Comprehensive Lab Testing for Hypothyroidism

April 25th, 2014

By Dr. Natasha Wolf, ND

Many of our patients, ask us how they can get a full blood work up for their thyroid condition.  In conventional medicine, primary care doctors are taught to order simply the TSH.  Endocrinologists will typically order a full panel including the free hormones and antibodies.

At Vitalia, we treat all types of hypothroidism with natural medicine.  Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to function adequately, resulting in reduced levels of thyroid hormone in the body. Cretinism is a type of hypothyroidism that occurs at birth and results in stunted physical growth and mental development. Severe hypothyroidism is called myxedema.

There are many causes of hypothyroidism. One common cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can also occur as a result of medical treatment, such as surgery or radiation to the thyroid gland.  Some drugs, such as lithium and phenylbutazone, may also induce hypothyroidism.

What does a Comprehensive Thyroid blood test include?

  • TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone): This is a hormone excreted by the pituitary gland to govern the function of the thyroid. TSH tells the thyroid to increase production of the thyroid hormones: T3 and T4. When T3 and T4 levels are adequate, it tells the pituitary to stop producing TSH. Therefore, a high TSH on your lab result indicates hypothyroid.  A low TSH is hyper-thyroid (or taking too much thyroid medication).  At Vitalia, we follow the guidelines of the American Endocrinologist Association and the naturopathic profession, and aim for the patient’s TSH to by between 0.35-2.5 for healthy functioning.
  • Free T3: T3 is an active hormone and interacts with many cells all over the body to affect metabolism, temperature, digestion, and energy.  It is put out by the thyroid gland.  Inactive T4 is converted to make T3
  • Free T4: The inactive thyroid hormone that is used to make T3.  This can be valuable information on a blood test.  For example, if Free T4 is high and Free T3 is low, this indicates a difficulty with conversion.
  • Anti-thyroglobulin: One of the antibodies that may be high in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Anti-TPO (Anti-thyroid Peroxidase antibodies): One of the antibodies that may be high in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

When to get you blood tested?

Research shows that the best time to test the thyroid is within 9 -24 hours after your last thyroid dose.  Most people take their thyroid upon waking, so, for most people the best time of day to go for the blood test would be around 2-5pm.  Fasting is not necessary (unless you are also getting additional bloodwork that does require fasting).

 

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