Ever had a doctor tell you to take a Thyroid profile or a Thyroid panel and wondered what it meant? Go no further as we at emHealth will tell you all about it!
What is a Thyroid?
Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is present in front of the lower neck region. It lies below the Adam’s apple, along the windpipe. It produces 2 hormones, T3(triiodothyronine) and T4(thyroxine). These hormones are required for body cells to function properly.
What problems can occur in the Thyroid?
A Thyroid disease can occur when the Thyroid gland either produces too much or too little T3 or T4. Hypothyroidism is when the Thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough T3 and T4, and Hyperthyroidism is when the Thyroid gland produces more than necessary T3 and T4. Both of these conditions cause different symptoms.
Hypothyroidism, also known as Underactive Thyroid, is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. It can cause symptoms such as tiredness, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, depression, muscle aches and weakness, dry skin and more.
Hyperthyroidism, also known as Overactive Thyroid, is when the thyroid gland produces more than enough hormones. It can cause symptoms such as rapid heart rate, anxiety, weight loss, tremors in hands, sensitive to heat, mood swings, and more.
Who can have Thyroid disorders?
Thyroid disorders can happen right from birth and across all ranges, so people of all ages and genders are susceptible to Thyroid disorders. Higher risk of Thyroid disorders occur in
- People that have a family history of Thyroid disorders
- People that take medication high in iodine
- Who are older than 60, especially in women
- Have had a past Thyroid condition
- Women in the later stages of life are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be affected by a Thyroid disorder
What is a Thyroid profile?
A Thyroid profile is a series of tests that can be taken to diagnose Thyroid disorders. It typically includes a TSH (Thyroid stimulating test) test, along with either “free T4” and “free T3” tests or “total T4” and “total T3” tests. Thyroid profiles with “free” T3/T4 are called as a free thyroid profiles and thyroid profiles with “total” T3/T4 are called as total thyroid profiles. Usually, all three tests are taken together from the same sample to avoid unnecessary time waste in case the TSH test result is abnormal.
How Thyroid tests are taken:
Thyroid tests are done on a patient’s blood sample. Blood is usually extracted from a vein, and a minimum of 2.5ml of blood is extracted. Fasting is necessary before a Thyroid test/ Thyroid Profile. A patient should not eat for 10-12 hours before taking a Thyroid test for the results to be unbiased and proper.
What is the difference between a Free Thyroid and Total Thyroid?
Free Thyroid tests include a Free T3 and Free T4 test while Total Thyroid tests include Total T3 and Total T4 test. A total T3/T4 test measures the total T3/T4 in your blood cells while a free T3/T4 measures the T3/T4 hormones that are not bound to any proteins. Either test can be used to diagnose Thyroid disorders. Consult your doctor or medical professional before deciding to take either test.
Should you take Thyroid disorder medication before taking the test?
Consult your doctor as it varies from doctor to doctor. Certain doctors prefer the patient to take the Thyroid medication before taking the test while certain doctors prefer if the patient doesn’t take the medication.
Consult your doctor or medical professional before taking the test.
How a typical result looks like:
A typical result format changes from lab to lab, but all of them contain basic information like:
- Result of your test
- Normal value and reference ranges
- Interpretation of what your value means
In the above case, the patient has normal Free T3 and Free T4 levels, but a very high TSH level. For interpreting what the results mean, the tabular column explains the possible effects on the body.
In this case, the second row of the column has the result we require, (where TSH is raised while Free T3 and Free T4 are within range). We can interpret what problems we have with the column’s help.
Always consult a medical professional as prior medical conditions can and will affect the results.