Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is tested in the following blood tests:
Diagnosing Thyroid Conditions with a TSH blood test
Thyroid conditions are primarily diagnosed through a TSH blood test and physical examination of the glands, blood tests work through measuring the amount of thyroid hormones present in the blood, in an effort to understand whether the thyroid gland is functioning as intended. As with all health concerns, your doctor will consider your age, general health, and medical history, to further aid in diagnosing thyroid conditions.
Thyroid blood tests measure the hormones that the glands make themselves, which are Triiodothyronine (T3), and Thyroxine (T4), alongside the Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is released by the pituitary gland. The TSH blood test is crucial in thyroid function assessments, determining if the thyroid gland is working properly, or if there is an underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Managing Thyroid Conditions
When trying to manage thyroid conditions, the best type of advice coincides with a lot of general health tips, getting the right amount of exercise is important to maintain a healthy weight, whether you are suffering from weight loss due to an overactive thyroid, or weight gain because of an underactive thyroid.
Taking a TSH blood test, or general thyroid tests, can be an effective way of monitoring thyroid levels throughout treatment, as it will allow you and your doctor to closely manage progression.
Causes of Thyroid Conditions
Thyroid conditions come in two major forms, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism, both conditions are caused by other diseases that impact the thyroid gland, therefore affecting how the glands produce hormones.
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can be caused by Grave’s disease, which is a condition that targets the immune system causing the gland to overproduce the thyroid hormones. However, an overactive thyroid can also be caused by thyroiditis, excessive iodine in the body, and nodules.
Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, typically is caused by the immune system attacking the gland, if excessive treatment for an overactive thyroid is carried out, it can cause an underactive thyroid, because it blocks the production of thyroid hormones. This highlights why it is important to keep updated on your thyroid levels via an TSH blood test, or any type of thyroid test that takes into account the thyroid-stimulating hormone. Other causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Postpartum Thyroiditis
- Iodine Deficiency
- Non-functioning thyroid gland
Symptoms of Thyroid Conditions
Depending on the type of thyroid condition, symptoms can differ, for an Overactive Thyroid symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Increased Appetite
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Muscle Weakness
- Heat Sensitivity
Underactive thyroids can cause the following symptoms:
- Weight Gain
- Cold Sensitivity
- Muscle Aches
- Dry hair and skin
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, and are worried about a potential thyroid condition, take a TSH blood test.
Diet and Hyperthyroidism:
The TSH blood test can also be used to indicate any needed dietary changes in certain cases of thyroid conditions. For Hyperthyroidism, consuming fish with healthy fats, such as salmon, can aid in maintaining your weight. Also try to integrate legumes, like beans, lentils, and peas, as these are great sources of protein and fiber, without the saturated fats that are found in meats. If hyperthyroidism goes untreated, it can weaken the bones, so ensuring that calcium-rich foods are consumed is a good way to counteract this, but as dairy contains iodine it is best to look for other sources of calcium, such as fortified foods.
- Processed food (High iodine)
- Cheese, milk, eggs
- Saltwater fish
In regards to Hypothyroidism, thyroid hormones are made of iodine, and therefore if you lack iodine, thyroid hormones will not be produced as effectively, before trying any iodine supplements talk to your doctor. Similarly, Tyrosine is an amino acid that can interact with medication for hypothyroidism, foods with tyrosine in include seaweed, turkey, eggs, and cottage cheese. Lastly Vitamin D is important to keep at a satisfactory level in general for better health, most people who have Hypothyroidism are also deficient in Vitamin D, consuming foods that are rich in Vitamin D such as eggs, fatty fish, and dairy products will help.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Excess Sodium
Some specific dietary choices can have an impact on the thyroid hormones, so a TSH blood test can be very helpful in guiding diet modifications, if required.
Treatment of thyroid conditions depends the both severity of the condition and which type the individual is suffering from. In the case of an Overactive thyroid, the aim is to reduce the production and release of thyroid hormones to normal levels. This is done through either Antithyroid medication, radioactive iodine pills, surgery, or beta-blockers. For an underactive thyroid, taking thyroid hormone replacement medication is the typical route that is offered, replacing the hormones that your body fails to produce. Regular monitoring of thyroid function through a TSH blood test is the best method of adjusting treatment, and ensuring its effectiveness, if any issues are noticed, it can be immediately attended to.