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How To Tell if You Are Hypothyroid

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Updated June 03, 2014

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Here's how you can determine if you have an underactive thyroid condition called hypothyroidism.
Time Required: 5

Here's How:

  1. List your risk factors, including: family history, previous treated/untreated problems (nodules, hyperthyroidism, goiter, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer), previous thyroid surgery, another autoimmune disease, childbirth.
  2. Note symptoms including: weight gain, depression, forgetfulness, fatigue, hoarseness, high cholesterol, constipation, feeling cold, hair loss, dry skin, low sex drive, tingling hands/feet, irregular periods, infertility.
  3. Note related conditions, including: recurrent pregnancy loss, resistant high cholesterol, difficult menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, mitral valve prolapse.
  4. Meet with your doctor for a thyroid examination and blood test.
  5. Request a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test, along with T4, T3, Free T4 and Free T3 tests.
  6. Review your test results with the doctor.
  7. Normal range is approximately 0.5 to 5.5. (As of Spring 2003, many experts are calling for the range to be revised to .3 to 3.0) 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.)
  8. 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.
  9. 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 low TSH, your doctor might look into a possible pituitary problem.
  10. 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, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  11. If your doctor ran a test called Total T3, normal range is approximately 80 to 220. If your result was less than 80, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  12. 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, your doctor might consider that indicative of hypothyroidism.
  13. If your test results come back 'normal' but you have many symptoms or risk factors for thyroid disease, request an antibodies test. Some doctors treat thyroid symptoms when antibodies are elevated with normal TSH levels.
  14. 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.

Tips:

  1. Many people who have radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism/Graves' Disease, or who have sugery to remove all or part of the thyroid due to nodules or cancer, are hypothyroid.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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