Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Lab Test

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Clinical Definition of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and regulates the release of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower-front part of the neck. It is an endocrine gland that synthesizes hormones. Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism and control the rate of many metabolic activities in the body. Thyroid profile tests check the functioning of the thyroid and are also used to diagnose thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Thyroid profile tests include a blood test which involves drawing blood from the body to be analyzed in a pathology lab.

The Thyroid blood test includes -

A TSH test to measure the level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone in your blood. It is used to measure the thyroid activity in the body. The T4 test is a thyroxin test. A high level of T4 hormone indicates an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). The T3 test checks for levels of triiodothyronine hormone. This test is done if the T4 and TSH tests suggest hyperthyroidism. The T3 test may also be done if there are signs of an overactive thyroid gland. To understand in detail about what is thyroid stimulating hormone test it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the procedure technique and other factors affecting it.

What is TSH Test?

The TSH test measures the level of thyroid stimulating hormone in the blood. The thyroid hormones play a major role in regulating our body functions like weight, body temperature and muscle strength etc. The hormone is primarily made in the pituitary gland located in the brain. In the event of low thyroid levels in the body, the pituitary gland starts making more TSH and vice versa if the levels are high the gland makes less or stops to manufacture. These irregular levels of the hormone indicate that your thyroid is not working correctly. To check for any underlying condition the doctor orders for the test. These tests are carried out in all major diagnostic centres and hospitals. Search online for tsh test near me, and you have all the details.

 

How is the Treatment Carried Out?

The thyroid stimulating hormone treatment can be carried out by giving a synthetic thyroid hormone pill to the patient daily in case of an underactive thyroid. This helps in normalizing the hormone levels. To ensure that you are on the right track it is advisable to check for TSH regularly. For overactive thyroid, the medication called thionamides is generally prescribed. This restricts the thyroids from producing excess hormone.

 

Why do I need this test?

Too much of the thyroid stimulating hormone in the blood is defined as hyperthyroidism while too little is defined as hypothyroidism. In both the cases, it is important to undergo the TSH test. The overproduction of thyroid stimulating hormone symptoms includes conditions like weight loss, anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, increased heart rate, bulging eyes and tremors in hands. While the underactive thyroid causes symptoms like weight gain, hair loss, constipation, irregular menstrual cycles, and tiredness. Patients with the above tsh symptoms are required to undergo the test in order to screen them for potential thyroid disorders.

In short, we can say that TSH testing is aimed to:

• Diagnose a thyroid disorder in a person with indicative symptoms

• Screen adults for any thyroid disorders

• Screen newborns for an underactive thyroid

• Check thyroid replacement therapy in people with hypothyroidism

• Identify and screen female infertility problems

• Monitor the functioning of the pituitary gland as and when required

• If you have any of the following conditions, you should get tested for thyroid disorders -

• You have a family history of thyroid problems

• You have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, or pituitary or endocrine disorders

• You are a woman in or near menopause, or are pregnant, or have just had a baby

• Besides the above conditions, here are the common symptoms of thyroid disorders -

• Unusual weight gain or weight loss

• Too much fatigue

• Dry skin

• Cold hands or feet

• Constipation

• Increased heart rate

• Recurring warm or sweaty feeling

• Mood issues such as mood swings, anxiety, or depression

 

What does the test detect?

The Thyroid Profile Test helps determine if your thyroid is working correctly or not. Thyroid disorders are usually of two types: -

Hyperthyroidism - An over-working thyroid. High thyroid hormones can cause diseases such as Graves' disease, thyroiditis, and goitre.

Hypothyroidism - Poor thyroid function. Low thyroid hormones can cause diseases such as pituitary gland disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, etc.

 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

 Along with the general TSH test, the doctors and medical practitioners also recommend additional tests for thyroid screening. The list of these tests includes Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies. The normal blood tests can determine the excess or deficiency of the TSH in blood. But in order to diagnose the cause of thyroid abnormality, these additional tests are required.

 

What do my test results mean?

 

There are two scenarios that a TSH test report could indicate. One either the thyroid is not making enough of the hormone, a condition defined as hypothyroidism or high levels of TSH. The second scenario involves overproduction of the hormone that is hyperthyroidism or low levels of TSH.

 

How is this test done?

 The thyroid stimulating hormone test involves a procedure known as venipuncture wherein the lab technician takes the blood sample from a vein in your arm using a needle. The sample drawn is collected in a test tube or a vial and sent to the lab for further analysis. The complete procedure usually takes not more than 5 minutes.

 

When do you expect results?

24 to 36 Hours

 

How do I prepare for the test?

 

It is recommended to get the tests done in the morning, as the TSH levels can fluctuate throughout the day. No preparation is needed for the test. But, you should tell your doctor if you are taking any medication, as certain medicines can affect the test results.

 

Sample Required?

Specimen type: Serum (Blood Sample), Specimen collection procedure: Venipuncture - Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm.

 

What might affect my test results?

 

The thyroid test results can be affected by a number of factors like what time of the day the test is carried out. Also if you are already on other medications during the time of the test, the results can be altered. This is because some of the medications restrict the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone. Examples of such medications include cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-depressants and corticosteroids

 

How do you Understand the TSH Test Result?

The TSH normal range for an average adult is 0.4 ‑ 4.0 mIU/L (milli-international units per litre). A value above the normal range in your test report indicates under active thyroid while a value below means overactive thyroid. When a patient is already on tsh treatment, then 0.5 to 3.0 milli-international units per litre is taken as the thyroid stimulating hormone normal range.

 

What are the Causes of Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism?

The causes of thyroid stimulating hormone being over or under produced can be associated with the improper functioning of the thyroid gland. One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder that results in the body making antibodies that destroy parts of the thyroid gland. While the higher levels of tsh causes can be attributed to a condition wherein the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland leading to their overactivity.

 

Can the TSH test be Done at Home?

There are many tsh home test kits available today that could help you check for an over or underactive thyroid. These all in one kit are easy to use and come with detailed instructions. If you intend to use them to ensure that they are FDA approved. The TSH test cost becomes very affordable with these home kits. One can get qualitative results in as little as ten minutes. These kits might bring down the thyroid stimulating hormone test cost but its important to follow up with a doctor in case of a positive result in doubt.

 

Does this test pose any risk?

 The test procedure usually does not have any potential threats to risks. You will only feel a small prick when the needle is put in. This seldom results in slight pain or bruising which gradually disappears.

 

Understanding results of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

Reference RangeInterpretation
0.0-9.0 IU/mLNormal

* ‘A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’.

Conclusion

If your blood works suggest thyroid gland abnormalities it is important that you get yourself further screened to detect the cause. All the hospitals and diagnostic centre’s carry out the test at affordable prices. The variation in thyroid stimulating hormone test price could depend upon where the test is being carried out. You can inquire about the TSH test price before visiting the hospital or the diagnostic centre.

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5321289/
  2. https://labtestsonline.org/tests/thyroid-stimulating-hormone-tsh
  3. http://www.dietvsdisease.org/normal-tsh-levels/
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350289
  5. http://www.uclahealth.org/endocrine-center/tsh-thyroid-stimulating-hormone-test
  6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/17556-thyroid-blood-tests