Do I Need to Get my Thyroid Tested?
Did you know that 30 million adults suffer from thyroid imbalance? Thyroid dysfunction often goes undetected due to a lack of proper testing and symptoms that can be closely related to other health issues. The American Thyroid Association estimates that as many as 60% of people with thyroid disease are not aware that they have an issue with their thyroid function. However, thyroid dysfunctions can progress over time if undetected and can lead to many severe illnesses like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer. Thus, thyroid testing is necessary to weed out any debilitating diseases that could be impacting your health.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped hormone gland located at the base of your neck that is responsible for the body’s metabolism and other functions by releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.
A wide range of factors such as genetics, hormone imbalances, mineral deficiencies, and environmental pollutants can interfere with thyroid production. The best thing you can do is get your thyroid tested to make sure there are no imbalances in your levels. If imbalances are found, it’s best to treat them before your symptoms and hormone levels worsen.
What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Imbalances and Disorders?
Statistics show that women are seven times more likely than men to develop thyroid problems, facing a one in five chance of developing a problem particularly during the perimenopausal years when hormones start to fluctuate. However, women and men of all ages can be affected by a thyroid imbalance. The most common illnesses associated with thyroid imbalances are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Below are typical symptoms of each to be on the lookout for:
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight despite exercise and diet
- Feeling cold all the time (when others don’t)
- Low energy and stamina, especially in the evening
- Memory lapses or slow/fuzzy thinking
- Dry, thinning, itchy skin
- Dry or brittle hair and nails
- Hair loss
- Irregular bowel habits
- Menstrual irregularities
- Sudden or significant weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Nervousness or irritability
Hypothyroidism can be caused by a number of factors like radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, an iodine deficiency, and some medications. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s occurs when the body develops antibodies that attack the thyroid gland and suppress thyroid functioning. People with hypothyroidism usually need to be on medication for the rest of their lives to treat their symptoms and balance their thyroid levels.
Hyperthyroidism is the opposite of hypothyroidism and occurs when the thyroid is overproducing thyroid hormones, specifically the hormone thyroxine (T4). Causes of hyperthyroidism can range from hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, or the autoimmune disease called Graves Disease. The antibodies associated with Graves Disease actually override the normal regulation of the thyroid and cause the gland to produce thyroid hormones excessively. Again, most people with hyperthyroidism will need to treat their symptoms and hormone imbalance with medication.
Getting tested for a thyroid imbalance is extremely important for people of all ages and genders. Pregnant women are most at risk due to the problems thyroid diseases can cause to an unborn fetus – miscarriages, congenital hypothyroidism, and birth defects can occur if the thyroid hormones are not properly balanced.
How Do I Test my Thyroid for an Imbalance?
At Cherokee Customs Rx, we offer a minimally invasive Thyroid Imbalance Test that checks whether or not your thyroid hormone levels are within normal range. All it takes is a finger prick – no blood draw! Below is a list of all the hormones we test and what each hormone indicates:
Produced by the pituitary gland, TSH acts on the thyroid gland to stimulate production of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4).
Free T4 – Thyroxine
The predominant hormone produced by the thyroid gland, T4 is converted to its active form, T3, within cells.
Total T4 – Thyroxine
Total T4 includes both free T4 and protein-bound T4, and is an indicator of the thyroid gland’s ability to synthesize, process and release T4 into the bloodstream.
Free T3 – Triiodothyronine
T3 is the active thyroid hormone that regulates the metabolic activity of cells.
TPOab – Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
Thyroid peroxidase is an enzyme involved in thyroid hormone production. The body produces antibodies, including TPOab, that attack the thyroid gland in autoimmune thyroiditis and Hashimoto’s. Testing TPOab levels can diagnose these conditions.
Tgbn – Thyroglobulin
A protein rich in tyrosine, the residues of which when bound to iodine become the building blocks of T3 and T4. If iodine levels are low, thyroglobulin accumulates, thus high levels indicate insufficient iodine for healthy thyroid function.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, we recommend testing your thyroid levels. Reach out to us to find out more about our tests and how we can help keep your health on track at our Health Testing contact page.