Did you know that your thyroid is responsible for making two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) that control how the body uses energy? These thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in your body, even your heart.
So when your hormones become imbalanced, they can wreak havoc in your body. Your energy levels can spike and cause you to become physically hyperactive—or on the other hand—your energy can dip and cause you to feel drained and lethargic. Imbalances can also cause all types of diseases such as hypothyroidism (which is when your hormone levels are too low) and hyperthyroidism (which is when your hormone levels are too high).
Fortunately, there are thyroid tests that you can take to help diagnose exactly what is going on with your system. Most health professionals will test the thyroid using TSH – a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone blood test. However, taking two other tests will enable you to have the full picture of what’s going on with your thyroid.
Here are the recommended thyroid tests1:
Health care professionals usually check the amount of TSH in your blood first. A HIGH TSH level most often means you have hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) which means that it isn’t making enough hormone. As a result, the pituitary keeps making and releasing TSH into your blood.
A LOW TSH level usually means you have hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). This means that your thyroid is making too much hormone, so the pituitary stops making and releasing TSH into your blood.
If the TSH test results are not normal, you’ll need at least one other test to help find the cause of the problem.
A high blood level of T4 may mean you have hyperthyroidism. A low level of T4 may mean you have hypothyroidism.
In some cases, high or low T4 levels may not mean you have thyroid problems. If you are pregnant or are taking oral contraceptives NIH externa link, your thyroid hormone levels will be higher. Severe illness or using corticosteroids—medicines to treat asthma, arthritis, skin conditions, and other health problems—can lower T4 levels. These conditions and medicines change the amount of proteins in your blood that “bind,” or attach, to T4. Bound T4 is kept in reserve in the blood until it’s needed. “Free” T4 is not bound to these proteins and is available to enter body tissues. Because changes in binding protein levels don’t affect free T4 levels, many healthcare professionals prefer to measure free T4.
If your health care professional thinks you may have hyperthyroidism even though your T4level is normal, you may have a T3 test to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes T4 is normal yet T3is high, so measuring both T4 and T3 levels can be useful in diagnosing hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Issue2
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can include:
• Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness.
• Having trouble sleeping.
• Losing weight.
• Having an enlarged thyroid gland or a goiter.
• Having muscle weakness and tremors.
• Experiencing irregular menstrual periods or having your menstrual cycle stop.
• Feeling sensitive to heat.
• Having vision problems or eye irritation.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:
• Feeling tired (fatigue).
• Gaining weight.
• Experiencing forgetfulness.
• Having frequent and heavy menstrual periods.
• Having dry and coarse hair.
• Having a hoarse voice.
• Experiencing an intolerance to cold temperatures.
Where to Get Your Thyroid Tested
If you think you may have a thyroid problem, you can visit a health and wellness clinic like Silicon Valley Natural Health and we’ll do all the tests for you.
Or if you prefer to do the tests yourself, you can buy them at directlabs.com. Just remember that you’ll still need to see a doctor to determine what your results mean. And, Dr. Julie Tran-Olive can help you with that, too.
If you’d like to make an appointment with Dr Julie Tran-Olive, call (408) 792-7229 today.
1National Institute of Diabetes and Digesting and Kidney Diseases