Thyroid diseases are common endocrine disorders that can affect many aspects of your life. Thyroid hormone testing is usually performed to diagnose and manage many different types of thyroid malfunction, but did you know that you can get different thyroid tests at home?
Keep reading this article to learn more about hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism testing at home.
What is thyroid disease?
Your thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck. Despite its small size, this gland is responsible for secreting a number of hormones that can affect practically any process inside the human body. As a result, any type of thyroid disorder can lead to a wide array of symptoms and health complications. The main hormones produced and released by the thyroid are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
According to the Cleveland Clinic, thyroid hormones work by telling your organism how much energy to use, thus regulating your metabolism. Your body is continuously using thyroid hormones, and under normal conditions, your thyroid gland will work constantly to replace these hormones.
The thyroid can become either overactive or underactive, depending on the cause of the problem. Your symptoms will vary depending on the type of thyroid disease that you have developed.
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a type of thyroid disease that happens when your thyroid gland becomes underactive and can’t produce the amount of thyroid hormones that your body needs to stay healthy. This can cause many functions in your body to slow down.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, most cases of hypothyroidism are mild and have few symptoms. There are different conditions that can cause hypothyroidism, and the condition is more common among women and people over the age of 60. Some of the most common causes of hypothyroidism include:
Radiotherapy affecting the thyroid gland
Surgical removal of the thyroid or part of it
Pituitary gland or hypothalamus disorders
Insufficient iodine intake (although this cause is increasingly rare in developed countries)
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:
Intolerance to cold
Muscle and joint pain
Dry skin and/or hair
Irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, happens when your thyroid is overactive, which means that you have an excess of thyroid hormones circulating through your blood. This can speed up many processes in your body.
Similarly to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is more common in women and those over 60 years old. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, possible causes of hyperthyroidism include:
Excessive iodine intake
Overactive nodules on your thyroid
Excessive thyroid hormone dosage
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are typically the opposite of hypothyroidism symptoms. They can include:
Intolerance to heat
Rapid heart rate and/or breathing
How to test thyroid health at home
It’s very important to keep in mind that you’ll need to see a doctor if you believe you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder. While certain thyroid blood tests at home may help you monitor your condition and alert you to any significant changes in your hormone levels, you shouldn’t attempt to use thyroid self test kits to diagnose yourself.
Thyroid self testing at home can work in different ways, depending on the provider you’re using and the exact test that you order. Some companies offer home thyroid test kits that only require a fingerprick blood sample which you can collect yourself. After collecting the sample, you’ll be required to send it back to the company for testing. You’ll typically receive your test results within a few days.
You can also use a direct-to-consumer home testing service, which allows you to request a lab test at a certified lab yourself, without having to see a physician first. You’ll still need to discuss any lab results with a healthcare provider.
Best at home thyroid test
HealthLabs has one of the widest ranges of tests available that can be used for overactive or underactive thyroid self testing. This company allows you to get tested at one of over 4,500 affiliated labs without requiring a doctor’s referral.
One of their most popular thyroid test-at-home kits is the Thyroid Panel ($39), which includes T3 uptake, T4 and free thyroxine testing. They offer other thyroid testing options, such as the Thyroid Panel with TSH ($59), Free T3 ($99), Free T4 ($39), TSH ($39), and TPO Antibodies ($79) tests, among others.
LetsGetChecked is another great option for thyroid testing. You’ll receive a test kit with everything you need to collect and return your fingerprick samples, and your results will be emailed within 2-5 days.
This company offers two options for thyroid testing: the Thyroid Test ($99), which includes TSH, free T3, and T4 testing; and the Thyroid Antibody Test ($119) which tests your TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroglobulin antibodies, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies levels.
If your results are abnormal, you’ll also receive a detailed lab report and have access to a consultation with a healthcare professional.
myLAB Box offers a few different testing panels featuring thyroid hormone testing. After purchasing a test kit from this company, you’ll receive a test kit in order to collect your own samples and return them to the lab. myLAB Box also offers free medical consultations to their patients.
The company offers the At Home Thyroid Health Screening Test ($119), which includes T3, T4, TSH, and TPO testing. Other testing panels include thyroid hormone tests as part of wider testing, including their At Home Weight Loss Test ($239), Metabolism Test ($99), and At Home Anti-Aging Test ($199).
Results are typically available within 2-5 days. At-home thyroid test reviews for this company also praise the results as “easy to decipher” and “timely”.
Thyroid Disease - my.clevelandclinic.org
Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid) - niddk.nih.gov