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Thyroid Testing - all you need to know

Thyroid Testing 101 – The Basics

If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, the very first step is testing. But often, doctors will give you a single blood test and leave it at that. From a naturopathic point of view, there is much more to the thyroid aside from that one single test! So let’s look at the thyroid testing basics when you’re working with a naturopath.

The thyroid panel tests

The tests conducted for the thyroid are often referred to as a thyroid panel. Here’s a bit about the tests you’ll have done as part of a panel.

TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

The body triggers TSH to be released when there are insufficient thyroid hormones in the blood. High levels can indicate low thyroid function, and low levels indicate high thyroid function. It is the one test that most doctors do before deciding whether to do further testing.

T4 - Thyroxine

This is the first thyroid hormone you produce. It travels to the organs, where it is converted to the active form, T3. Both the total level and the ratio to T3 is important. You may have normal T4 levels, but if you don’t have a good level of T3, you will experience symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Free T3 - Triiodothyronine

As we’ve said, T3 is the active form of T4. However, there are two types of T3. This type is the active form that does all of the metabolism boosting that thyroid hormones are known for. If you have low levels of T3, you will experience hypothyroid symptoms. If levels are too high, you will experience hyperthyroid symptoms.

The other form is reverse T3 – an inactive form. This is the form that the body converts to when under stress or if T3 levels are too high. Unfortunately, the body can switch to rT3 all too often, reducing the level of T3 below optimal.

Thyroid Antibodies – anti-TPO and anti-TG

When the body is in a state of autoimmunity, it will produce antibodies for parts of the body. In the case of autoimmune thyroid disease, this can present as anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and anti-thyroid peroxidise antibodies. The presence of antibodies is a sign of an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s.

Should I get reverse T3 checked?

Many people ask about getting reverse T3, or rT3, tested as part of their thyroid panel. In some cases, I do recommend it. However, it is not a bulk-billed test, and is therefore an expensive test to get done. So if you’re on a tight budget, we might not test it unless I believe it’s warranted.

Other tests that might help

Depending on what symptoms and history you present with, I might also recommend you get tested for:

  • A viral panel, including Epstein Barr – a common thyroid trigger

  • HbA1c – to screen for any problems with blood sugar regulation

  • H pylori – if gut issues are implicated

  • Cortisol and DHEA – to see the balance of stress hormones

  • Salivary sex hormones – if hormone imbalances are implicated

  • Stool testing – if parasites and other digestive issues are a possibility

The purpose of these tests is to see triggers for the thyroid issues. If we know what your triggers are, we can start to reverse the effects of them!

It’s important to remember that testing is only part of the big picture. Some people will have minimal symptoms and sky-high antibodies, whereas others will have multiple thyroid symptoms with only slight abnormalities in the results. So how you feel is just as important as what your body tells us!

If you’re ready to work on your thyroid symptoms with a professional, now is your chance. Book in your appointment today, and together, we’ll find the best way to keep you feeling healthy and happy.

If you’re ready to work on your thyroid symptoms with a professional, now is your chance. Book in your appointment today, and together, we’ll find the best way to keep you feeling healthy and happy.


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