Firstly, it’s important to know the single thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test doesn’t assess overall thyroid function. If you’ve already taken this test and it showed everything was NORMAL keep reading as I list the top 5 thyroid tests that will help you discover what’s really going on with your thyroid.
How Effective is The Basic TSH Test?
The basic TSH lab test is used by most doctors to check thyroid function. But it doesn’t give you the full picture. Let me explain more.
TSH is an important messenger hormone. But did you know this hormone is not actually produced by the thyroid?
TSH is made in the pituitary which is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea that’s located deep within the brain. When the pituitary releases TSH it travels to the thyroid via the bloodstream to stimulate production of the thyroid hormones. The thyroid responds by getting busy making important thyroid hormones such as T4 and triiodothyronine (T3).
As you would expect, more TSH is released when the body needs to step up production of your thyroid hormones. For this reason, a high TSH result indicates a hypothyroid disorder.
The ‘Test TSH First’ Strategy
You may be told no further investigation is necessary when your TSH result falls within the standard reference range. The problem is, a hypothyroid issue is easily missed when you only run the single TSH test. It’s the reason a ‘normal’ result can be so misleading.
If you suspect you’re struggling with hypothyroidism it’s vital to discuss your concerns with a thyroid-literate doctor. Ideally you will get a complete thyroid panel done, and other important diagnostic tests.
Here’s What’s Included In A Complete Thyroid Panel
- A complete thyroid panel tests TSH along with free T4 (FT4), free T3 (FT3), reverse T3 (RT3), and thyroid antibodies.
- Testing free T4 and T3 can tell you how much of these thyroid hormones are ‘free’ and available to the body. It also tells you how much T4 is converting to the more potent T3.
- Low T3 can indicate under-conversion of T4 to T3. T3 acts on almost every cell and organ in the body. So this is why low T3 leads to a range of hypothyroid symptoms.
- Proper interpretation of thyroid function tests requires an understanding of thyroid physiology. To get a reliable diagnosis a thyroid-literate doctor will also take a full medical history, discuss your symptoms, and perform a physical examination of your neck.
WHY Test ‘Reverse T3’ (What Does This Tell You)?
If you’ve been under enormous stress, or have been feeling unwell for some time you should check reverse T3. In fact, I believe the reverse T3 blood test is essential to effectively diagnose, and manage hypothyroidism.
Reverse T3 is an inhibitory hormone that triggers symptoms commonly associated with a sluggish thyroid. It’s important to know that only a specific test for reverse T3 can identify high levels in the blood.
I explain the top five reasons why the body creates excess reverse T3 here on this blog post: The Top Five Reasons Why Your Body Creates Excess Reverse T3.
How To Check If Your Thyroid Is Under Autoimmune Attack
The #1 reason to test thyroid antibodies is that levels accurately reflect the degree of autoimmune stress within the thyroid. An autoimmune thyroid disorder creates inflammation which can lead to destruction, and loss of function of the thyroid.
The Top 5 Thyroid Tests You Need To Know About
In summary, the top 5 thyroid tests includes:
- Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
- free T4 (FT4)
- free T3 (FT3)
- thyroid antibodies: thyroid peroxidase Abs (TPO Ab) + antithyroglobulin Abs (ATG Ab)
- reverse T3 (RT3)
Proper thyroid testing provides answers, and can assist in diagnosing a specific thyroid disorder. You may find it handy to take along this list when you visit your doctor.
Order Your Own Thyroid Lab Tests
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Please Note: The information presented on this post does not create a doctor-patient relationship and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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