Hypothyroidism is a type of a disease that can go unnoticed until it becomes severe. When the thyroid gland loses its ability to produce the right amount of thyroid hormones, it can take a while before symptoms become really prevalent. The existence of hypothyroidism can be very so subtle at first that a person suffering from the condition won’t be able to detect it until more serious complications arise. Nonetheless, when the disease becomes evident, the person would experience dry skin, fatigue and even intolerance in cold temperatures. If you fit the symptom pattern for hypothyroidism, it’s important to consult with a doctor to get a definitive diagnosis. A hypothyroid diagnosis is typically arrived at through a thyroid panel, which is an inexpensive and non-invasive test.
In diagnosing hypothyroidism, it’s necessary for the attending physician to consider the symptoms against the results of the TSH testing. TSH test stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. Since the condition is mainly the result of abnormal levels of thyroid hormones, specifically the lack of T3 and T4, allopathic medicine believes that this test proves to be a significant confirmation of the diagnosis. A person’s pituitary gland encourages the release of the thyroid hormone into the body. Thus, TSH testing is one of the first steps in properly diagnosing hypothyroidism. The TSH test is done by getting a blood sample from the patient. Markers are used to specifically determine the TSH levels of a person. Figures usually come in mU/L—milliunits per liter. The following provides the range of TSH results as provided under the guidelines of the American Thyroid Association:
2.5: at risk
4.0: mild hypothyroidism
This is not to say that the numbers are permanently fixed. Sometimes, the levels can vary depending on the person. Further, the levels can also change throughout the day, so constant monitoring or several tests may be needed.
The naturopathic medicine community tends to view TSH testing with some skepticism, believing that more comprehensive tests need to be performed to truly arrive at a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.
Even if the TSH test returns with normal results, still the possibility of having hypothyroidism cannot be ruled out. If symptoms indicate that there may be hypothyroidism then the doctor will have to test for the level of free T4. The free T4 basically refers to the total number of T4 thyroid hormone that can be found in the person’s tissues. There are many cases wherein a patient has high levels of TSH but their T4 levels are low. This is often referred to as primary hypothyroidism. This condition occurs in the event that the pituitary gland becomes aware of the problem with the thyroid gland. In this case, the pituitary gland is forced to produce more TSH in an attempt to get the thyroid to produce the necessary hormones again. Nonetheless, if the thyroid gland is not working at all, then it won’t follow any signals or instructions from the pituitary. Given that the T4 levels are very low then it’s an indicator that the person has hypothyroidism.
Anti-thyroid Microsomal Antibodies Testing
Another type of hypothyroid test would be the anti-thyroid microsomal antibodies testing. These antibodies are mainly produced to attack the cells of the thyroid. If the blood sample indicates that there is an increase in the number of such antibodies then it can only mean that there’s something wrong with the thyroid.
If you’re concerned that you may have hypothyroidism, it’s a smart idea to start with a TSH test. You may also want to seek out the help of a naturopathic doctor to get more in-depth information and insights that typically aren’t considered in Western medicine.