Despite its small size, the thyroid gland plays a major role in our body. The butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of our neck functions by producing and releasing the hormones that control our metabolism. When it creates too much or too little of thyroid hormones, numerous unpleasant symptoms are likely to occur. That’s why we should check the thyroid regularly. Here’s your ultimate guide to understanding the thyroid levels – and what to do when your thyroid makes you sick.
Thyroid gland – Understanding how it works
As a significant part of our endocrine system, the thyroid gland works by producing, storing, and releasing hormones – Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) – into the bloodstream. The gland needs iodine to function properly, and we usually take it from food. But, sometimes, the thyroid gland can be overactive, causing hyperthyroidism, or underactive, leading to the health condition known as hypothyroidism.
In fact, the thyroid gland’s activity is regulated in the brain, more specifically in the hypothalamus. The TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) produced in the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland – or hypophysis – to notify the thyroid gland to generate less or more thyroid hormones. That’s why when your doctor tells you to check the thyroid levels, you’ll have to test the levels of TSH, as well. These three hormones – T3, T4, and TSH are indicators of your thyroid health.
As for the role played by T3 and T4 in our body, they regulate the speed with which the metabolism and cells work. Thus, when you have hyperthyroidism (with high levels of thyroid hormones), you might experience more rapid heartbeat, digestive problems, nervousness, hand trembling, and other symptoms. If performed at the right moment, a thyroid test could underlie the small changes that could elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Interpretation of thyroid tests
First of all, do you really need a thyroid test? Statistics show that approximately 25% of women over 60 years of age have inadequate thyroid hormones levels. The blood tests run to determine the levels of TSH and the portion of T4 available to the cells – also known as free T4 or FT4 – will underline whether you have subclinical or clinical hypothyroidism.
In many cases, the thyroid condition remains undetected. In the absence of symptoms or believing that it’s a completely different health problem, most people never find out that they have hyperthyroidism. Almost 60% of individuals with thyroid problems do not test their thyroid levels, though they should. Here’s a short guide on how to interpret the results of your thyroid function test:
- TSH – has a normal test range between 0.4 and 5.0 milli-international units in a liter of blood (mIU/L). When you have a TSH reading above 5-6, mIU/L, it means that you are at risk of developing hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland is underactive, produces too little thyroid hormones, and the thyroid stimulating hormone is more elevated than it should. Several symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression, fatigue, weight gain, brittle fingernails and hair, and even thyroid nodules. When left untreated, an elevated TSH can increase the risk of getting thyroid cancer. But when the TSH level is lower than 0.4 mIU/L, you must visit an endocrinologist and find whether you have hyperthyroidism.
- T3 – the typical ranges of Serum Triiodothyronine (T3) are between 100 and 200 ng/dl. As for the Free Triiodothyronine I – or FT3 – found in blood, it should be somewhere between 230 and 690 pg/d. However, this test is required only when the TSH and T4 results suggest a thyroid condition. When you have abnormally high levels of T3, your doctor will establish the diagnosis of Grave’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder associated with an overactive thyroid gland.
- T3RU – or T3 resin uptake – measures the TBG, which stands for thyroxin-binding globulin. It is usually low when the T3 level is high. When TBG is abnormally low – considering that the normal range is 12-20 ug/dl – you might have a kidney problem and you need further investigations. TBG levels under 10 ug/dl could be a sign of not getting enough protein from the diet, as well. As for elevated TBG results, it could be a sign of high estrogen levels. In other words, you might be pregnant, obese, under hormone replacement therapy, or you consumed too many foods high in estrogen.
- T4 – is, alongside TSH, the most common thyroid function test. The normal range of serum thyroxine is between 4.6 and 12 ug/dl. FT4 – or Free Thyroxine – has a value of 0.7-1.9 ng/dl, while FT4F – or Free Thyroxine Fraction – is normally between 0.03 and 0.005%. Elevated levels of T4 indicate hyperthyroidism, and it usually occurs when the TSH levels are low. On the other hand, when the T4 results are low, your thyroid levels show that the thyroid gland is underactive. In both cases, your doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment to rebalance thyroid function and restore your overall well-being.
When is the time to check the thyroid levels?
Individuals with certain conditions are at risk for getting a thyroid disease. It’s not mandatory to have any hypothyroidism symptoms to check the TSH levels. Sometimes, your medication affects the thyroid function and causes abnormal blood tests. Thus, you are advised to perform a thyroid function test once a year. Furthermore, if you have type 1 diabetes, Turner syndrome, Addison’s disease, Coeliac disease, or Down’s syndrome, you probably are familiarized with thyroid function tests. That’s because there’s a link between autoimmune diseases and thyroid problems.
People who have an autoimmune condition could develop hypo or hyperthyroidism. The numbers are edifying: if the prevalence rates for thyroid disease in the general population is approximately 6.6%, the risk of getting a thyroid condition if you already have diabetes is 10.81%. Although diabetes doesn’t cause thyroid diseases, you are advised to perform thyroid function tests regularly to make sure the TSH and T4 levels are in normal range. Plus, having your thyroid gland out of whack while dealing with diabetes can be difficult, and it can aggravate many diabetic conditions.
Should you worry about the thyroid levels?
First of all, the currently accepted range for TSH and FT4 vary from hospital to hospital. Small differences and variations shouldn’t concern you. But when you also deal with anxiety, weight management problems, sleep issues, and fatigue, you ought to pay a visit to your doctor, and probably take Detoxadine as a natural thyroid treatment. The symptoms of thyroid condition can be present for too long, as well, and you might think it is something normal. However, when the nervousness, sleepiness, and digestive issues caused by hectic thyroid activity disrupt your routine, you must restore the balance of your endocrine system.
A significant fact you must consider is that several factors can influence the blood test and affect the thyroid levels. Did you take your pills in the morning, right before checking the TSH levels? The results could not be conclusive. Here are the most common factors that could affect your thyroid test results:
- Diet – foods rich in iodine – cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts –, nuts, and soy products have a direct impact on the thyroid gland. They increase the thyroid hormone production and could give different blood tests than you usually have. Our recommendation? Avoid changing your diet drastically before performing a thyroid function test.
- Pills – antidepressants, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, and cholesterol-lowering medicines interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and use thyroid hormones. Furthermore, iron and calcium supplements affect the thyroid gland’s activity. If you take any of these, your doctor will probably tell you to take a break until you tested your thyroid levels.
- Immune system – as crazy as it sounds, a common cold could wreak havoc on your thyroid hormones. A suppressed immunity due to getting sick is likely to snuff out your TSH results. What can you do? Postpone your thyroid function test until you get better. Otherwise, your thyroid levels could worry you, as the values will be slightly different than usual.
- Time – more exactly, the moment when you get tested. That’s because the thyroid levels are elevated during the night and go down during the day. Although the difference isn’t alarming, it could determine your doctor to change your dosage.
- Pregnancy – the entire endocrine system goes wild during pregnancy, as your developing baby needs a lot of your resources. In most of the cases, the endocrinologists increase the dosage of the thyroid medicine. Was your thyroid gland functioning normally before getting pregnant? In this case, you might have to recheck the FT4 and TSH. Why? Because 3% of pregnant women have hypothyroidism, and elevated levels of thyroid stimulating hormone can cause serious pregnancy complications, including miscarriage. Scroll down to learn more about why you should check your thyroid levels when you’re pregnant.
The ultimate guide of thyroid gland in pregnancy
After conception, numerous things change. You will feel more tired than before, the skin will become drier, you will gain weight, and you will probably deal with digestive problems, as well. Yes, it is normal during pregnancy. But the truth is that they could also signal hypothyroidism. In this thyroid condition, the TSH levels are high, and the thyroid hormone production is reduced. As a consequence, the thyroid gland can enlarge, and it could harm your baby.
The experts explain that pregnancy is a perfect time for thyroid problems to develop the symptoms. The hormonal changes increase the risk of hypothyroidism, and your child is totally dependent on your supply of hormones in the first 10-12 weeks after conception. The brain development relies on your TSH, T3, and T4, and without it, your baby might not grow normally.
Because thyroid diseases are known to endanger a developing fetus, numerous doctors recommend pregnant women to be tested and screened for thyroid conditions. With the right dosage of thyroid replacement medication, your pregnancy – as well as your child – will progress as it should. If your thyroid gland was already too active or lazy, you are advised to have your thyroid levels tested right in the first days after conception, and you’ll probably have to increase the dosage of your thyroid pills.
Untreated hypothyroidism in pregnancy can lead to premature delivery or miscarriage. Here’s the proof: an elevated TSH reading – above 2.5 – was linked to impaired mental development and even death. As for TSH levels over 4.5 mU/L, it increases the risk of miscarriage significantly. Therefore, it is crucial to adjust the dosage of thyroid replacement medication in early pregnancy.
Thyroid weight gain correlations
Nowadays, obesity is one of the most significant health risks for people of all ages. Children and old individuals alike have a high BMI (Body Mass Index) and, as studies suggest, it may be correlated with the thyroid function. Why is obesity dangerous for us? It increases the risk for numerous health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, heart conditions, and mental illnesses, and will lead to low quality of life.
Depending on how little or how much hormone your thyroid produces, you might deal with weight management problems. If your thyroid gland is underactive and the TSH levels are high, chances are you have a low BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and an elevated BMI. In this case, losing weight is difficult, but not impossible; when you want to accelerate the fat burning process naturally, Total Thyroid is a potent health supplement that can assist you to restore the thyroid function and eliminate the unwanted fat deposits. Buy it from here.
But if you have reduced TSH levels due to an overactive thyroid gland, this condition is generally associated with weight loss. Do you want to maintain your body weight? Well, you’ll have to ingest more calories. Then again, if you eat too much – more than your body needs – chances are you will store this energy for later use. Yes, your system will make fat deposits here and there, and you will probably not enjoy the results.
How to use your thyroid levels for weight loss
Once you find out that the thyroid gland doesn’t function properly, you will understand the reason why you deal with body weight problems. What you must do is request the assistance of your doctor to restore healthy thyroid levels and burn the calories more effectively. As a consequence, you might have to take prescribed medication that increases or reduces your thyroid hormones.
The ultimate guide to understanding the thyroid levels isn’t complete without the recommendation to seek for medical help whenever you suspect a thyroid condition. Does your thyroid gland make you fat? Check the levels of TSH, T3, and T4 regularly, and learn how to stay fit and healthy using your own body!