Tests & Diagnostics
    1234 · 20 min read

    A Complete Guide to Thyroid Tests: Your Questions Answered

    In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about thyroid tests, starting from understanding the basics of the thyroid gland itself. We'll look into the various conditions that can affect it, offering insight into how to recognise signs your thyroid might not be working optimally. We will also go through the purpose and procedure of thyroid tests, addressing commonly asked questions to answer any uncertainties you may have.

    What is the thyroid gland?

    According to the NHS, the thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in your windpipe. One of its primary functions is to produce hormones that help regulate the body's metabolism, converting food into energy. These hormones are known as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Essentially, the thyroid gland helps to control how fast or slow the body's metabolic processes occur. Additionally, thyroid hormones have impacts on heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions, ensuring overall bodily balance and health.

    What is an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)?

    An underactive thyroid, medically termed hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce an adequate amount of hormones, according to NHS Inform. This lack of hormone production can lead to various symptoms including persistent tiredness, unexplained weight gain, and feelings of depression. Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent an underactive thyroid. It commonly occurs due to the immune system mistakenly attacking the thyroid gland which results in damage, or as a consequence of treatments for conditions such as an overactive thyroid or thyroid cancer.

    What are common signs of an underactive thyroid?

    An underactive thyroid can manifest itself through a number of different signs and symptoms that you can look out for. Some are more common than others of course. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common signs of an underactive thyroid are:

    • Persistent tiredness

    • Heightened sensitivity to cold temperatures

    • Regular constipation

    • Dry, flaky skin

    • Unexplained weight gain

    • A swollen or puffy face

    • A hoarse voice

    • Coarse hair and skin texture

    • Weakness in muscles

    • Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness

    • Menstrual cycles that are heavier or irregular

    • Thinning hair

    • Slowed heart rate (bradycardia)

    • Feelings of depression

    • Memory problems

    What is an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)?

    An overactive thyroid, medically termed hyperthyroidism, is a common hormonal disorder characterised by excessive levels of thyroid hormone circulating in the body, according to NHS Inform. This condition occurs when the thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces an abundance of hormones known as thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones play vital roles in regulating the body's growth and metabolism. They influence processes such as heart rate, body temperature, and the conversion of food into energy to fuel the body's functions. However, in hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroxine or triiodothyronine, leading to an acceleration of the body's metabolism. This heightened metabolic rate can result in various symptoms and health complications if left untreated.

    A lady feeling her throat whilst experiencing a problem with her thyroid gland

    What are common signs of an overactive thyroid?

    An overactive thyroid can present a variety of symptoms, often making diagnosis challenging due to similarities with other health conditions. These signs may include, according to the Mayo Clinic:

    • Unintentional weight loss

    • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)

    • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

    • Heart palpitations (sensation of pounding or racing heart)

    • Increased appetite

    • Feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or irritability

    • Tremors, typically noticeable as slight trembling in the hands and fingers

    • Excessive sweating

    • Changes in menstrual cycles

    • Heightened sensitivity to heat

    • Alterations in bowel habits, such as more frequent bowel movements

    • Enlarged thyroid gland, known as a goitre, appearing as a swelling at the base of the neck

    • Fatigue

    • Muscle weakness

    • Difficulty sleeping

    • Warm, moist skin

    • Thinning skin

    • Fragile, brittle hair

    It's important to note that older adults may experience symptoms that are subtler and harder to detect, such as irregular heartbeat, weight loss, depression, and increased fatigue or weakness during regular activities.

    What is a thyroid test?

    A thyroid test is a medical examination used to assess the function of the thyroid gland and to diagnose any potential thyroid disorders. These tests typically involve analysing blood samples to measure the levels of various thyroid hormones and other related substances in the bloodstream. The primary hormones tested include thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which are essential for regulating metabolism and other bodily functions, according to the NHS. By evaluating these hormone levels, healthcare providers can determine whether the thyroid gland is functioning properly, and if not, whether it is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism). Thyroid tests are crucial for diagnosing thyroid conditions, monitoring treatment effectiveness, and guiding appropriate medical management. You can purchase a home thyroid test kit from UK Meds online. This allows you to get top-quality results from yorktest, right from the comfort of your own home.

    What are the benefits of a thyroid test?

    At-home thyroid tests offer several benefits, empowering individuals to take charge of their health and make informed decisions about their well-being. Here are some key advantages presented by yorktest thyroid tests:

    • Convenience: At-home thyroid tests provide a quick and easy way to assess thyroid hormone levels without needing to visit a healthcare provider. This convenience saves time and eliminates the need for scheduling appointments.

    • Control: By performing an at-home thyroid test, individuals gain greater control over their health. They can proactively monitor their thyroid function and take steps to address any abnormalities or imbalances detected.

    • Timely Results: With at-home testing kits, individuals can obtain results within a relatively short time frame, typically within 7 days. This swift turnaround allows for prompt evaluation of thyroid hormone levels and timely intervention if necessary.

    • Personalised Advice: Test results are accompanied by helpful advice and recommendations based on individual thyroid hormone levels. This guidance can assist individuals in understanding their results and determining whether further medical consultation or intervention is warranted.

    • Awareness and Tracking: At-home thyroid tests increase awareness of thyroid function and create a need for ongoing monitoring of thyroid hormone levels over time. This tracking enables individuals to identify trends or changes in thyroid health and adjust their lifestyle or treatment as necessary.

    Which thyroid tests are available at UK Meds?

    At UK Meds, you can purchase the yorktest Thyroid Test that you can use at home. This will allow you to gain a greater understanding of your thyroid function right from the comfort of your own home, as well as all the other advantages mentioned above.

    Are thyroid treatments available at UK Meds?

    Yes, you can also purchase underactive thyroid treatments online from UK Meds. Our range of underactive thyroid treatments includes Levothyroxine, Eltroxin, and Liothyronine, all of which can be purchased as a one-time purchase or on a subscription basis. Ordering your medication on a subscription basis means that you get access to exclusive discounts, delivery charges, and more with UK Meds Plus.  

    Sources

    Blog author

    Scott Weaver

    Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.

    Here to help you

    Our Customer Service is available Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm. If you need urgent assistance, do not use this service. Call 111, or in an emergency call 999. Visit our help section