The thyroid gland is an important part of your endocrine systems. It secretes hormones to regulate metabolism, heart function and muscle development.
This article will discuss the typical levels of thyroid hormones, what tests are necessary, and what to do if your have hypothyroidism.
What are thyroid hormones?
The thyroid gland secretes thyroid hormones. There are three thyroid hormones, with T4 and T3 being the most prominent.
What does each thyroid hormone do in the body?
- Thyroxine (or T4) is the primary hormone that the thyroid gland produces. Also known as Tetraiodothyronine (T4), T4 is inactive. Its primary function, however, is to activate T3.
- T3 is the active form T4. It controls your metabolism and other vital functions. T3 is produced in 20% of the thyroid. The majority of T3 is made in other organs, such as the kidneys or liver.
- Calcitonin, which is less well-known hormone in your thyroid gland’s production, helps to maintain healthy bones.
TSH and Its Role in Thyroid Function
TSH is for Thyroid Stimulating hormone and it is the main hormone that doctors check to determine thyroid function. TSH is secreted by pituitary cells in the brain and not the thyroid.
TSH is released more by the pituitary gland when it senses a need to produce more thyroid hormone. TSH travels to the thyroid gland, located in the neck, and stimulates it to produce more thyroid hormone.
Symptoms Of A Thyroid Issue
What symptoms are associated with thyroid disease? Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism both can cause thyroid problems. The following symptoms of thyroid disease are:
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Weight gain
- Muscle and joint pain
- Dry skin
- Nails or hair that are thinning
- Temperature intolerance
- Digestive problems
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Unregular heartbeat
- Eye problems
Graves’ disease, which can cause hyperthyroidism, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which may cause hypothyroidism may result in dangerously high or low levels of thyroid hormones. There are many factors that can trigger Graves’ and Hashimotos.
It is important to determine if thyroid imbalance in a patient is caused by Grave’s or Hashimoto’s disease. These are autoimmune conditions that have a different root cause and treatment strategy from thyroid disease, which isn’t autoimmune.
Optimal TSH Levels
According to the majority of medical professionals, the optimal TSH hormone levels should be between 0.5 and 5.0 mIU/L. However, we recommend 0.5 to 2.5 mIU/L for pregnant women.
TSH hormone levels tend to decrease during pregnancy. TSH levels may drop below 0.5 mg/L, but you will still be euthyroid. This means that your thyroid is healthy. Although your thyroid hormone levels might rise in each trimester and then increase postpartum, this is normal.
Blood tests can be used to measure thyroid hormone levels.
What is the normal TSH level for a woman? The optimal TSH level for a woman is between 0.4 and 2.5 mIU/L. The upper limit for pregnant women is higher than for those who are not.
Above 5.0 mIU/L is considered dangerously high levels of TSH. High Thyroxine Levels Low Thyroid Hormones This could be a sign of severe hypothyroidism.
Test for T3, T4 and TSH levels
PrimeHealth administers a wider range of thyroid function tests than the majority of medical professionals. Traditional primary care physicians and endocrinologists often only concentrate on TSH levels.
It is also important to consider optimal levels and reference range levels. We use a more comprehensive panel of tests to ensure that we are able to make informed decisions.
Keep in mind, if you are taking thyroid medication, the time since your last dose may affect the way we interpret your lab results. To assess the levels of your thyroid at different times throughout the day, your provider might ask you to test your thyroid panel either before or after you take your medication in the morning.
The best way to determine thyroid function is to take:
- TSH levels
- Get a free T4
- T3 Free
- Total T4
- Total T3
- Reverse T3
- Anti-thyroglobulin (Hashimoto’s TPO antibodies) and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies
- Thyroid-bindingglobulin (TBG) levels
Take care when testing your thyroid hormone levels. The test results may be affected by this popular supplement for nail and hair growth.
What is the normal range for thyroid test results? We recommend that TSH levels remain below 2.5 mIU/L. Your TSH levels are likely to fall outside of this range.
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Some medical professionals routinely test for free T4 levels. To get a complete picture, we also test for total T4. These are both blood tests.
Our goal is to optimize the thyroid hormone levels of our patients to be at the upper end of these ranges (for no cost and total T4 or T3).
The T4 levels should be:
- Total T4 = 0.2-4.25 mIU/L, or 5,000-12,000ng/dL (nanograms/deciliter of blood).
- T4 free = 0.9-1.9 ng/dL
Many healthcare professionals do not test for T3 levels. To get a better picture of your thyroid function, we believe that testing for T3 levels is essential.
The following T3 levels are tested: total T3, free and reverse T3. All levels can be measured by blood tests.
The T3 levels should be:
- Total T3 = 75 to 195 ng/dL (nanograms/deciliter of blood).
- Free T3 = 2.3-4.2 pg/dL
- Reverse T3 = 10-24ng/dL
- The ideal reverse T3 level would be about 15. Higher values indicate inflammation or stress (mental and physical).
TSH levels are an important part of diagnosing thyroid problems. TSH levels can be assessed by a blood test.
The American Thyroid Association recommends that serum TSH levels remain between 0.4 and 4.0 mIU/L (milliinternational units per Liter). We recommend that this number be kept below 2.5 mIU/L.
We recommend that TSH levels be kept between 0.5 to 2.5 mIU/L. Hypothyroidism can be caused by high TSH levels. Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid levels are too high.
TSH High vs. Low
You may have either primary hypothyroidism (or subclinical hypothyroidism) if you have elevated TSH levels. Primary hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland attempts to stimulate the thyroid by increasing TSH levels.
Subclinical hypothyroidism has elevated TSH levels, but normal thyroid hormone levels remain within the normal range.
Low levels of TSH could indicate that your pituitary gland has stopped functioning, secondary hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism (most commonly from Graves disease).
Both high and low TSH are equally problematic. Both must be addressed.
What does high TSH actually mean?
What happens if your TSH levels are too high? Hypothyroidism can be caused by high TSH levels. These are the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Weight loss
- Muscle and joint pain
- Hoarse Voice, Snoring
- Dry skin
- Hair falling out
- Brittle nails
- Intolerant to cold
- Heart disease
- Myxedema coma
Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid are the two main types of hypothyroidism.
- When your thyroid is the problem, Thyroid dysfunction can’t be caused by any other part of your body.
- Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH), is not a thyroid hormone. TSH is made in the pituitary, but it has a dramatic effect on the thyroid. You could have secondary hyperthyroidism if you produce too much TSH. This means that your thyroid disorder may actually be a pituitary problem.
Secondary hypothyroidism can also be called tertiary hyperthyroidism. This happens when the hypothalamus produces too little thyrotropin. The hypothalamus issue can cause thyroid gland problems.
What could be causing high levels of TSH? Toxin exposure or autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s or food allergy might be causing high levels of TSH. This is likely due to low thyroid hormone levels as well as hypothyroidism.
What does low TSH actually mean?
Low TSH levels can indicate secondary hypothyroidism, or hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Too much energy
- Heat Sensitivity
- Frequent urination
- Mood swings
Low TSH levels could be caused by: Low TSH levels may be caused by thyroid nodules, autoimmune diseases and inflammation.
What is the best time to get treatment?
Treatment is required when your thyroid levels are too low or too high, exceeding the optimal levels. TSH levels should be between 0.5 and 5.0 mIU/L. We prefer that the upper limit be 2.5 mIU/L.
The most common treatment for an overactive thyroid is thyroid hormone replacement with levothyroxine. Thyroid medications such as levothyroxine usually are not the first treatment for thyroid dysfunction.
The most commonly used treatments for an overactive thyroid are radioactive iodine and antithyroid drugs.
Thyroid conditions can have many root causes. Treatment for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism depends on the root cause. This could be stress, thyroid cancer, thyroid disease, thyroid infection, toxin exposure, nutritional deficiencies, inflammation diet, or stress.
PrimeHealth does exactly that: we create integrative, individual treatments that address the root cause of your thyroid.
Thyroid questions? Let’s answer your questions about the thyroid.
You now know everything you need to know about thyroid hormone levels and when to seek treatment.
PrimeHealth answers patients’ questions about medical conditions, autoimmune diseases, and other health issues. It is important for patients to feel heard and educated about their bodies.
Did you know? Many people can get their hypothyroidism permanently treated. It is possible to treat even what conventional doctors call “permanent” hypothyroidism. It is evident in the lives of our patients.