Keeping Tabs on Your Thyroid
Despite being a mere two inches in size, the thyroid gland sure plays a large part in our health. The thyroid produces a hormone that is carried through the bloodstream to every part of the body. This hormone plays a major role in regulating metabolism (the process in which the cells convert nutrients to energy), and this helps regulate temperature, heart rate, and even brain function.
When the thyroid hormone levels fall, your body starts to show signs, such as fatigue and weight gain.
That’s when we’ll order thyroid screening tests at Women’s Health Medical Group.
How does the thyroid work?
Just as the thyroid gland communicates with other organs by way of the hormone it produces, the pituitary gland in the brain communicates with the thyroid through a hormone it makes called thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. When the pituitary senses thyroid hormone levels are too low, it releases more TSH to prompt the thyroid to kick it up. When the thyroid gets the TSH message, it produces thyroid hormone, a large proportion of which is called thyroxine (T4) and a smaller proportion is triiodothyronine (T3). The T4 is eventually converted into T3, the “active” form that is taken up by receptors in the body cells.
Why you need a thyroid screening?
Women are much more likely than men to have low thyroid hormone levels. Problem is many of the symptoms of low thyroid levels, hypothyroidism, are written off as a consequence of aging or attributed to other conditions.
- If your thyroid doesn’t produce enough T3 and T4, you may have symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, and depression. This is hypothyroidism.
- If your thyroid produces too much T3 and T4, you may experience weight loss, high levels of anxiety, tremors, and a sense of being on a high. This is hyperthyroidism.
If we’re concerned about your thyroid hormone levels, we will order broad screening tests. These are blood tests. We typically order the T4 test and the TSH test together.
The T4 test is known as the thyroxine test. A high level of T4 indicates an overactive thyroid.
The TSH test measures the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. The normal range for the TSH test is between 0.4 and 4.0 milli-international units of hormone per liter of blood. If you’re showing signs of hypothyroidism and have a TSH reading above 2.0, you’re at risk for progressing to hypothyroidism. At that point, we’ll look at medications, such as levothyroxine, that can help with your symptoms.
Is it time for your next checkup with the team at Women’s Health Medical Group? Call us at (817) 346-5336 to schedule your appointment.