Despite being a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland no more than two inches long, your thyroid can cause major disruptions to your life when it’s not functioning properly. Unfortunately, many symptoms of thyroid problems go unnoticed or are misattributed to something else.
At the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY, we carry out detailed thyroid testing to pinpoint hormone imbalances and develop individualized treatment plans. Read on to learn about what role your thyroid plays in your body and how to know when you should undergo testing.
What Does Your Thyroid Do and Why Is It Important?
Your thyroid produces two hormones: triiodothyronine and thyroxine, also known as T3 and T4, respectively. These hormones play a major role in your metabolism by telling your body’s cells how much energy to use. T3 and T4 have also been linked to your body’s growth and development, including muscle control and brain development and function.
However, sometimes your body will produce too much of one hormone and not enough of the other. If your pituitary gland senses an imbalance in your thyroid hormones, it releases a hormone of its own called thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH.
When everything is working correctly, this will spur your thyroid to secrete the necessary levels of specific hormones to restore balance.
There are two major thyroid conditions that we screen for during thyroid testing: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. More information on both of these, including how they’re diagnosed and associated symptoms, can be found below.
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid is not as active as it should be and fails to produce adequate levels of T3 and T4. As a result, there are higher levels of TSH in your blood and lower levels of T3 and T4.
Hypothyroidism may be caused by pregnancy or other underlying diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease. It may also appear as a response to certain medications.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include the following:
- Heightened anxiety levels
- Puffy face
- Unexplained weight gain
- Frequently feeling cold
- Muscle weakness or stiffness
- Brittle hair and nails
- Fertility issues
- Increased irritability
- Heavy or abnormal menstrual flow
- Trouble remembering things
Some symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, and feelings of sadness, can be misdiagnosed by doctors as depression. However, you know your body the best. If you suspect something else is at play, it’s a good idea to seek testing to rule out a thyroid condition.
As the name suggests, hyperthyroidism refers to an overactive thyroid gland. As a result, high levels of free T3 and T4 can be found in the bloodstream.
Hyperthyroidism can frequently be traced back to an underlying autoimmune disorder known as Graves’ disease. However, it can also be caused by other conditions, including thyroiditis and toxic adenoma.
People afflicted by hyperthyroidism may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased sweating
- Puffy or bulging eyes
- Heightened anxiety and irritability
- Unexpected weight loss or gain
- Unusually short or light periods
You may have noticed that hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism share some of the same symptoms. That’s why a simple questionnaire screening doesn’t cut it when it comes to diagnosing thyroid disorders; further testing is necessary.
What Does Detailed Thyroid Testing Entail?
There are a couple of different ways to check your thyroid health. Sometimes doctors will use an ultrasound machine to capture images of your thyroid to check for inflammation and other physical signs of a disorder. However, blood tests tend to be easier and more conclusive.
At the Medical Transformation Center, we use a simple blood test to determine your T3, T4, and TSH levels. It is relatively quick and simple, and it is the first step toward getting your thyroid under control.
How Do I Prepare for Thyroid Testing?
Getting blood work done for thyroid testing is actually easier than most blood work. You don’t have to fast or take any special precautions before coming in for thyroid testing.
Who Should Undergo Detailed Thyroid Testing?
You should set up a thyroid testing appointment if you are experiencing multiple symptoms related to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. People who are at an increased risk of developing a thyroid disorder include individuals over the age of 60, those with a family history of thyroid disorders, and pregnant women.
If you fall into any of these categories, or if you have other health conditions that put you at high risk, it’s a smart idea to get tested.
How Are Thyroid Conditions Treated?
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis, you can look at treatment options. For people with hypothyroidism, hormonal replacement therapy is usually the best course of action.
In contrast, treatment for hyperthyroidism usually centers around decreasing thyroid activity. This can be achieved using medication, radioactive iodine therapy, or surgical intervention.
We always take the time to discuss all possible treatment options and make sure you understand the different paths available to you based on your test results.
Whether you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it’s a good idea to have follow-up testing done at least once a year. This allows us to monitor your condition and make adjustments in treatment as needed.
Professional Thyroid Testing Near You
If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms associated with a malfunctioning thyroid, don’t hesitate to call the Medical Transformation Center. We are conveniently located in Louisville, KY, and have been helping individuals transform their life with functional medicine since 2013 — and we can help you, too.
Contact our team today to set up a consultation for detailed thyroid testing in Louisville, KY.