How To Tell if You Are Hypothyroid

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Here's how you can determine if you have an underactive thyroid condition called hypothyroidism.

  1. List your risk factors, which can including: family history, previous treated/untreated problems (nodules, hyperthyroidism, goiter, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer), previous thyroid surgery, having another autoimmune disease, or a recent pregnancy or childbirth.
  2. Note your potential hypothyroidism symptoms including: weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, fatigue, hoarseness, high cholesterol, body aches and pains, constipation, feeling cold, hair loss, dry skin, low sex drive, tingling hands/feet, irregular periods, and infertility, among others.
  1. Note hypothyroidism-related conditions, including: infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, resistant high cholesterol, difficult menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, mitral valve prolapse, cholesterol that doesn't respond to medication.
  2. Meet with your doctor for a thorough clinical thyroid examination and blood tests.
  3. Request a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test, along with Free T4 and Free T3 tests at minimum.
  4. Review your test results with the doctor.
  5. Normal range for the TSH test is approximately 0.5 to 5.5. If the TSH level is at the higher end of the range, or above the range, your doctor may determine that you are hypothyroid (underactive thyroid.)
  6. If your doctor ran a test called Total T4 or Total Thyroxine, normal range is approximately 4.5 to 12.5. If you had a low reading, and a high TSH, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  1. If your doctor ran a test called Free T4, or Free Thyroxine, normal range is approximately 0.7 to 2.0. If your result was less than 0.7 or in the low end of the range, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  2. If your doctor ran a test called Total T3, normal range is approximately 80 to 220. If your result was less than 80, or in the low end of the range, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  1. If your doctor ran a test called Free T3, the normal range is approximately 2.3 to 4.2. If your result was less than 2.3, or in the low end of the range, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  2. If your test results come back 'normal' but you have many symptoms or risk factors for thyroid disease, request a thyroid antibodies test, in particular, a Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO) test. Some doctors treat thyroid symptoms when antibodies are elevated with normal TSH levels.
  3. If your test results come back 'normal' but you have many of the symptoms or risk factors for thyroid disease, consider going to a reputable holistic M.D. or alternative physician for further interpretation and diagnosis. Read.Five Reasons You Can't Get Your Thyroid Problem Diagnosed. 
  4. Keep in mind that laboratory normal values vary somewhat from lab to lab. Make sure you find out your lab's normal ranges and review these with your doctor.

For Hyperthyroid/Graves' Disease Patients and Those Who Had Thyroid Surgery

  1. Most people who have radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism/Graves' Disease, or who have surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid due to nodules or cancer, end up hypothyroid.
  1. If you have been treated with radioactive iodine or surgery, and are currently not on thyroid hormone replacement, but have hypothyroidism symptoms, see your doctor.

More Information

For more information on how to interpret your blood tests and diagnosis and management of hypothyroidism, read:

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