Are you concerned that your thyroid is not functioning well? Take a thyroid test to find out for sure. The thyroid is a crucial organ responsible for various functions in your body, such as hormone regulation. However, if the thyroid is not working correctly, you might need a thyroid test to determine the root cause of the problem. At Susan A. Baker, M.D., we offer thyroid tests for patients in Beverly Hills, California, and the surrounding areas. Here is more about thyroid testing.
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located at the lower front of your neck. This essential gland produces hormones, secretes them into the blood, and distributes them to all tissues throughout the body. The thyroid hormones are responsible for various functions, including temperature regulation, helping the body to utilise energy from food, stay warm, sexual development, and keeping the heart, brain, and muscles functioning correctly.
The thyroid produces two hormones known as T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). The pituitary gland (located at the bottom of the brain) makes the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which triggers the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. The thyroid and pituitary gland constantly communicate with each other on the amounts of hormones needed to keep your levels at a normal range. There are diseases of the thyroid gland that cause the thyroid to produce too high (Hyperthyroidism)or too low (hypothyroidism) amounts of the thyroid hormone.
Why Are Thyroid Tests Taken?
If your thyroid is not functioning as it should due to an illness or underlying dysfunction, it can affect your quality of life. A thyroid blood test can be performed to check thyroid function. Blood is drawn from a vein in your arm to measure the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. Thyroid blood tests may be ordered to check thyroid diseases before symptoms occur, especially in newborns, and to monitor treatment progress for thyroid disorders.
The test can help show if you have the following:
This is a condition whereby the thyroid becomes overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. When this happens, your body uses energy faster than usual, and your metabolism may also speed up. You may experience symptoms such as:
- Weight loss
- Enlarged thyroid
- Unusually moist or smooth skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Fast heartbeat
Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common type of hyperthyroidism. Your doctor may perform a blood test to check TSH levels.
Hypothyroidism is a condition whereby the thyroid is underactive and produces low thyroid hormone levels. This leads to slow energy utilisation in the body and the slowdown of metabolism. Hashimoto’s disease is a type of thyroid disorder. When you have hypothyroidism, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Slow height growth in children
- Weight gain
- Chronic fatigue
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
Blood tests are used to diagnose underlying thyroid disorders associated with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, such as:
- Thyroid nodule
- Thyroid cancer
- Thyroid tumors
- Graves’ disease
- Hashimoto’s disease
Which Blood Tests Are Done to Test the Thyroid?
Thyroid function tests involve a series of blood tests to measure the function of your thyroid gland. Blood tests are used to check for thyroid or pituitary glands. Commonly available tests include:
TSH Test: TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test shows how well your thyroid works or if there is a thyroid hormone imbalance. Elevated TSH levels are associated with hypothyroidism, while hyperthyroidism is associated with low TSH levels. If your TSH levels are abnormal, your thyroid hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), may be measured to evaluate the problem deeply.
T4 Test: This test measures the blood level of the T4 (thyroxine)hormone, which helps regulate heart rate, metabolism, and temperature. T4 tests for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism and to monitor thyroid disease treatment. High T4 indicates hyperthyroidism, while low T4 indicates hypothyroidism.
T3 total test: This test helps diagnose and manage hyperthyroidism. It also helps to show the severity of hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid antibodies test: The test helps identify and diagnose various autoimmune thyroid conditions, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Two types of antibodies are measured, thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO). Common thyroid antibody tests include:
- Microsomal antibodies
- Thyroglobulin antibodies
- Thyroid receptor antibodies
- Thyroid blocking immunoglobulins
Thyroglobulin: Doctors perform this test to diagnose thyroiditis (thyroid inflammation) and monitor thyroid cancer treatment.
Calcitonin: The test diagnoses C-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid cancer. These are rare thyroid disorders.
Thyroid testing also involves measuring your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that produces your flight or fight response when you are anxious or stressed. Cortisol also controls metabolism and blood sugar levels. Sometimes, abnormal thyroid results can be due to pregnancy, an ongoing medical condition, or particular medicine. If that is the case, there might be nothing wrong with your thyroid or pituitary glands.
Various medications, such as birth control pills or biotin supplements, may interfere with or affect thyroid function testing. It is essential to inform your medical health practitioner about these instances before you test for thyroid disorders.
Why Should I Consider a Thyroid Test?
You can take a thyroid test to:
- To test and diagnose specific thyroid concerns such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
- To test for fertility and feminine health because women are more likely to have thyroid issues than men. Women may be unable to achieve and maintain pregnancy due to hypothyroidism.
- To take preventative measures and avoid undiagnosed thyroid disorders that may increase the risk of osteoporosis, infertility, or heart conditions.
There are no special preparations for thyroid tests. If you are taking biotin supplements or any supplements containing biotin, it would be best to wait at least 72 hours from your last dose before going in for a thyroid test. You also need to fast for several hours if undergoing other blood tests.
If you have thyroid dysfunction, lifestyle changes, nutritional counselling, diet modifications (eat more eggs, fish, dairy, nuts, or seaweeds), or bioidentical hormone therapy can help manage symptoms and any thyroid issues you may have.
If you are concerned about your thyroid function and need more information on thyroid testing, make an appointment online or call the team at Susan A. Baker today.