicions warrant.
Your thyroid hormone test results can be affected by:
- Increases, decreases, and changes in the proteins that bind T4 and T3
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Stay Aware Of Changes
Because symptoms of thyroid disease can be attributed to other concerns, it can be hard to tell if theres a problem. Look into your health history for clues and see a doctor if you have symptoms. Your doctor may want to check your neck for thyroid nodules or order blood tests.
The severity of your symptoms and potential cause will dictate the next course of action. There is no official cure for thyroid disease, but with managed care, there are a number of effective treatments that can restore thyroid function.
Why Having A Correctly Working Thyroid Matters
Since the thyroid regulates so much of our body, it is important to have it working correctly to have optimum health. Dr. Goldfarb told me that when it comes to your thyroid, some “mild thyroid conditions that are not treated for many years can affect your heart, bones, and other organ systems,” but that there are also “very mild abnormalities” that “may go unnoticed and don’t necessarily need to be treated.” She stressed that “symptoms that are caused by very abnormal thyroid hormones can also affect things like your energy level and productivity, which impacts your general health.”
In addition, “for women trying to get pregnant, having your thyroid hormones in normal range is important,” the physician said.
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Should I Exercise If I Have A Thyroid Disease
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. You do not need to change your exercise routine if you have a thyroid disease. Exercise does not drain your bodys thyroid hormones and it shouldnt hurt you to exercise. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before you start a new exercise routine to make sure that its a good fit for you.
Your Hair Is Thinning Or Brittle Dry And Fine
Most of the doctors I spoke with mentioned to pay attention to the state of your hair, as it can provide a clue as to the health of the rest of your body. The Mayo Clinic says that “fine, brittle hair” can be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, and “thinning hair” can indicate hypothyroidism. Dr. Goldfarb explained that “when your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormone,” you may experience hair loss. Dr. Dean said that you may have dry hair as well with hypothyroidism. “Your hair doesn’t grow as fast and your circulation is slowed down and doesn’t nourish your hair,” she explained.
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Do You Need A Thyroid Test
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, we recommend a range of tests that determine if you have a thyroid problem and whats causing it. We offer comprehensive support to help restore your thyroid function, such as lifestyle recommendations, nutritional supplements, and thyroid-replacement medication.
To learn more, call us today or use our online scheduling feature to book your appointment now.
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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.
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Too Much Or Too Little
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid produces too little of these hormones. This is the most commonly diagnosed form of thyroid disease, affecting nearly 5 percent of Americans. Although it can be hereditary, hypothyroidism is often triggered by autoimmune disorders such as Hashimotos or inflammation called thyroiditis. Symptoms can include:
Feeling cold when others do not
Weight gain, without eating more
Joint pain and muscle weakness
Your Thyroid Does Change As You Age
As with any organ, your thyroid may start to function differently as you get older.
Thyroid dysfunction generally occurs in either early adulthood or between the ages of 40 to 50, Lee said. As we get into our 70s, TSH naturally increases, meaning that your thyroid hormone levels may shift to be a little lower. This seems to happen to protect our bodies as we age, with less stress on our heart and metabolic system.
This is important to note, Lee said, because it gives physicians a greater threshold to treat someone who is older who may have higher TSH levels. Alternatively, low TSH levels can be more harmful the older we get.
This isnt to say that if youre young, you dont need to think about your thyroid at all. Thyroid disorders can happen at many different ages, as can lumps.
We do know that the younger population, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, can develop thyroid nodules, Rao said. The vast majority of these nodules, especially if theyre below one centimeter, are 95% of the time completely benign. But its still important to be aware that they are there, and periodically monitor them.
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You’re More Sensitive To Cold Or Heat Or You Sweat A Lot
Since one of the things the thyroid does is regulate body temperature, if it is malfunctioning, you may notice it with how you feel when it comes to the cold and heat. The Mayo Clinic cites both “sweating” and “increased sensitivity to heat” as symptoms of hyperthyroidism, while “increased sensitivity to cold” can be a sign of hypothyroidism.
Dr. Jason Cohen, a Los Angeles-based surgeon and expert in thyroid cancer treatment, told me that because “the thyroid maintains our homeostasis and keeps the body’s energy levels in check,” when it malfunctions, people may notice a difference in body temperature. When the “thyroid levels are low,” he said, “people typically feel cold all the time,” and when the levels are high, people may be “feeling hot or sweating.” So what women of a certain age may think of as menopausal hot flashes may have another cause.
Is There A Higher Risk Of Developing Thyroid Disease If I Have Diabetes
If you have diabetes, youre at a higher risk of developing a thyroid disease than people without diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. If you already have one autoimmune disorder, you are more likely to develop another one.
For people with type 2 diabetes, the risk is lower, but still there. If you have type 2 diabetes, youre more likely to develop a thyroid disease later in life.
Regular testing is recommended to check for thyroid issues. Those with type 1 diabetes may be tested more often immediately after diagnosis and then every year or so than people with type 2 diabetes. There isnt a regular schedule for testing if you have type 2 diabetes, however your healthcare provider may suggest a schedule for testing over time.
If you have diabetes and get a positive thyroid test, there are a few things to you can do to help feel the best possible. These tips include:
- Getting enough sleep.
- Taking all of your medications as directed.
- Getting tested regularly as directed by your healthcare provider.
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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.
Your Muscles Or Joints Feel Weak
Muscle weakness is another sign that could show that your thyroid is not working correctly. It can be a symptom of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. The Mayo Clinic also says that “muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness” and “pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints” may be signs of hypothyroidism.
If your muscles feel sluggish, Melanie Goldfarb, MD, MS, FACS, a California-based endocrine surgeon, told me that this could be a sign of hypothyroidism. She explained that “sluggishness ” could be a sign that “your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormone.”
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Simple Test Straightforward Treatment
The good news: Most thyroid problems are easy to diagnose with a simple blood test that measures your level of thyroid hormone. “The test is very reliable and very sensitive,” says Hor.
Treatments are often very straightforward as well. Hypothyroidism is frequently treated with an inexpensive synthetic thyroid hormone that’s taken orally and is usually very well tolerated.
Hyperthyroidism treatments are more varied but might include 12 to 18 months of an oral medication or a one-time dose of radioactive iodine .
Bottom line: “If youre feeling fine and your weight is stable, there’s no need to get checked,” says Hor. “But if you notice one or more of these symptoms, or if you have a family history of thyroid dysfunction, ask your primary care doctor whether you should be tested.”
Preparing For The Tests
You dont need to do anything special to prepare for the thyroid function tests. If a healthcare professional has ordered other blood tests to be taken at the same time, you may need to fast for several hours before the test. They will let you know of any special instructions to follow.
Otherwise, you will not need to follow any specific directions before the test.
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What Is Your Thyroid
The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck. Its part of the endocrine system and is responsible for regulating hormones throughout your body to help you sleep, give you energy, and help you stay warm.
The main hormones it produces are thyroxine and triiodothyronine , which control how your cells use energy. Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism through the release of these hormones.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesnt make enough T4, T3, or both. Its the most common thyroid condition, affecting 5% of the population worldwide, with another 5% who have the condition but havent been diagnosed.
In hyperthyroidism, the opposite occurs. The thyroid becomes too active and makes too much of the thyroid hormones.
Testing your thyroid levels at home is convenient and accurate when done correctly, and with the range of home test kits to choose from, you may find one that you like.
Read on to find out what thyroid tests are available and if theyre right for you.
Anyone can get their thyroid checked. However, certain populations can be at higher risk for thyroid disorders, including:
- people born with a uterus
- people with autoimmune disorders, including type 1 diabetes
- people with a history of thyroid disorders
- people who smoke
- people with a family history of thyroid disorders
Should I Get My Thyroid Checked
If you eat a healthy diet, exercise and get plenty of sleep, yet still involuntarily gain weight, feel fatigued or have trouble focusing, you may have a thyroid problem. Youre not alone. More than 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. Sixty percent of them will be women. Many thyroid issues go unchecked when patients dismiss symptoms as normal consequences of aging.
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How Is Thyroid Disease Treated
Your healthcare providers goal is to return your thyroid hormone levels to normal. This can be done in a variety of ways and each specific treatment will depend on the cause of your thyroid condition.
If you have high levels of thyroid hormones , treatment options can include:
- Anti-thyroid drugs : These are medications that stop your thyroid from making hormones.
- Radioactive iodine: This treatment damages the cells of your thyroid, preventing it from making high levels of thyroid hormones.
- Beta blockers: These medications dont change the amount of hormones in your body, but they help control your symptoms.
- Surgery: A more permanent form of treatment, your healthcare provider may surgically remove your thyroid . This will stop it from creating hormones. However, you will need to take thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of your life.
If you have low levels of thyroid hormones , the main treatment option is:
- Thyroid replacement medication: This drug is a synthetic way to add thyroid hormones back into your body. One drug thats commonly used is called levothyroxine. By using a medication, you can control thyroid disease and live a normal life.
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:
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