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TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone)

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Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) plays a critical role in your body's metabolism. Produced and secreted by the pituitary gland, TSH acts directly on the thyroid. It instructs the thyroid to create two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), both of which regulate the body's metabolism.

If your TSH levels are not at a normal level, your thyroid or your pituitary gland may not be functioning properly. At Health Testing Centers, we can provide a convenient lab test that will help you and your physician know if additional testing is needed.

What Does a TSH Test Show?

A TSH blood test determines the level of TSH in your blood. This measure can give you insight about the functioning of your thyroid and your pituitary gland. For adults, a normal TSH level falls between 0.4-4.2 milliunits per liter (mU/L).

If your TSH levels are too high, you could be experiencing hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid isn't sufficiently active. Symptoms reported by people with hypothyroidism include sluggishness, weight gain, dry skin, brittle hair, constipation, and feelings of coldness. Women may also experience heavy periods.

If your TSH levels are too low, there's a possibility you might have hyperthyroidism, a condition where the thyroid is overactive. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include a rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, weight loss, poorer concentration, increased restlessness, and diarrhea. Menstrual irregularities may also be seen in women with hyperthyroidism.

Preparing for a TSH Test

Prior to your TSH blood test, make sure that you wont be undergoing any test involving radioactive materials or the use of X-rays with iodine dyes. Certain medications may also interfere with the test, leading to inaccurate results. These include corticosteroids, lithium, dopamine, and various thyroid medications. One suggestion is to get your test done before you take your medication on a given day. Fasting isn't required when preparing for a TSH blood test.

Health Testing Centers encourages you to review your results with your doctor. It is important to interpret TSH results by seeing how they relate to your symptoms and fit into the overall picture of your health. Your results may also indicate the need for other testing that will provide a more complete picture of your metabolic functioning and the activity of your thyroid and pituitary gland.

Related Laboratory Tests

The TSH blood test is often ordered with the Thyroid Profile, a lab test for three other important indicators of thyroid functioning: T3 Uptake (THBR), T4 (thyroxine), and T7 (free thyroxine index).

The TSH blood test and Thyroid Profile test may also be purchased together in one package referred to as the Thyroid Function Test Level I. Taking the other thyroid-related tests in addition to the TSH blood test will allow you to better understand the source of your hormonal issues. For example, the problem might stem from the pituitary gland and not the thyroid.

Other tests to look into include more comprehensive measures of the body's organ function. One such test is the Basic Health Screening (CMP 12+CBC+UA), which includes measurements of glucose, cholesterol, iron, sodium, calcium, and other important indicators of healthy bodily functioning. The most compelling reason to consider this kind of test is to check if there are other problems in your body.

Symptoms associated with poor thyroid functioning might actually stem from another problem, such as low iron storage. Call today and speak with our Health Testing Centers highly trained nurse if you have additional questions about thyroid testing. You can reach us at 877-511-LABS.