How do you know when you should have your thyroid tested? It’s a little tricky because some people who have a thyroid disorder don’t show symptoms, yet the condition could actually be affecting almost every aspect of your life. At the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY, we offer advanced thyroid testing that will give you the answers you need to take care of your health. Read on, and we’ll let you know how to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for thyroid testing.
When Should You Get Thyroid Testing?
Know the Symptoms
In short, you should not hesitate to get your thyroid tested if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, even if you suspect that the issue is your diet or exercise. Since the tell-tale signs include fatigue, weight gain, and lack of energy, many people with thyroid conditions blame them on lifestyle factors.
Know the Risk Factors
You have a higher risk of developing a thyroid disorder as a result of:
- Being in a high-risk group due to another existing condition
- Having a family history of thyroid conditions
- Being pregnant
- Being over 60
Now, let’s get into some important information on what the thyroid does and why it is important to your health.
All About Your Thyroid
What Is It?
The thyroid is a 2-inch gland that is shaped like a butterfly. It is located at the throat, in the front of the neck.
What Is the Role of the Thyroid?
Your thyroid produces hormones that tell your body to burn fuel into energy. As you can imagine, that means that it is very important in helping you function from day today. For example, it influences your perception of temperature, your alertness, your heart rate, and your cognition.
Major organs and muscles are affected by the hormone levels that are determined by your thyroid. As a result, when your thyroid is not functioning correctly, your whole system can feel off balance.
What Are the Main Thyroid Hormones?
There are three hormones that are important to understanding thyroid function:
- TSH (thyroid-stimulating-hormone)
- T4 (thyroxine)
- T3 (triiodothyronine)
The main difference between T4 and T3 is that T4 has 4 ion atoms whereas T3 has 3. They are essentially different forms of the same hormone, and T4 actually undergoes a conversion process to become T3, which is the form that can be utilized at the cellular level.
Why Are T4 and T3 Important in Your Body?
There are many processes that are regulated by your T4 and T3 levels. The major ones include your metabolism, your muscle control, your brain function, your bone maintenance, your digestion, and your cardiovascular health.
How Do Thyroid Hormones Work When the Thyroid Is Healthy?
The thyroid is like a middle man between your brain and your body’s ability to use energy. There are three basic steps to that process. First, your brain creates TSH, which tells your thyroid to activate. Next, your thyroid produces T4 and a small amount of T3. T3 is the hormone that your cells can actually use. Lastly, the T4 is converted into T3 via a process that occurs mostly in the liver.
When the amount of T4 you have in your bloodstream has risen to the desired level, the change is registered by a part of your brain called the pituitary gland. Once that happens, your brain stops producing TSH, and the creation of T4 is reigned in. In the same way, as soon as your T4 drops below a healthy level, your pituitary gland senses the dip. As a result, the process of hormone production starts all over again.
There are two main types of thyroid disorders. They are:
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid is under-performing. Hyperthyroidism happens when your thyroid is over-active. When you undergo thyroid testing, your levels of T3 and T4 will be checked. If they are high, it is an indication of hyperthyroidism. Low levels are a sign of hypothyroidism.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
This is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system creates antibodies that trigger the overproduction of T4 within the thyroid.
Toxic adenoma occurs when part of the thyroid separates itself from the rest to form a lump, resulting in thyroid swelling and the overproduction of T4.
Thyroiditis refers to an inflammation of the thyroid. This condition sometimes occurs after pregnancy for reasons that experts have not been able to determine.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
This condition is an autoimmune disorder that results in the underproduction of thyroid hormones.
Response to Surgeries or Therapies
Sometimes, radiation therapy and thyroid surgery can cause the thyroid to under-produce T4, resulting in hypothyroidism.
Response to Medications
Similarly, there are certain medications, including antithyroid treatments, that can cause hypothyroidism.
Pregnancy can sometimes trigger the body to create antibodies that act against the thyroid.
Too Little Iodine
While it is rare in parts of the world where iodine is added to table salt, and iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism because iodine is essential for the creation of thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem
Did you know that thyroid conditions affect 5% of the population and that 1 in 8 women will have an issue with their thyroid at some point during their life? In fact, women are more likely to have a thyroid disorder than men. That said, men can develop one as well.
Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Increase in body weight
- Trouble staying warm
- Dry skin
- Nails that break easily
- Hair loss
- Difficulty going to the bathroom
- Muscle aches
- Pain in the joints
- Irregular menstruation
- Swelling of the thyroid
- Inability to become pregnant
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Nervousness, irritability, and anxiety
- Unexplained loss of weight
- Feeling overly active
- Lack of sex drive
- Feeling itchy
- Increased need to urinate
- Increased need to drink water
All About Thyroid Testing
Normal Hormone Levels
The thyroid is usually checked with a blood test, which registers your levels of TSH, T4 and T3. Here are the normal ranges for thyroid hormones:
- TSH 0.27– 4.2 mIU/L
- FT4 12.0 – 22.0 pmol/L
- FT3 3.1 – 6.8 pmol/L
The “F” in “FT4” and “FT3” stands for free, indicating the level of “free” T3 or T4 in the bloodstream. If we see that one of your values falls outside the normal range, it is an indication that you have either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. If that is the case, you could benefit from hormone replacement therapy.
Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders
As far as diagnostics go, TSH and FT4 levels are the most helpful for determining hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. FT3 levels are usually used to determine whether or not an individual has hyperthyroidism.
Thyroglobulin Antibodies and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
Thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies are also helpful in detecting a thyroid disorders, especially if it is caused by an autoimmune condition.
Getting Your Thyroid Back On Track
The goal of thyroid testing is to get you treatments that will help you feel better if the results show that you have a thyroid problem. You don’t have to live with the symptoms. There are many treatments available.
Treatments for Hypothyroidism
Treatments for hypothyroidism usually center around hormone replacement therapy. Most people with hypothyroidism start taking levothyroxine, which functions in the body like T4. It is usually recommended that they repeat their thyroid tests once a year to keep an eye on things.
Treatments for Hyperthyroidism
Treatments for hyperthyroidism focus on decreasing the activity of the thyroid. Options include antithyroid drugs, surgery, and the administration of radioactive iodine. As in the case of hypothyroidism, individuals who have been diagnosed with the condition should monitor their thyroid hormone levels on a yearly basis.
Set Up a Consultation With Us
Are you experiencing any symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hyperthyroidism? Do you believe you are a good candidate for thyroid testing? If yes, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We will discuss how you are feeling and help you understand your diagnostic options. Call us anytime at 502-443-9962.
Know Your Thyroid and Know Your Options
If you are feeling generally unwell (fatigue, loss of the ability to concentrate, prone to weight gain or weight loss), it could be very beneficial for you to get your thyroid checked. While the thyroid is a small gland that is usually not suspect, it could actually be causing you to feel less than your best self. thy, and we will put you on the path to understanding whether or not thyroid treatments could change your life for the better.