Hypothyroidism Diagnosis

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Hypothyroidism is a condition of the thyroid gland that affects the production of thyroid hormones, important hormones in the regulation of metabolism. The symptoms of this condition are non-specific and develop slowly, meaning they are often missed or confused with symptoms of other conditions. Hypothyroidism therefore sometimes fails to be diagnosed for years.

Some of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include the folowing:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle ache
  • Constipation
  • Loss of libido
  • Depression

The only reliable way to determine whether a patient has hypothyroidism is to perform thyroid function tests that assess the levels of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. These tests are describe below.

  • A thyroid function test involves assessing the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) in a patient’s blood.

TSH is a hormone released from the pituitary gland in the brain. This hormone stimulates the thyroid gland into secreting thyroxine and thyroid hormone. In hypothyroidism, the pituitary gland senses a deficiency in the hormones and secretes more TSH than usual. The levels of TSH are therefore high. The ultrasensitive TSH test is usually the first test performed to detect hypothyroidism and is the most accurate measure of thyroid activity currently available. If the levels of TSH are below normal, a hyperactive thyroid gland is indicated.

  • Measuring the level of thyroxine (the prohormone of thyroid hormone) indicates the level of thyroid hormone circulating in the blood.
  • If the TSH level is raised but the T4 level is low, the patient has an underactive thyroid.
  • If the TSH is raised but the T4 level is normal, the patient is at risk of developing hypothyroidism and maybe asked to attend repeat blood tests, in case they eventually develop the condition.  
  • A physician may also want to check for Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. A blood test is arranged to check for the presence of antibodies against an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase, which plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormones.

Sources

  • http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Thyroid-under-active/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  • http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hypothyroidism_web_booklet.pdf
  • http://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/patients/brochures/Hypo_brochure.pdf
  • https://www.aace.com/
  • https://www.studenthealth.cuimc.columbia.edu/
  • http://www.british-thyroid-association.org/info-for-patients/Docs/bta_patient_hypothyroidism.pdf
  • https://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

Citations

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, July 18). Hypothyroidism Diagnosis. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 28, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hypothyroidism-Diagnosis.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Hypothyroidism Diagnosis". News-Medical. 28 May 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hypothyroidism-Diagnosis.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Hypothyroidism Diagnosis". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hypothyroidism-Diagnosis.aspx. (accessed May 28, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Hypothyroidism Diagnosis. News-Medical, viewed 28 May 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hypothyroidism-Diagnosis.aspx.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.