How to Test the Thyroid Level from Home?
In this article we will go through how you can test your thyroid hormone levels from home. We will go through what a test is, what the thyroid is, how to analyze the result, who should take a thyroid home test, the accuracy, compare different test and suppliers.
What is a Thyroid Test?
A home thyroid test is one of the easiest ways to get tested for any possible thyroid problems. Many individuals don’t even know they have this issue as most of the symptoms are similar to what people experience as they grow older. A home thyroid test is accurate, not time-consuming, and is recommended for anyone who might suspect they are overactive or underactive. Individuals can also look out for the best suppliers of the kits, work with their doctors, and stick to the rules related to testing.
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland, so that means its produces chemicals which in some way control your bodily functions. These chemicals are called hormones. What hormones does thyroid gland produce? There are two hormones mainly associated with thyroid- T3 (Triiodithyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine). The thyroid hormones are very important. They determine how we make use of the energy that we derive from the food we eat.
Too much or too little of thyroid hormone production can cause massive changes to your being. A home thyroid test kit can help detect the level of thyroid hormone in the blood so that, if a problem is detected, proper diagnosis and treatment can easily be planned and administered. Test can show a low level of hormones, which is associated with the disease of thyroid called hypothyroidism, or the levels can be elevated beyond normal range which is associated with another condition called hyperthyroidism.
Home Thyroid Test Results
Taking a home thyroid test can help to detect thyroid dysfunction in the human body. Research shows that at least 20 million Americans have one form of thyroid problem or the other (1). Also, 60% of those with thyroid problem don’t even know they have it (2). Thyroid problems are widespread and affect all age groups and both sexes.
Generally, thyroid conditions are more common in women than in men. For example studies in USA, Japan and Northern Europe have shown as much as 10 times more presence of hypothyroidism in female population than in male. To put a value to it, as much as 12 women per 1000 were diagnosed with hypothyroidism, as opposed to 4 per 1000 men. As for hyperthyroidism women are also usually more affected than men.
Thyroid problems more often present themselves in elderly population than in younger(4). Also, people who are smokers or have undergone radiation therapy in the neck can be at an increased risk. It makes plenty of sense to take advantage of thyroid testing, which can quickly detect problems within the body and pave the way for proper diagnosis.
With the home thyroid test, individuals can detect the level of production of thyroid hormones in their body. But what are thyroid hormones, and what other hormones can help you evaluate your thyroid function? Apart from T3 and T4 mentioned above, these test can measure the level of another important hormone. This hormone, called Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by another important gland in the body called pituitary gland. This small gland located near the brain in the skull actively controls T3 and T4 production through a feedback system.
When levels of T3 and T4 in the blood are low, the pituitary gland produces more TSH which then in turn raises production of thyroid hormones in thyroid gland. Exactly the opposite happens when there is too much T3 and T4 in blood – the TSH levels drops and so does the thyroid hormone production . When the test shows that the level of TSH in the blood is raised, then it means the thyroid is underactive. The test can also detect when the level of TSH has reduced; it means the individual has an overactive thyroid that is producing above average level of T3 and T4.
Sometimes, the test can help to detect if there is an inflammation in the thyroid which will increase the output of T3 and T4 in bloodstream, in which case an ultrasound scan will be done for further studying.
Who Should Make Home Thyroid Test?
As mentioned above thyroid problems can present themselves if the gland is either overactive or underactive. Hyperthyroidism, in which there is elevated T3 and T4 blood levels, cause an overall increase in metabolism rate of our bodies.
This means your body utilizes your energy reserves faster. The other issue is hypothyroidism, which causes your metabolism rate to slow down. Many people who have thyroid problems are not aware of them because they usually attribute it to something else, like old age or other diseases which they already know of. If you experience any of the symptoms below or just want to inspect your health, home thyroid test are a great tool to help you get the picture of your thyroid function.
People with hyperthyroidism (too high thyroid hormone levels) usually have symptoms like:
- Trouble concentrating at work or play
- Mood swings
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Trembling hands
- Insomnia – trouble sleeping
- Swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid (goitre)
- Excessive sweating
- Weight loss in spite of increased hunger
- Loss of muscle mass and muscle weakness
- Wide staring gaze
- Warm, soft and flushed skin
- Light or skipping periods
Individuals who have hypothyroidism (too low thyroid hormone levels) usually exhibit symptoms like:
- Usual feeling of tiredness
- Intolerance to cold
- Slower heat beat
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Forgetfulness and mental slowness- often confused with depression
- Decreased sweating
- Shortness of breath and decreased exercise capacity
- Pale and cool skin
- Deepening of voice and tongue enlargement
- Thinning of hair
- Elevated blood cholesterol levels
Home Thyroid Test Accuracy
Home thyroid tests are very popular today. The reason is because of the ease and speed at which they are concluded. Some test kits make it so easy that within ten minutes, you have your test ready. There are rules guiding the use of the home test kit, and the accuracy of the test largely depends on how well you are able to follow these rules. If you are exhibiting some symptoms, it makes sense to take preliminary measures to ensure you don’t have the condition.
You should pay attention to your body temperature and ensure that you check it at least four consecutive days. This is because the basal body temperature is a good indicator of thyroid function. A drop in body temperature could be caused by an underactive thyroid gland. Test accuracy that will help you get better diagnosis and treatment also involves working with the doctor to determine family history. If your mother or anyone in your family had suffered from any thyroid issues, then you’re at a greater risk of having it too.
Different Home Thyroid Tests
#1: Feeling the Thyroid Gland
One of the major benefits of the human anatomy is that you can actually feel the gland. This is why home thyroid test using your hand to feel can be a simple and quick way to know what is going on. Just place your hand on your neck, below your Adam’s apple, and run it down to see if you feel any bumps. These bumps are called thyroid nodules, and can show up for various reasons. If you feel these bump be sure to contact your doctor for further assessment. Also, the gland can be enlarged altogether, sometimes even visibly- be sure to contact doctor because this is almost certainly a sign of thyroid disease. But sometimes, people have a less severe thyroid issue, and they don’t have any visible or palpable signs. In this case, you may not feel a swollen thyroid, but it may be there.
#2: Checking Basal Temperature
Your thyroid actually monitors your metabolism. This means that if you feel too hot or cold, you need to provide support for your thyroid. In some cases, your temperature might be an indication that you already have an issue and you should carry out basal temperature home testing.
Get a thermometer and test your temperature as you get out of bed every morning. Record the temperature and do it for a week or two and see what comes out of it. The average temperature range is around 36.50C and 36.70C (3). If it is not within this range, then your thyroid must be having problems, and you need to see your doctor.
Home Thyroid Test Suppliers
INFO BOX: What the home thyroid tests do measure and why
T3 and T4 are the hormones usually measured first with TSH to establish a baseline for thyroid function. Normal levels of these in blood plasma are in range between 5-12μg/dL (US) or 65-156nmol/L (EU) for T4 and between 0.08-0.22μg/dL or 1.2-3.3nmol/L for T3. These are also called total T4 and T3. Both hormones bind to proteins called thyroxin-binding globulin (TBG) in bloodstream which in turn carry them throughout the body. However only without these proteins they can express their function. This fraction is small compared to complete count of T3 and T4 and constitutes around 0.02% of complete T3 and T4 in the blood. So, the fraction which is called free T4 and free T3, and which of around 2ng/dL is T4, is measured by many of the home test measure too (5).
As mentioned TSH is what controls overall production and secretion of thyroid hormones. So, it must be a state of constant balance with these two in order to keep thyroid functioning optimally. Another thing which is commonly measured is an antibody called the TPO antibody. TPO stands for Thyroidal peroxidase and is an important enzyme which forms thyroid hormones from the chemical compounds. Our immune systems sometimes mistakenly recognize it as a threat and produces antibodies which in turn render TPO useless. This is a base for a condition called autoimmune hypothyroidism. Another antibody present in that state is the thyroglobulin antibody named after another chemical compound found in thyroid.
Thyroid hormone test
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Things that can improve my thyroid function
There are certainly a few ways to improve your thyroid function without medications prescribed by doctors. The most important nutrient to look for in food for thyroid is iodine. Iodine levels in the body control the thyroid function and when these are low it can cause hypothyroidism. Iodine usually is mixed in with table salt but in some part of the world that is not the practice and eating kelp and seaweed might help as a substitution.
Food you should avoid or moderately eat is soy, broccoli, cabbage and coffee. People who are already on hypothyroidism hormone replacement therapy should avoid processed sugar, fatty foods, and gluten as they are known to cause problem with medication intestinal absorption.
You should consider adding or increasing intake nuts, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and fatty fish as they are considered to improve general health and help improve thyroid function (6).
Lifestyle changes or improvements such as exercise have shown to control the weight in patients with hypothyroidism and also increase production of thyroid hormones. You should also consider quitting smoking as it is a risk connected with almost every disease known to man. Last but not least, maintaining regular sleep is also important as it reduces stress and help improve general health an important thing to achieve hormonal balance.
Thyroid problems can be fatal. It has contributed to so many health issues faced by so many people today. While the symptoms are similar to many of health situations, doing a home thyroid test is the first step to ensuring that you are safe. You have many options to choose from, they are affordable, and you should work with your doctor in case your test is positive.
- General article author – Unknown date of publication – General Information/Press Room – www.thyroid.org
- General article author – 2013 January – Could you have a thyroid problem-and not know it? – www.health.harvard.edu
- Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD – 2017-02-05 – What Is Normal Body Temperature? – www.webmd.com
- Mark P. J. Vanderpump, 2011, The epidemiology of thyroid disease, British Medical Bulletin (BMB) https://academic.oup.com/bmb/article-abstract/99/1/39/298307
- Gary D. Hammer, Stephen J. McPhee, 2014., Thyroid, Pathophysiology of Disease, 7th Edition
- Unknown Author, unknown date, Complete guide to boosting thyroid hormone function naturally , https://thyroidadvisor.com/complete-guide-to-boosting-thyroid-hormone-function-naturally/