Health Care

Thyroid Function Tests Could Help Millions of Americans

Doctor feeling the neck of a woman to check her thyroid.

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Your thyroid is one of the smallest glands in your body. Still, it plays an important role in your overall health and well-being: A small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck, your thyroid releases hormones that regulate many of your body’s essential functions. It’s estimated that a staggering 20 million Americans have thyroid disease and don’t even know it.

Learn about common thyroid conditions and determine if thyroid function tests could benefit you.

Causes of Thyroid Disease

Some medications like lithium and amiodarone can impact thyroid function. Amiodarone is a commonly prescribed medication used to treat patients with irregular heartbeat, but it can lead to thyroid disease — particularly hypothyroidism. If you take amiodarone, your provider should assess your dosage and conduct thyroid function tests every six months to monitor its impact on your thyroid.

Certain medical conditions can also cause thyroid disease:

  • Hypothyroidism develops when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone and can be caused by:
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Postpartum thyroiditis
  • Thyroiditis

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include extreme fatigue, forgetfulness, depression and weight gain.

  • Hyperthyroidism develops when your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone and can be caused by:
  • Graves’ disease
  • Nodules
  • Thyroiditis
  • Too much iodine

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include nervousness, irritability, sleep disturbances, vision problems and unexplained weight loss.

Thyroid Function Tests

Doctors use thyroid function tests to see if your thyroid gland is working as it should be. After a physical evaluation, your doctor can order imaging and lab tests for thyroid function as needed.

Thyroid imaging tests provide images of your thyroid that help your doctor check its size and shape and determine whether any growths are present.

Thyroid imagining tests can include:

Thyroid Scans

Using a special camera, our team can take clear pictures of your thyroid. Before your scan, you will swallow a pill or liquid or have a small amount of radioactive iodine injected into a vein. The iodine you received shows contrast in the images.

Ultrasound

A thyroid ultrasound is a painless procedure that takes about 30 minutes. It’s commonly used to check lumps on the thyroid, also known as thyroid nodules. A technician will guide a small, smooth device over your neck that emits sound waves to create a picture.

In addition to imaging, thyroid blood tests can measure the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. Your doctor may recommend blood tests for thyroid hormone levels, including T3, FT3, T4, FT4 and TSH. Additional blood tests to diagnose thyroid disease include testing your thyroid antibodies, calcitonin and thyroglobulin levels.

Find Out if You Have Thyroid Disease

The first step in treating thyroid disease is getting a diagnosis. Our skilled and caring team will be with you from start to finish, helping you put a name to your condition and charting a course to help you feel like yourself again.

Learn more about thyroid disease.

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