Although you have the same habits, your weight has changed significantly; you always feel tired. You are always hot or cold but never comfortable. You did not have a regular period, but you are not pregnant, you have a bump on your neck.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be time for you to be checked with a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test.
What is TSH?
The TSH test is a blood test that measures the level of TSH in your blood. The pituitary gland in your brain makes a hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the production of TSH by the pituitary gland.
This hormone tells the thyroid gland whether to speed up or slow down its production of T3 and T4. TSH is released into the bloodstream, where it travels throughout your body, stimulating the growth and activity of thyroid cells in your thyroid gland.
When too little thyroid hormone is in your body, your pituitary gland will produce more TSH. Conversely, if too much thyroid hormone is present in your body, your pituitary gland will produce less TSH.
What does a TSH test measure?
A TSH test measures how well your pituitary gland works by measuring how much TSH it releases into your bloodstream.
What is the purpose of the TSH test?
The primary purpose of this test is to help diagnose certain conditions such as:
- hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone)
- hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone)
- Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder where antibodies attack the thyroid gland)
- Thyroid cancer
Why should I get a TSH test?
It may be beneficial for you to undergo this test if you have symptoms of thyroid disorders, such as weight changes, fatigue, feeling hot all the time (even if others around you are feeling cold), dry skin, hair loss, irregular periods, depression, and anxiety, constipation, and hoarseness.
These symptoms are not always caused by an underactive or overactive thyroid gland, so other tests may be needed before any treatment can be started.
How does the TSH test work?
The Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test measures the level of this hormone in the blood. TSH is released by the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland produces TSH in response to signals from the hypothalamus and the thyroid gland.
The hypothalamus is a small structure in the brain that plays a vital role in regulating body temperature, hunger, thirst, and emotions such as fear and anger. It also sends hormones to the pituitary gland to stimulate or inhibit its production of TSH.
The thyroid gland produces two hormones: T3 and T4 (thyroxine). These hormones are essential for normal development in children’s normal metabolism, growth, and development.
If you have low levels of T4 or T3 in your blood, this could mean that your thyroid isn’t working correctly. This test aims to find out if you have abnormal levels of these hormones; your doctor will want to check your TSH levels regularly to ensure they don’t get too high or low.
Taking certain medications like levothyroxine (Levothroid), methimazole (Tapazole), and propylthiour also affect how well your pituitary gland functions.
What should you do to prepare for the test?
Before having this blood test, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking because some medications may affect the test results. Also, tell your health care provider if you have an iodine allergy or have ever had a reaction to an iodine contrast agent used for x-rays or CT scans.
You may need to stop taking certain medications before your TSH test. These include:
- Birth control pills
- Estrogen supplements (including hormone replacement therapy)
- Corticosteroids (for example, prednisone)
- Thyroid medications (levothyroxine)
Is there any risk involved in the test?
There is no risk involved in having this blood test.
How can the results be interpreted?
Normal values for TSH range from 0.5 to 3 mill units per liter (mU/L). However, there’s no single answer for what constitutes normal TSH levels. Your doctor will use your results and other information to determine whether your thyroid is underactive or overactive. For example:
Suppose your TSH level is below 0.5 mU/L, but other hormones are within the normal range. In that case, you may have subclinical hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) or Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder that causes thyroid inflammation).
In these cases, treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone may be needed to bring your levels back into balance.
If your TSH level is between 4 and 10 mU/L, but all other hormones are within the normal range, you may have normal thyroid function with a slight increase in antibodies in your bloodstream.
What else should you know about a TSH test?
Regarding thyroid health, knowing how much of each hormone you have circulating through your bloodstream at any given time is essential.
The thyroid gland also needs iodine to produce these hormones. Iodine is found naturally in foods such as milk, eggs, and seafood. Iodized salt contains added iodine to ensure that people get enough of this mineral daily.
When your thyroid produces too much or too little TSH, it can harm your metabolism — increasing or decreasing your body’s ability to make energy from food sources such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
From a practical standpoint, the biggest draw of TSH testing is that it’s convenient. It’s fast and easy, and most people have no problem with it. However, because there are other thyroid function tests available, you should discuss with your doctor which test(s) will give you the best idea of what’s going on with your body.
The TSH test can serve as an avenue to finding out where things stand concerning your thyroid levels without having to go through any hassle or spend thousands of dollars. If you develop any of the above-discussed symptoms and demand answers immediately, consult Dr. Remedies Labs to take a thyroid profile test.
Dr. Remedies Labs provides diagnostic services in multiple cities throughout the country. We are committed to providing high-quality services and expanding rapidly to reach most people.
As part of its comprehensive diagnostic services, it has opened a state-of-the-art Central Clinical Reference Lab in Hyderabad, Telangana, which guarantees quality, reliability, and customer care. Visit our website for more information.