If you are feeling frustrated when it comes to getting your thyroid tested you are not alone.
Today I answer one of the most popular questions I get asked. ‘What are the best thyroid tests to ask for when I see my doctor’?
Here’s What You Need To Know About Thyroid Testing
Getting your thyroid checked properly is quite possibly one of the most important things you can do. You see, comprehensive testing will tell you exactly how well your thyroid is functioning.
These are the thyroid tests to ask for:
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
- Free Thyroxine (FT4).
- Free Triiodothyronine (FT3).
- Reverse T3 (RT3).
- Anti-thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb).
- Anti-thyroperoxidase (TPO) antibodies.
Is The Single TSH Test Useful?
The single TSH test is widely considered the gold standard for assessing thyroid function. In fact, you may be told TSH is the only test required to check thyroid health.
To clarify, this test measures the amount of TSH circulating in the bloodstream. But did you know TSH is not produced by the thyroid? It’s made in the pituitary gland, located deep within the brain.
TSH travels to the thyroid via the bloodstream to trigger a response within the thyroid. In effect, TSH is an important ‘messenger hormone’ as it’s main job is to stimulate thyroid hormone production within the thyroid.
As you can imagine, TSH is NOT a reliable indicator of overall thyroid function.
Let me explain more…
Four Of The Biggest Drawbacks To The Single TSH Test
1. You Need More Than TSH Tested
Whenever I hear people say they have been told their thyroid is NORMAL my first thought is…yes, but what was tested? All too often individuals are told their thyroid is normal after only testing TSH.
Sure, testing levels of TSH is important but you definitely want more than this tested. It’s therefore wise to check if more than TSH was done.
2. The TSH Test Has a Wide ‘Normal’ Reference Range
Is the ‘normal’ range for TSH the same for everyone?
No, it is not. The problem is, ‘normal’ does not mean optimal. The medically accepted reference range is simply based on what would be acceptable for most people.
What’s more, a very wide reference range is used so a result within the established reference range can be misleading. Current research reveals TSH should ideally be between 0.5 and 2.0 mIU/L.
3. The Single TSH Test FAILS to Check Thyroid Hormone Levels
Your TSH can appear ‘normal’ even when you are experiencing low thyroid symptoms. For this reason, you should also check free thyroxine (T4) and free triiodothyronine (T3) which are the main hormones produced by your thyroid.
Specifying ‘free’ is an important point. Testing ‘free’ T4 and T3 tells you how much of these thyroid hormones are unbound, and therefore free to do their job.
Furthermore, testing both reveals how well T4 is converting through to T3. It’s critical that your body can efficiently convert T4 to T3 as low T3 is often associated with hypothyroid symptoms.
4. The TSH Test Does Not Screen For Possible Autoimmune Attack
This is a very important point as autoimmune thyroid disorders are very common, especially among women. It’s important to know Hashimoto’s thyroidits is the most common hypothyroid autoimmune disorder.
These are the two tests you need as raised thyroid antibodies are used to diagnosis a possible autoimmune thyroid disorder;
– Thyroid peroxidase Abs (TPO Ab)
– Antithyroglobulin Abs (ATG Ab)
Once you have your thyroid test results, take a close look to see if your antibodies are elevated. If you receive a positive result it means thyroid antibodies are present in the blood at the time of testing, and it’s therefore likely your thyroid is under autoimmune attack.
Do You Get All Five Thyroid Tests Done?
Have you been told your thyroid test results are normal but continue to struggle with a long list of hypothyroid symptoms? Or do you have a diagnosed thyroid disorder and still feel unwell despite taking medication every day? You need proper testing!
Comprehensive testing can make all the difference…it provides invaluable insights into overall thyroid function, and helps with a proper diagnosis. If your doctor is unwilling to run all the tests you require I suggest you get proactive and order your own tests online! Companies such as iscreen, Australia or True Health Labs, USA offer comprehensive testing.
Please note this post contains affiliate links. This means that a special tracking code is used and I may make a small commission if you click through and order the thyroid tests you need. The price of the tests is the same for you whether an affiliate link is used or not, and using affiliate links helps me to maintain this website. To find out more about my affiliate policy please refer to my Terms of Service.