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Thyroid blood tests - also known as thyroid function tests or TSH blood tests - are a quick and convenient way of checking the function of the thyroid.
The thyroid function test examines the levels of various hormones secreted from the thyroid gland and pituitary gland. The test is useful in detecting whether there is an issue with the thyroid gland and can be used in conjunction with symptoms to diagnose conditions such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
The Thyroid Profile 3 blood test detects TSH, T4 and T3 levels.
the Thyroid Profile 1 blood test only detects TSH and T4 levels. It does not detect the T3 hormone.
You can buy thyroid test kits online, which allow you to take a blood sample from the comfort of your own home, send it off to a lab, and receive results via an email or text message within 48 hours of the lab receiving the sample.
Our thyroid blood test kits are easy to use and come with everything you need to safely acquire a sample at home and send it to our lab for testing.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple - below the voice box (larynx) and above the collarbone (clavicle). There are two lobes connected by a section of tissue in the middle called the isthmus.
The thyroid works with the pituitary gland in the brain to release a steady flow of hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth, digestion, as well as the functioning of the vital organs.
The pituitary gland is located in the hypothalamus of the brain and releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone acts like a thermostat for the thyroid. It detects the level of T3 in the blood and instructs the thyroid on whether it should make more or less of the hormone.
Together, the thyroid and pituitary gland make 3 hormones. The 3 hormones are commonly referred to as TSH, T4 and T3. Here's what they mean:
When T3 levels are low, it instructs the thyroid to produce more T4 by sending more TSH.
When the T3 levels are high, the pituitary gland instructs the thyroid not to make T4, or to make less of it.
If either the pituitary gland or thyroid gland is damaged, the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood can be affected. This can cause symptoms to develop, which may indicate an underactive or overactive thyroid.
A thyroid blood test can detect the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood, which can indicate how the thyroid is functioning.
The symptoms of an underactive thyroid may include:
Underactive thyroid symptoms in women may include changes to periods, causing them to become heavy or irregular. If you notice any changes in your menstruation, speak to your doctor.
If an underactive thyroid is left untreated, it can lead to further complications, including hearing loss, anaemia or a slow heart rate.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid can include:
Complications can arise if an overactive thyroid is left untreated. Such complications can include eye problems, including dryness, swelling, or deteriorated vision, weight gain, depression, and complications during pregnancy.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to speak to your doctor first. The symptoms may be an indication of another underlying health condition, so it’s best to seek an assessment from your doctor in order to rule out other possible causes.
The symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose a thyroid problem. A thyroid blood test would be required to make a proper diagnosis.
Thyroid blood tests examine the amount of hormones in a given blood sample.
The thyroid profile 3 blood test looks for 3 hormones:
Generally, the normal values of these thyroid hormones are as follows:
|TSH||0.4 - 4.0||mU/L (milliunits per litre)|
|T4||9 - 25||pmol/L (picomoles per litre)|
|T3||3.5 - 7.8||pmol/L (picomoles per litre)|
The Thyroid Profile 1 test only tests for T4 and TSH levels.
If the level of TSH is high but the T4 levels are low, then hypothyroidism is suggested. This indicates that the thyroid is not producing enough T4 hormone, despite the increase in stimulation from TSH.
Conversely, if the TSH level is low but the T4 level is high, then hyperthyroidism is suggested. In this case, the thyroid is producing too much T4.
Depending on whether the thyroid condition is caused by the thyroid itself or the pituitary gland, it is referred to as primary or secondary respectively.
A thyroid blood test can be used in conjunction with a symptom profile to identify whether a person has a thyroid problem, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
Depending on your symptoms and blood test results, your doctor may require further tests or may refer you to an endocrinologist - a hormone specialist.
A thyroid function test cannot detect thyroid cancer but may show results associated with cancer of the thyroid. If you feel a lump in your neck, it’s important to get it checked by your doctor.
In some cases, your doctor may suggest an ultrasound scan of your neck. This scan uses ultrasonic sound waves to create a picture of your thyroid. While they can be mildly uncomfortable, they do not hurt or take long to do. A doctor will apply a small amount of cold gel to your neck to help the scanner move more smoothly over your skin and to provide a clearer image. You may feel light pressure on your neck as the doctor moves the scanner over the skin on your neck where your thyroid gland is.
Before you take a thyroid function blood test, you should speak to your doctor. They will be able to inform you whether it would be worth getting tested for an underactive or overactive thyroid.
If you have been diagnosed with an underactive or overactive thyroid, your doctor may request you to take regular blood tests to monitor your condition.
Your doctor may prescribe a medicine to treat your thyroid condition. While you begin your treatment, your doctor may request regular blood tests to measure your thyroid hormone levels. This allows your doctor to monitor how you are responding to the treatment, and adjust the dosage if necessary.
Some medicines can impact the results of a thyroid function test and produce inaccurate results.
It is important to speak to your doctor first before you stop taking any medicines prior to taking a blood test.
Medicines which may affect thyroid tests include:
If you are taking any of these medicines, speak to your doctor for advice before taking a thyroid function test.
Our thyroid blood test kits contain everything you need to acquire a blood sample at home and send it off to our partnered lab.
Each test kit comes with illustrated instructions to follow.
You must read these instructions before you begin.
In your thyroid test kit you will find:
You must fill out the request form and put it in the box with your sample. The request form informs the laboratory what the test is for and who the test belongs to. Failing to provide this information can delay your results or void the test entirely.
Once you have collected your sample, it is important to send it off as soon as you can. Delaying posting your sample can run the risk of the sample coagulating, which renders it unusable by the lab.
We encourage you to check your local postbox to determine the best time to send the blood sample off to our lab.
You can get a thyroid function test online from Prescription Doctor.
Our test kits make it quick and simple to take a blood sample and send it to our partnered lab.
Your results will be delivered electronically through your Prescription Doctor account.
Once your results are available, we will notify you via email to login and read your results.
You can discuss your results with one of our online doctors via the messaging portal under your account.
One of our doctors can discuss what your results mean and advise you on what you should do next.
If your thyroid blood test result comes back as normal but you still have symptoms, you should speak to your doctor. The symptoms of underactive or overactive thyroid are synonymous with other health conditions. It is important to discuss this further to determine the cause of your symptoms.
The turnaround time for a thyroid blood test is 48 hours after the lab receive the sample.
To ensure the laboratory receives the sample quickly, and to prevent the sample from becoming haemolysed, we encourage you to send off your sample as soon as you can after collecting it.
There are no special instructions for using our home thyroid blood test kit.
If you have lancets that you have no used, put them back in the box with your sample and request form, and send them back to the laboratory.
One of our online doctors can discuss your thyroid function blood test results with you and inform you what you need to do next.
You can also consult with your GP about your test results.
Table of contents
British Thyroid Foundation. British Thyroid Foundation
NHS, 2021. Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
NHS, 2019. Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)