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It may take a few months to stabilize on thyroid medications

thyroid medication

You are started off at a low dose (too much can be a big shock to a system that’s been deficient), and lab tests are used to determine if the dose needs to increase. After first starting a medication, retest your thyroid function tests within 4-8 weeks. Always request a copy of your lab tests and become familiar with the most important thyroid tests.

The Thyroid Screening Test:There are many blood tests that can be done to assess thyroid function, and I have found the following tests to be the most useful: TSH test, free T3, free T4, thyroid antibodies and a thyroid ultrasound. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) – This is a pituitary hormone that responds to low/high amounts of circulating thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Hormone Level Tests:Free T3 and Free T4 – These tests measure the levels of active thyroid hormone circulating in the body. When these levels are low, but your TSH tests in the normal range, this may lead your physician to suspect a rare type of hypothyroidism known as central hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Antibodies:There are various types of antibodies against the thyroid gland that can be detected in thyroid disease. The thyroid antibodies indicate that the thyroid gland has been recognized as a foreign invader by the immune system and that the thyroid gland is under attack. These antibodies can be detected for decades before changes in the other blood tests are seen.

Most Common Hashimoto’s Antibodies:Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO antibodies) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TG antibodies). Most people with Hashimoto’s will have an elevation of one or both of these antibodies. TPO antibodies are the most common and have been reported in 5-38% of the population, depending on the study! Thyroid antibodies are often elevated for decades before a change in TSH is seen in Hashimoto’s.

Most Common Graves’ Antibodies:The most common antibodies found in Graves’ disease are TSH receptor antibodies, including thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) — this marker is elevated in >90% of people with Graves’ disease. TSH receptor binding antibody (TRAb), also known as TSH-binding inhibiting Immunoglobulin or TBII, is elevated in >50% of people with Graves’ disease. Both labs can be used for diagnostic purposes and monitored to track remission.

The Thyroid Ultrasound:Some individuals may have thyroid disease but may not have detectable alterations in their blood work. A thyroid ultrasound will help you and your physician determine whether you have changes consistent with Hashimoto’s (such as a rubbery thyroid, shrunken thyroid, enlarged thyroid, or if abnormal growths in the thyroid are present).

The Reverse T3 Test:The reverse T3 (rT3) test measures how much of the free active T3 is able to bind at thyroid receptors. RT3 is produced in stressful situations and binds to thyroid receptors but turns them off instead of activating them.

Your Symptoms:Last but not least, your symptoms should serve as the important thyroid test. Be sure to listen to your body — only you know it’s subtle messages!Do you have any symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as: Tangled hair, hair loss, eyebrow thinning/loss, puffy face, brain fog, sadness/apathy, fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain, joint pain, heavy periods?Or symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as: Irritability, agitation, mood swings, restlessness, palpitations, heat intolerance, rapid heart rate, scant periods, weight loss, insomnia, excess sweating?


October 18, 2018
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