How Thyroid Screening Can Help You to Manage Thyroid Disease
There are three or four readings that are assessed when you have a thyroid health screening test: TSH, TT4, FT4, and sometimes TT3. Alternatively, you can also get a combination of Thyroid Panel and TSH. In both cases, your results are assessed in the context of a range of results so you can get a good idea of how your results compare to those in the average range.
The TSH test tests of thyroid stimulating hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid to create more hormones. TSH levels usually rise when the thyroid is battling to produce hormones—if your TSH levels are high, this means that your thyroid is not acting the way it should, or producing as much thyroid hormone as your bod would require in order to function properly. The average range for the test is usually between 0.3 and 3.0, and was altered from 0.5 to 5.0, which had been upheld as normal until 2002.This change evidently meant that many people in America who had believed they were in the normal range (those scoring above 3.0 but below 5.0) would now receive a hypothyroidism diagnosis. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists refers to those to whom this applies as suffering “from a mild thyroid disorder.”
Some doctors base their thyroid diagnoses solely on this test, which they believe is the only one required to determine whether thyroid activity levels are below or above the norm. However, this attitude, too, has its opponents, since interpreting this test varies widely from one doctor to another.
TT4 or total 4 is the amount of thyroid hormone you have that is bound to proteins. TT4 levels drop when the thyroid is battling. The range for this test is between 50 and 160.
FT4 or free T4 is the amount of thyroid hormone you have in your body, not bound to proteins. The range is between 10 and 24 in a healthy person.
FT3 or free T3 is produced by TT4 which is converted by the body and is the only thyroid hormone used by the body’s cells. The range for this test spans 4 to 8.3. If your body is not converting TT4 your TT3 levels will be low and, if your receptor cells are blocked your TT3 levels will be high. Everyone’s definition is different and everyone’s bodies need different amounts of hormones to function optimally. The ranges are also quite vast and someone on either end of the scale could be classed as having a normal reading. If you are not converting TT4 to TT3 then your TSH and T4 levels could still be giving a normal result, so the TT3 test is an important one.
Another important consideration is that hypothyroid sufferers tend to have low blood volume, so any blood test taken is likely to give a high reading. It is important for people who believe they suffer from ailments of the thyroid to investigate all potential issues, since treatments with T4 alone can cause further problems and complications. For instance, T4 medication such as Synthroid can at first cause low blood pressure. This, in time, will lead to high blood pressure if left improperly treated. People with low blood pressure may have problems with their kidneys, which cannot properly filter out the waste matter in the body. In turn, this will lead to the production of angiotensin, a decisive factor in raising blood pressure. The adrenal glands can also produce increased volumes of cortisol, which will yield the same effect.
The basal temperature test is also an important one although it is not taught at UK medical school. It is an important diagnostic tool as the only other conditions that present with a low basal body temperature are alcoholism, malnutrition, hypothermia and liver failure. It seeks to identify the lowest temperature of the body during sleep and can also be used to estimate women’s ovulation dates, since the process usually provokes a significant increase in body temperature, of up to 1 degree Fahrenheit. It has also been used as a way to prevent pregnancy, although many have questioned this use, since the basal body temperature test cannot predict ovulation in advance, as would be required in order to avoid pregnancy. The basal temperature test should be performed in conjunction with other tests or on occasions where blood tests have not revealed a thyroid problem but symptoms of hypo or hyperthyroidism are present.
Recent research from the Czech Republic has found that thyroid health screening in pregnant women may give an indication as to whether they are likely to develop postpartum thyroiditis. Some women carry a marker which signifies they may be at risk of developing thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders. In the study that was performed two thirds of the women had thyroid problems within two years of giving birth.