Are concerned about your thyroid health? If you think you should get tested this article lists the top 5 thyroid tests you should discuss with your doctor.
As you may already know, the most common thyroid test is the single TSH test.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is an important messenger hormone. However you need to know this thyroid hormone is not actually produced within the thyroid. TSH is made in the pituitary gland, an endocrine organ about the size of a pea that’s located deep within your brain.
When the pituitary releases TSH this hormone travels to the thyroid via the bloodstream to stimulate production of your thyroid hormones. The thyroid responds by getting busy making important thyroid hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
A far greater amount of TSH is released when the body needs to step up production of your thyroid hormones. For this reason, a high TSH result is usually due to hypothyroidism.
The ‘Test TSH First’ Strategy
Due to restraints within the current medical system the single TSH test is routinely used to check thyroid function.
Most individuals are advised no further investigation of their thyroid is necessary when their TSH result falls within the reference range.
For this reason, when your TSH result falls within the wide reference range it is common to be told you are ‘euthyroid’. This is a term used to describe normal thyroid function. This can be despite the fact you have physical and psychological indicators that your thyroid is functioning well below par.
The Single TSH Test Is Not Enough
The problem is, the single TSH test is not a reliable indicator of thyroid function. It’s the reason a ‘normal’ result can be misleading.
If you suspect your thyroid is not functioning properly it’s a good idea to discuss comprehensive testing with your doctor. Ideally you will get a complete thyroid panel done that includes TSH plus free T4 (FT4), free T3 (FT3), reverse T3 (RT3), and the thyroid antibodies.
Testing free T4 and T3 can tell you how much of these thyroid hormones are ‘free’ and available for uptake and use throughout the body. It also tells you how much T4 is converting to the more potent T3. Low T3 can be due to under conversion and only a check of both free T4 and free T3 will reveal if this is a problem.
T3 acts on almost every cell and organ in the body. As a consequence, low T3 leads to a range of hypothyroid symptoms.
WHY Test ‘Reverse T3’ (What Does This Tell You)?
Yes, if you have 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 a thyroid disorder.
High reverse T3 triggers many of the common symptoms 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. Excess reverse T3 is produced in response to enormous physical or emotional stress, long term illness, yo-yo dieting, or a chronic iron deficiency.
You can learn more here: Why You Need To Know About Reverse T3 Dominance
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 Should Discuss With Your Doctor
In summary, the top 5 thyroid tests I recommend are:
- 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.
In the USA and finding it hard to get the thyroid tests you want?
In Australia and finding it hard to get the thyroid tests you want?
> > i-screen offer the Advanced Thyroid Check. You can order and pay online for this test on the i-screen website. You don’t need a doctor’s referral!
Your Test Results Should Be Considered Along With How You Feel
Most importantly, when discussing testing with your doctor you should list the symptoms you feel relate to your thyroid health. Low thyroid symptoms are significant indicators your thyroid is under active. What’s more, if you have a family history of thyroid problems you should also mention this.
The common symptoms of a low thyroid include fatigue, feeling the cold, dry skin and hair, low libido, menstrual irregularities, mood changes, low blood pressure, heart palpitations, hair loss, muscle weakness and weight gain. Your individual symptoms should be carefully considered along with the thyroid blood test results.
Medications containing T4, a T4/T3 combination, or single T3 are usually prescribed when your thyroid hormone levels are low.
It’s worth noting that T3 activity is often discussed in relation to weight gain, but you should not take this medication for the sole purpose of assisting weight loss. Taking too much T3 medication can cause serious side effects such as a rapid heart rate and agitation.