Would you like to know the health condition of your thyroid gland? You need to test for it.
Defining thyroid function tests
These are a set of blood tests that give a measure of the efficacy of your thyroid gland. The tests available for this include the TSH, T4, T3, and T3RU.
Meanwhile, the thyroid is a small gland that sits at the lower front part of the neck. The thyroid gland regulates body metabolism, energy production, mood and a whole lot of body processes.
The thyroid produces two basic hormones:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxine (T4)
Where the thyroid gland fails to generate a sufficient amount of these hormones, symptoms like depression, weight gain, and energy loss may be experienced. A condition like this is described as hypothyroidism.
Again, where your thyroid gland generates excessive hormones, symptoms like tremors, loss of weight, increased anxiety level, and a sense of being on a high may be experienced. A condition like this is described as hyperthyroidism.
It is typical of any doctor that has noticed abnormalities in your thyroid hormone levels to recommend extensive testing like the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) or the T4 test. Where the outcome of these tests shows an abnormality, your doctor will recommend that you undergo further testing to detect the cause of the issue.
Should you be worried about the function of your thyroid gland and have not got a doctor to provide healthcare, you can view private doctors near me.
Drawing blood for thyroid function
Inform your doctor about any medication you are taking. Are you pregnant? Let your doctor know as well. Why? Some medications and pregnancy may impact the result of the test.
The act of drawing blood, also described as venipuncture, is done at the doctor’s office or laboratory. Upon your arrival at the test centre, you will be ushered into a comfortable chair or asked to lie on some other furniture. If you are wearing long sleeves, the technician will ask that you roll up one sleeve or take out one arm from the sleeve.
The technician or nurse will proceed to tie a tourniquet (an elastic band) around your upper arm. This will make the area swell with blood. They will inspect and look for a suitable vein. When they find one, a needle will be inserted into the vein. A pricking sensation may be felt as the needle penetrates your skin. Your blood will be collected in test tubes and moved to a lab for analysis.
After collecting all the blood they need for the tests, the technician will withdraw the needle. They will apply slight pressure on the punctured site so that you won’t bleed again – a small bandage will be placed over the site.
Once completed, it is expected that you get back to your normal activities without any fuss.
What are the side effects and post-care?
Drawing blood is not abnormal. It is one common healthcare activity that is minimally invasive. In the days following the venipuncture, the punctured site may develop into a slight bruise, or you may notice it has become sore. Should you feel uncomfortable, get an ice pack or an over-the-counter pain relief medication.
But if the pain becomes severe or the punctured site and surrounding area are reddish and swollen, contact your doctor or primary caregiver immediately. It may be that an infection is underway.
Interpreting the result of the test
T4 and TSH result
These two tests are prevalent tests for thyroid function. Usually, they are ordered at the same time.
The T4 test is the thyroxine test. When there is a high level of T4, it shows the thyroid is overactive – a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Accompanying symptoms of this condition include tremors, diarrhoea, unexpected weight loss and anxiety. A large number of body T4 is attached to protein. Just a small amount isn’t attached to protein, and it is known as free T4. Your body gets to use this form of T4 that is free. There are times when a free T4 level is measured together with the T4 test.
The level of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the body is checked using the TSH test. The normal range for a TSH test is between 0.4 and 4.0 milli-international units of hormone per litre of blood (mIU/L).
If you are experiencing hypothyroidism symptoms and upon testing, your TSH reading is above 2.0 mIU/L, you stand a chance of developing hypothyroidism. The symptoms of this condition include depression, fatigue, weight gain, brittle fingernails and hair. Subsequently, your doctor may recommend further thyroid function tests at least yearly. Again, your doctor may choose to start giving you treatment with medications like levothyroxine to control any symptom you are experiencing.
Do you know that the TSH and T4 tests are regularly done on newborns to detect a thyroid gland that is not functioning effectively? The condition is known as congenital hypothyroidism. Should it be neglected and not treated, the baby may have developmental disabilities from then on.
The hormone triiodothyronine levels are measured using the T3 test. This test is typically ordered when the TSH and T4 tests are showing the patient has hyperthyroidism. Another case that demands a T3 test is when you have overactive thyroid gland symptoms and no increase in your T4 and TSH levels.
T3 test has a normal range between 100 to 200 nanograms of hormone per decilitre of blood (ng/dL). Where the T3 levels are unusually high, it is a common sign of a condition known as Grave’s disease – an autoimmune disorder closely related to hyperthyroidism.
T3 resin uptake result
This blood test also described with the acronym T3RU, measures the binding capacity of a hormone known as thyroxin-binding globulin (TBG). An elevated level of T3 equals a low binding capacity of TBG.
When the level of TBG is unusually low, it sometimes shows the kidney has a problem or the body isn’t supplied sufficient protein. If the TBG level is unusually high, it could mean that the body estrogen levels are high. Some of the reasons for increased estrogen levels include obesity, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, and consumption of foods rich in estrogen.
A thyroid uptake test or ultrasound may be recommended when your blood test results show an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. The doctor will understand from these tests whether there are structural issues with the thyroid gland, the activity of the thyroid gland, and the presence of tumours that may be causing problems. Following the findings from the tests, your doctor may have to check for cancer by sampling tissue from the thyroid.
If the scan test comes out as normal, you may get doctor-prescribed medications that will help to regulate your thyroid activity. As you proceed, the doctor will ask that you undergo further tests for thyroid function to ensure the medication is effective.
You can view private doctors near me if you do not have a primary healthcare giver to test the function of your thyroid gland and see if it is in good condition.