An important note: When you order your own blood or saliva tests, the cost of the tests are not likely to be covered by your insurance.
The Thyroid Neck Check
One self-check that may detect some thyroid problems is the thyroid neck check. To take this test, hold a mirror up so that you can see your thyroid area - the neck, just below the Adam's apple and above the collarbone. Tip your head back, and keeping an eye on this thyroid area, take a drink of water and swallow. As you swallow, look at your neck. Watch carefully for any bulges, enlargement, protrusions, or unusual appearances in this area. Repeat this process several times. If you see any bulges, protrusions, lumps or anything that appears unusual, see your doctor right away. (Note: this test cannot rule out thyroid abnormalities. It's just helpful to identify a particularly enlarged thyroid or visible masses.)
MyMedLab Blood Tests
MyMedLab.com offers the opportunity to order FDA-approved blood tests at local LabCorp outlets, without a doctor’s prescription. You need to go to the LabCorp facility and have blood drawn from a vein in your arm. Results give specific hormone values, and the testing process is the same as if your doctor ordered the tests directly. MyMedLab offers a variety of thyroid panels, including:
- Anti-Thyroid Antibodies
- Free T4, Free T3
- TSH -- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
- Reverse T3
- TSI (Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin)
ZRT Laboratory provides both saliva and bloodspot testing. Bloodspot testing is able to provide specific thyroid values, and requires only a small prick of blood, rather than a blood draw from the vein.
ZRT Thyroid Bloodspot Tests include: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Antibody.
You can read more about the capillary/fingerprick/bloodspot thyroid testing, and why some practitioners prefer this form of testing, in this Q&A with Dr. Richard Shames.
Patient Consumer Advocacy Group Discounts: The Canary Club
Free membership is available in The Canary Club, a patient organization that functions as a consumer advocate, negotiating substantial group discounts on tests for patients. You can save as much as several hundred dollars ordering ZRT tests through the Canary Club.
One popular ZRT test offered through the Canary Club, for example, is the Comprehensive Hormone Profile Test, which includes evaluation of the following:
- Thyroid Hormones: TSH, Free T3, FreeT4, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Antibody
- Sex Hormones: Estradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone
- Adrenal Hormones - DHEA, Cortisol (AM, noon, evening and PM)
Mary Shomon, About.com's Thyroid Guide since 1997, is a nationally-known patient advocate and best-selling author of 10 books on health, including "The Thyroid Hormone Breakthrough: Overcoming Sexual and Hormonal Problems at Every Age," "The Thyroid Diet: Manage Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss," "Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know," "The Thyroid Guide to Hair Loss," "Living Well With Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism," "Living Well With Autoimmune Disease," and "Living Well With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia." Click here for more information on Mary Shomon.