Thyroid conditions can seem vague at first. Common symptoms include lethargy, weight gain, and skin problems. When left untreated, these symptoms can have a major impact on the quality of life. To better understand their cause, thyroid testing is advised.
What Is A Thyroid Panel?
Thyroid function is tested through a series of tests called a thyroid panel. These tests are designed to measure the natural regulation process of the body.
The thyroid gland controls metabolism, mood, and overall energy levels. A healthy thyroid produces two primary hormones: Thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones are essential for a proper thyroid panel.
Triiodothyronine (T3) regulates the body’s heart rate as well as digestive functions and brain development. It is responsible for helping to maintain strong bones and control muscles. This hormone is directly secreted into the bloodstream. Too much triiodothyronine can cause a goitre and weight loss. Menstrual cycles may also become irregular.
Thyroxine is the prohormone of triiodothyronine. It is responsible for activating T3 so it can improve mental health, regulate menstrual cycles, and build a healthy digestive system. The difference between these two hormones is due to the process in which they are delivered. The thyroid gland produces more thyroxine, but delivers less triiodothyronine.
A thyroid test measures the level of hormones that can be found in an individual’s bloodstream. These types of tests can detect a variety of disorders including Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
What Does The Panel Show?
A full thyroid panel shows:
- Thyroid stimulating hormone
- T4 levels
- T3 levels
- TPO antibodies
- Reverse T3
Each element has its own standard measurement for what is considered healthy.
Thyroid stimulating hormones are found in the pituitary gland in the brain. TSH regulates thyroid hormones so they stay at the correct level. Although these hormones are produced in the brain, the test is a simple blood test.
TPO antibodies can indicate a thyroid disorder such as Hashitmoto’s disease. This autoimmune disorder specifically affects the thyroid as if it is a foreign element. High levels of TPO can still correlate with normal TSH levels.
Reverse T3 is a byproduct of T4. Although it cannot perform the same metabolic activity as T3, it can be used as an adaptive mechanism. This can be especially important if a patient is experiencing stress, surgery, or even malnutrition.
Measuring Thyroid Levels
Thyroid levels change throughout the course of life. A normal level at birth is significantly different from the thyroid levels of a pregnant woman or someone going through menopause.
For an individual who is not pregnant and does not have a history of thyroid cancer, TSH levels are usually between 0.5 and 5.0 miU/L. A normal T4 level for adults can range from 5.0 to 12.0ug/dL. T3 levels have a range from 80-220 ng/dL. To better understand the levels that are within normal range for you, seeing a trained medical professional is crucial.
High levels of TSH combined with a low thyroid hormone level can indicate primary hypothyroidism. This can cause symptoms such as weight gain, depression, difficulty concentrating, hair thinning, and trouble sleeping.
A low TSH level combined with a high thyroid hormone level indicates primary hyperthyroidism. Unlike hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, anxiety, and an increase in energy. Graves’ disease and thyroid inflammation can cause this.
Thyroid Tests Can Uncover Specific Diseases
Mild hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be difficult to detect without a thyroid panel. Issues surrounding mood may be diagnosed as a psychiatric condition without a blood test. Since depression or anxiety is common with thyroid issues, many people visit a psychologist or psychiatrist rather than an endocrinologist.
Thyroiditis can be diagnosed with the right testing. Thyroiditis is a type of thyroid inflammation that injures the thyroid gland. This initially creates hyperthyroidism before developing hypothyroidism. Thyroiditis may require long term treatment with hormone replacement medication.
Graves’ disease happens due to an overproduction of hormones. Symptoms can include heat sensitivity, a fine tremor, menstrual changes, bulging eyes, fatigue, and a rapid heart rate. The symptoms are wide-ranging and it is difficult to treat without a blood test. Anyone can be affected by this disease, but it is more common in women.
When To Seek Help
Many thyroid conditions present with a wide-range of vague symptoms. While feeling under the weather is a normal occurrence at some point, long periods of persistent symptoms may be an indication of something more serious.
If you are experiencing lethargy, bulging eyes, depression, hair thinning, tremors, or an enlarged thyroid gland, visiting an endocrinologist can help. Most people have a variety of symptoms and do not exhibit every discomfort.
Medical professionals can help diagnose thyroid complications. By administering a blood test, they can detect hormone irregularities in the body. This is a short test and results are usually ready within one to two weeks. Call us at 205-352-9141.