Comprehensive Thyroid Testing

Wellness Vision, Newcastle

Testing for Overactive Thyroid or Underactive Thyroid

Suboptimal thyroid function is often not detected, due to problems with the way thyroid function is generally tested!

Many patients believe that their thyroid is “fine”, as when it was tested the results were “normal”. However, what most clients don’t understand is that the routine test for thyroid function doesn’t actually involve testing your thyroid hormones at all, but instead gauges your thyroid function by testing a pituitary hormone called TSH (or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).

TSH (or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is the hormone released by your pituitary gland to stimulate thyroid gland hormone production. When stimulated by TSH, the thyroid gland produces T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) which is then converted to T3 (active thyroid hormone) in the liver. T3 is involved in stimulating a vast array of processes throughout the body, including the processes regulating your metabolism, energy and mental function.

If your TSH levels are outside the reference range, then further investigations are conducted. However, if your results fall into the upper or lower end of the reference range, this can mean that your thyroid function is sub-optimal and therefore not so “normal”.

As a general overview, abnormal TSH levels indicate the following:

  • High TSH levels – may indicate an underactive thyroid. Your thyroid needs more TSH stimulation by the pituitary gland to do its job, with high TSH levels generally seen in Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
  • Low TSH levels – may indicate an overactive thyroid. Your thyroid requires less TSH stimulation by your pituitary gland, with low TSH levels usually seen (although not always) in Hyperthyroidism or Grave’s Disease.

These examples are generalisations, as sometimes TSH can be high when thyroid function is overactive and visa versa. That is why comprehensive testing is essential, if you have symptoms of possible thyroid imbalance.

Symptoms of a possible under-active thyroid include:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss and/or dryness
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation

Symptoms of a possible over-active thyroid include:

  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Poor sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shakiness or tremors

Problems with conventional thyroid testing

  1. There is a large reference range of “normal”. Many women have their TSH levels tested and even if they are higher (or lower) than optimal levels, they are told that their thyroid function is normal. In reality, these variations in TSH may be a sign that their thyroid function is out of balance and should be addressed before more serious issues arise.
  2. TSH may still be normal when thyroid hormone levels are abnormal. There are many cases where the actual thyroid hormone levels are out of balance, even though the TSH is normal. These imbalances can only be detected if T4 and T3 hormone levels are measured.
  3. You may have high Reverse T3 levels. You may also be over producing the inactive form of T3, called reverse T3 (rT3). Under normal conditions T4 will be converted to both T3 and rT3, however under certain conditions more rT3 is produced than is ideal. Excess rT3 can block thyroid receptors resulting in ‘sick euthyroid syndrome’, where there is normal T3 levels and raised rT3 levels, resulting in symptoms of low thyroid function.
  4. You may be deficient in crucial thyroid nutrients. Thyroid hormone production requires many nutrients such as iodine, zinc, iron, selenium and B12. If imbalances are not addressed, thyroid function will continue to suffer (along with other areas of the body that rely on these nutrients).
  5. Raised levels of thyroid antibodies can be another area of concern. Thyroid antibodies are caused by an autoimmune issue, where your body is attacking your thyroid gland. Thyroid antibodies can be present in both high or low thyroid function and are often missed in the early stages of thyroid disease.

Comprehensive Thyroid Testing may include:

  • TSH, Free T4, Free T3
  • Reverse T3
  • Thyroid antibodies (including Thyroid receptor antibodies or TRAB)
  • Iodine testing
  • Selenium testing
  • Zinc testing

We also like to work with your medical practitioner when thyroid medications are necessary, to ensure that important nutritional and lifestyle factors are addressed.

Comprehensive Thyroid Testing is a more accurate way of assessing thyroid function, compared to TSH testing alone.