The thyroid stimulating hormone test (or TSH test) is one of the most common tests used to determine whether or not someone has an underactive or overactive thyroid. This test can be indicative of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, respectively. How does it work? And what does normal even mean when it comes to this blood test? You can find out all about TSH in this complete guide to what it is and why you need one.
Why do you need to get a TSH test?
A stimulating thyroid hormone (TSH) test is a blood test that measures how much thyroxine your thyroid gland produces. It can diagnose or monitor certain conditions, such as an underactive or overactive thyroid gland.
A normal TSH level indicates the thyroid gland produces enough hormones that the body’s cells and tissue need to function normally. High levels indicate that too much thyroxine is being released by the thyroid gland, while low levels suggest it’s not producing enough. If you have any concerns about your thyroid gland or if someone in your family has had hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, talk with a healthcare professional about getting tested for TSH.
How do you know when you should get tested?
Some people may notice underactive or overactive thyroid symptoms long before they get tested. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to get tested:
- Weight loss, despite increased appetite
- Increased heart rate, heart palpitations, higher blood pressure, nervousness, and excessive perspiration
- More frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea
- Muscle weakness, trembling hands
- Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
- Lighter or shorter menstrual periods
- Lethargy, slower mental processes, or depression
- Reduced heart rate
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Tingling or numbness in the hands
- Development of a goiter (an enlargement in your neck)
- Constipation, heavy menstrual periods, or dry skin and hair
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Either way, getting tested will help you identify what needs to be treated to feel better.
How can you get tested?
Testing can take place in three different ways. Each has its pros and cons.
In-home with a DIY kit – A popular option for those who are well-versed in the process and want to save some money on lab costs. You’ll have to go through the steps of drawing your blood, sending it to the lab for processing, then mailing it back to you once it’s ready.
In-home with a professional nurse – An option for those who don’t know how to draw their blood or are nervous about doing so themselves. The nurse will come to you and draw the blood needed for testing.
In-person at a clinic – A more traditional way of getting tested involves scheduling an appointment and showing up to get your blood drawn.
It’s important to get tested periodically to ensure your thyroid levels stay within the normal range. If they’re not, there are a few treatment options, including medication (Synthroid), radioactive iodine therapy, antithyroid medications, or removing part of the thyroid gland.
How much does a TSH test cost?
TSH testing costs will vary depending on the testing method used. At home, tests are available at various sites, but it’s best to get tested by a medical professional. In-home testing with a professional nurse is ideal as it comes with medical guidance and interpretation of results.
Typically these in-home lab tests are around $400. You’ll likely have to work through insurance and clinic pricing with clinic testing. You can expect to spend more if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost. Suppose you know your thyroid levels are out of whack but don’t know why a TSH test is a good way to figure it out without wasting time trying other treatments that won’t fix what’s wrong with you. The sooner you start treatment for hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the better off your life will be.
Treatment options for high TSH levels
Doctors will prescribe levothyroxine (a synthetic form of thyroid hormone) to patients with hyperthyroidism. This medication replaces the natural thyroid hormone that the body is not producing enough of. High TSH levels are very common. The most common treatment for this condition is taking thyroid hormone pills orally. These hormones replace the ones not being produced by the person’s thyroid gland.
Treatment options for low TSH levels
In hypothyroidism or low thyroid levels1, doctors may recommend a treatment option such as
- Thionamides – Antithyroid drugs inhibit the synthesis of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These are typically taken in pill form. They can be used to help restore your body’s natural hormone production.
- Beta-blockers – Medicine that blocks the effects of adrenaline on certain areas of the heart and blood vessels. These are often prescribed for people with an overactive heart. They work by blocking adrenaline receptors, reducing the number of heartbeats per minute.
- Radioactive iodine treatment is a medicine that changes the way the thyroid gland works. Iodine attaches to proteins in cells.
A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test measures the level of this hormone in the blood. The thyroid gland produces TSH to control how quickly our bodies use energy. If your body has too much or too little TSH, it can lead to health problems. A TSH test can help determine if your thyroid gland is underactive or overactive. It can also help find out if you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
It’s common for TSH levels to be too high or too low. There are treatment options available for each situation. For hypothyroidism, taking thyroid hormone replacement medicine will help make up for the lack of hormones produced by the gland. For hyperthyroidism, taking an antithyroid drug like methimazole will slow down the production of these hormones. Your doctor will work with you to devise a plan that works best for your specific needs!
Testing can be performed in a clinic or at home, whether you believe your TSH is too high or too low. In-home testing with a professional nurse gives you the best of both worlds. The in-home testing provides comfort and convenience, while the nurse provides a medical professional to answer any questions and help interpret your results.
Schedule your at Home Thyroid Test with Driphydration
Drip Hydration can help you determine if your thyroid is functioning properly with in-home tests . One of our medical professionals will visit your home to collect samples for testing and consult with you to help you understand your results. Give us a call or make an appointment by clicking the button below!Book a Thyroid Test
Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?
It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.
How accurate are lab tests?
Overall, lab tests are generally considered to be accurate and reliable, but there is always a chance of error and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to interpret the results.
How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?
A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
What does a routine blood test cover?
A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.
What does routine lab work cover?
Routine lab work typically includes a blood test, which is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. In addition to a blood test, routine lab work may also include other tests, such as urine and stool tests, which can help diagnose and monitor conditions related to the kidneys, liver, and digestive system.
Can a blood test identify cancer?
In some cases, cancer can be detected with a blood test. However, not all cancers can be detected with a blood test, and some blood tests can produce false-positive or false-negative results.
Can a blood test find other particular issues like problems with the heart, liver, or kidneys?
Yes, a blood test can sometimes be used to detect heart, liver, and kidney problems. Blood tests can also be used to measure the levels of certain substances in your blood, such as cholesterol and glucose, which can help diagnose and monitor conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, a blood test can check your blood count, which can provide information about the health of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, it is important to note that a blood test is not always able to detect heart, liver, and kidney problems, and other tests, such as imaging scans or biopsies, may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
What distinguishes a diagnostic test from a screening test?
A screening test is a type of test that is used to identify people who may be at increased risk of a particular condition, such as cancer or heart disease. In contrast, a diagnostic test is a type of test that is used to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. So, the main difference between a screening test and a diagnostic test is the purpose for which the test is being performed.
Why do lab tests occasionally need to be repeated?
One common reason is that the initial test results were inconclusive or unclear, and repeating the test can help provide more accurate results. Lab tests may also be repeated if the initial results were abnormal and more information is needed to diagnose or monitor a condition. In addition, some lab tests are designed to be repeated on a regular basis, such as to monitor the effectiveness of a treatment or to check for any changes in a person's health over time. Finally, lab tests may be repeated if the initial test was performed incorrectly, or if there was some other problem with the sample that was collected.
Does having normal lab test results indicate I shouldn't worry about anything?
Having normal lab test results does not necessarily mean that you have nothing to worry about. Additionally, lab tests are not always able to detect all health conditions, and some conditions may not produce abnormal test results until they have progressed to a more advanced stage.
What should I do after I have my lab test results?
After you have your lab test results, it is always best to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will be able to interpret the results in the context of your overall health and medical history, and they will be able to recommend any necessary follow-up tests or treatments.
What is the cost of a lab test?
In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.
How is a blood sample for a lab test collected?
A blood sample for a lab test is typically collected through a process called venipuncture. This involves using a needle and syringe to draw blood from a vein, typically in the arm. The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and a tourniquet is placed around the upper arm to help make the veins more visible. The healthcare provider performing the venipuncture will then insert the needle into a vein and collect the required amount of blood. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing.
Should I do anything to prepare for lab tests?
It is generally a good idea to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine what, if any, preparations are necessary for your lab tests. In general, it is a good idea to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as fasting for a certain amount of time before the test or avoiding certain medications. It is also a good idea to bring a list of all medications you are currently taking to your lab appointment.
Why is it necessary to fast before some tests?
Fasting before certain lab tests is often necessary because certain substances in the blood, such as glucose and certain fats, can affect the results of the test. By fasting, you are allowing your body to metabolize these substances, which can provide more accurate test results. Additionally, some tests require that you fast in order to properly prepare your body for the test.
Will a cup of coffee before my lab test mess with the results?
Whether or not you can have a cup of coffee before your test will depend on the specific test that you are undergoing and any instructions provided by your healthcare provider. If you are unsure about whether or not you can have a cup of coffee before your test, it is always best to ask your healthcare provider for advice.
Can my lab test get affected by diet or medications?
Yes, your diet and medications can affect the results of your lab tests.
What do the lab test results mean?
The specific meaning of your lab test results will depend on the specific test that was performed and the reference range provided by the laboratory. The reference range is the range of values that is considered normal for a healthy person, and it is used to interpret the results of your lab test. If your test results fall within the reference range, it generally means that there is nothing unusual or concerning about your test results. However, if your test results are outside of the reference range, it may indicate a potential health concern that should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
Where are the reference (normal) ranges for lab tests?
The reference ranges for lab tests, also known as normal ranges, are determined by the laboratory that performs the test. These ranges are based on a large number of test results from healthy individuals, and they are used to interpret the results of your lab test. The reference range for each test is typically provided on the laboratory report along with your test results.
What if my lab test result is outside the reference range?
If your lab test result is outside of the reference range, it may indicate a potential health concern that should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Additionally, the reference range is just a general guide, and there may be other factors that can affect your test results.
How can I improve my lab test results?
There are several steps you can take to improve your lab test results. First, it is important to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider when preparing for a lab test, such as fasting for a certain amount of time before the test or avoiding certain medications. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve your lab test results. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking. If you have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to manage it properly and follow your healthcare provider's recommendations for treatment.
Does having abnormal lab test results indicate that I have a health issue?
Having abnormal lab test results does not necessarily mean that you have a health issue. There are many factors that can affect the accuracy of lab test results, such as your diet, medications, and other medical conditions. Additionally, the reference range used to interpret your test results is just a general guide, and there may be other factors that can affect your test results.