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Which Thyroid Function Test Should You Have?





by Stephen Smith
Copyright (c) 2009


There are a variety of thyroid function tests that may be performed in order to assess how well a person's thyroid gland is functioning rather than just the standard blood test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that is usually performed.

These thyroid tests involve collecting information from a variety of sources.

Here are the best thyroid tests to perform in order to determine thyroid function:


Blood Tests

Currently most doctors only test for TSH and only if it is out of the normal thyroid range do they then test for T3 and T4.

A normal TSH level was considered to be 0.5-5.0mIU/L.

However, this has since been revised to 0.2-2.5mIU/L by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

Unfortunately, the TSH result provides limited information because it is still possible to have a normal TSH level but exhibit hypothyroid symptoms because of the body's production of thyroid antibodies.

It is best for blood tests to be done for all 3 hormones (TSH, T4 and T3). However, blood tests for thyroid antibodies and rT3 can also provide useful information and will give a more comprehensive overview of results.


Physical Examination

There are many physical signs of an underactive thyroid .

These include: thinning eyebrows, swelling under the eyes, dry skin, puffy eyes, ridged or splitting fingernails, scalloping of the tongue and inflamed cheeks.

These physical symptoms of thyroid problems should always be considered in conjunction with the other thyroid function tests.


Symptom Assessment

There are many symptoms that can indicate thyroid problems.

All of these symptoms should be considered in conjunction with other tests.


Basal Body Temperature

One of the by-products of energy metabolism is the generation of heat. Since the thyroid gland is intimately involved in controlling metabolism, basal body temperature can be an effective thyroid function test.

Hypothyroidism often results in a lower body temperature (below 36.5 degrees) compared to a normal functioning thyroid gland.

People with hyperthyroidism are likely to have an elevated basal body temperature.

It is always best to test temperature first thing in the morning before arising. This is called the basal body temperature.


Nutritional Tests for Thyroid

There are a range of nutrients that are important for optimum thyroid functioning. Accordingly, nutritional testing can be a valuable thyroid function test. They can indicate possible deficiencies in the body that have caused the symptoms of thyroid problems.

Nutritional tests for thyroid can be done via blood, urine and hair.


Toxic Metal Testing

Certain metals are toxic to the body and can impair thyroid function, particularly when in high levels. Hair and urine tests can indicate whether there are excessive levels of toxic metals in a person's body.



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