Q: I think I might be having a problem with my thyroid. I seem to be having a few symptoms of thyroid disorder. What tests should I take?

A: The first thing you need to do if you experience symptoms of thyroid disorder is to get your bloodwork done. Lethargy, resistant metabolism, difficulty in losing weight, thinning of hair, hairfall, sensitivity to cold temperature, low libido, fluid retention, dry skin can be some of the signs and symptoms indicating thyroid imbalance. Even if you don’t notice any of these symptoms, you should include the following thyroid blood work in your annual check up.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: For some, the TSH level maintained around 2 mIU/L is favourable while over 4 mIU/L is abnormal; in some cases, 3-3.5 may indicate problems. That means, you may show the symptoms but have TSH below 4 mIU/L. This is why a holistic approach is needed to identify and treat thyroid issues. TSH level is sensitive to the circulating active and inactive thyroid hormones – a reason doctors refer to the TSH level to adjust the thyroid medicine dosage.

T3 & T4: Normal ranges for T4 is usually between 58 and 151 nmol/L, and for T3 between 1.3 and 3.1 nmol/L. You may have T3 and T4 in ‘normal’ ranges but still have thyroid malfunction symptoms. That is because normal ranges are based on the values of a majority of the population. The T3 is active form and is involved in the metabolic functions of the body. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone in the form of T4 which is inactive and gets converted to T3 (or the active form) in the liver and gut. If your gut is not ok, or your diet has inflammatory foods which affect your gut, the conversion of thyroid hormone might get affected. Cortisol (stress hormone) has also shown to interfere with the conversion process leading to build up of reverse T3.

Thyroid anti-bodies, TPO antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies: These tests are important to rule out the autoimmune type of thyroid abnormality. In auto immune disorders, the immune system attacks healthy cells, disrupting the normal functioning of the organ. The TSH, T3, T4 could be normal but you may have thyroid antibodies due to which you could be suffering from hypothyroid symptoms. This is because thyroid function is dependent on multiple factors and all of them need to be evaluated for a proper diagnosis.

Thyroid ultrasound: Sonography can give you a clear picture of your thyroid gland. Any nodules/cysts present in the thyroid gland that lead to increase in TSH can be detected in an ultrasound image.

Treatment of thyroid disorder is always better when the root problem is identified and addressed, making complete thyroid tests crucial to the treatment process.

Rashi Chowdhary is a nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

Read more