What Tests Are Done For Thyroid Problems?

Often, I get the question, “What labs should I have done to test my Thyroid?” In this blog post I will give you a good idea of where to start!

Thyroid: The Basics

First things first, let’s talk a little about the Thyroid gland and its function in the body.

The Thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. It is a vitally important gland in your body and controls all things metabolism. Think of it like your internal thermostat – controlling temperature and weight as well as playing a role in menstrual cycles, mood, heart rate, breathing, digestion, and even cholesterol levels. Knowing all of this, it is clear why your Thyroid levels being even slightly off can lead to so many symptoms and make you feel terrible!

Your Thyroid can either be working too hard, or not hard enough, with the former being called Hyperthyroid and the latter Hypothyroid. In addition, you can have an autoimmune disease which affects your Thyroid – called Hashimotos (which is a hypothyroid state) or Graves (which is a hyperthyroid state).

Hormones Associated with the Thyroid

The Thyroid makes 2 main hormones, T3 and T4. T4 is converted to T3 outside of the Thyroid. T3 is considered the “active” hormone which controls the metabolism in almost every cell in your body!

So, you may be wondering what controls how much T3 and T4 your body makes. Your brain makes a hormone called TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), this hormone travels to your Thyroid, telling it to make MORE Thyroid hormones when it is HIGH and LESS Thyroid hormones when it is LOW. In hypothyroid your Thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, are low but your TSH is high- Think of it like your brain is YELLING at your Thyroid to make more hormones because there is not enough! (EDIT: Here is a recent video I did on this subject to help clear things up for you!)

Where to Start with Lab-Work

Now that we have a better understanding of your Thyroid let’s talk about what lab-work I usually run on my new patients who have Thyroid concerns or symptoms. Often TSH is solely run to assess thyroid function but I like to have a bit more information to help my patients feel optimal!

  1. TSH (Thyroid Stimulation Hormone)– Remember this is the signal from your brain to your thyroid, this number can tell me if your thyroid is working too hard or not hard enough
  2. Free T3 and Free T4– These are the hormones made by your thyroid, testing free hormones give me a better picture of your thyroid output
  3. Thyroid Antibodies (to tell me if you have an autoimmune Thyroid disease like Graves or Hashimotos)
    1. Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO)
    2. Thyroglobulin antibody (TGAb)
    3. Thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI)

Understanding Your Options:

These labs are a great starting point for telling me the health of your thyroid and where to start treatment! If you are interested in your thyroid function or have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition and would like in-depth testing and comprehensive treatment options I am here to help!

Disclaimer: All material on this website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician.
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