Having a thyroid panel test can help you see how well your thyroid is working and whether you are experiencing symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or and overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Your thyroid is the small gland that is characterized by its butterfly shape that sits at the front of your neck in the area of the trachea. It excretes necessary thyroid hormones. These hormones affect how your body regulates temperature and uses energy. Almost every organ in your body is brought into play, including the heart.
Thyroid Panel Test
A panel test will include the following:
• TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
• Free T4 (thyroxine)
• Free T3 (triiodothyronine)
TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
TSH testing includes determining the amount of TSH that is in your blood. The level of TSH in your bloodstream will help you know whether you have an underactive or overactive thyroid. If you have a high TSH level in your blood, you probably have a thyroid that is underactive or hypothyroidism. What this means is that your thyroid gland is not making sufficient hormone.
If the TSH level is low, you may have a thyroid that is overactive. If your thyroid is making too much hormone, the pituitary gland will discontinue making the TSH and releasing it into your bloodstream. With abnormal TSH results, further testing will be necessary to find the root of the problem.
A T4 test will allow your doctor to determine what is affecting your thyroid. The testing for T4 is part of the thyroid panel, particularly if the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test comes back with irregular results.
The thyroid emits a hormone which is called thyroxine, or T4. This particular hormone plays a part in your body’s functioning, especially with the metabolic and growth processes. Part of the T4 remains as free T4, which means there is no bonding to protein in the blood. It is useful and available to your body. Most T4 hormone found in the bloodstream is attached or bound to protein.
These two forms of T4 found in your body require a total T4 and a free T4 for testing. The total test measures the T4 that has bonded with protein while the free T4 measures only the free T4 found in your blood. Because the T4 in this form is available for the body’s use, it is the best form for measurement and is usually your health care provider’s preference for testing purposes.
A higher than normal reading on a T4 test could mean you have hyperthyroidism. If the T4 level is low, it may mean you have hypothyroidism. Both readings, high or low, may not show thyroid problems as other issues can affect the levels.
There are drugs and other medications that can hinder T4 results, particularly total T4. Be sure and advise your doctor of any medications you’re taking before you go in for testing. You’ll probably be told to pause them so your results will be more accurate. It’s very important to let your doctor know whether you are pregnant.
Watch for the following drugs and medications that alter T4 levels
• any hormonal related drugs – oral contraceptives, estrogen and androgen
• cancer treatment drugs
• thyroid related drugs
In order to confirm a hyperthyroidism prognosis even with a normal T4 level, a T3 test will help to validate the results. T3, or triiodothyronine, is another hormone the thyroid produces. Both T3 and T4 control and regulate metabolic processes, body temperature and heart rate. With a normal T4 reading and a high T3 reading, measuring both levels of T4 and T3 can be helpful in determining whether you have hyperthyroidism.
The T3 hormone is free or bound. It circulates in your bloodstream. A T3 total tests measures both bound and unbound T3 in your blood. The test helps to determine if you’re having thyroid problems.
Extended blood tests, ultra sound, imaging or FNA for
• Graves’ disease – (one of the more frequent causes of hyperthyroidism}. A condition where your immune system inadvertently strikes and damages the thyroid.
• Hashimoto’s disease – (one of the more frequent cause of hypothyroidism)
• Hypopituitarism – Pituitary gland doesn’t produce necessary hormones
• Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis – when muscles weakness occurs after the excretion of excessive amounts of thyroid hormone
• Thyroid nodules/lumps – added thyroid tissue in this form can elevate thyroid hormones
• Thyroid cancer – testing consists of a biopsy where cells are extracted through (FNA) fine needle aspiration of the nodule or lump
Should you need further information concerning thyroid related issues, or want to make an appointment, we can help. Give us a call at 205-352-9141 and we’ll answer any of your questions or schedule an appointment.