While routine testing of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) plays an important role in thyroid assessment it doesn’t provide the full picture. Here are the top 5 thyroid tests that will help you discover what’s really going on with your thyroid health.
How Effective is The Basic TSH Test?
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 ‘normal’ result can be inaccurate when only a single TSH test is done.
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 along with other important diagnostic markers.
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) and antithyroglobulin Abs (ATG Ab).
- Reverse T3 (RT3).
Comprehensive testing makes it easier to get a diagnosis so you may find it useful to take along this list of tests to discuss with 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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