Tests for the Diagnosis of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
If you test positive for thyroid antibodies then a diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis can be made. These antibodies may also be positive in people with Graves' disease. However 10-20 % of patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis don't have high levels of antibodies. If in doubt, an ultrasound may help confirm the diagnosis. An ultrasound will show inflammation associated with auto-immune thyroid disease. TPO antibodies are more sensitive than anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. The antibodies attacking the thyroid gland are as follows;
- TPOAb (thyroperoxidase antibodies)
- TgAb (anti-thyroglobulin antibodies)
Your TSH may be high or normal and your free T4 may be low.
Tests for the Diagnosis of Graves' Disease
Positive thyroid stimulating antibodies (TSAb) are seen in most people with Graves' disease. Alternative names that are used for TSAb are TSH receptor auto-antibodies (TRAb) or thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI). Your TSH may be low or undetectable and your thyroid hormone levels may be raised.
Hypothyroidism can also be caused by a lack of dietary iodine. Iodine is the raw material for the production of thyroid hormone. A urine test can be ordered by the doctor to check your iodine level. The test result will depend on how much iodine you consumed the day before the test. However too much iodine can cause an underactive thyroid too! According to research an excess of iodine can aggravate existing autoimmune disease. You need to avoid both iodine deficiency and iodine excess.
T3 (an inactive hormone) may increase in the following situations;
- Chronic stress
- Chronic dieting and or starvation
- Chronic illness
High levels of reverse T3 and lower levels of T3 (active thyroid hormone) can cause hypothyroidism at tissue level (within the cells). Reverse T3 has the ability to block the cell so the active hormone (T3) cannot enter the cell, resulting in hypothyroidism. This test is not covered by Medicare.
Silent Thyroiditis and Postpartum Thyroiditis
A radioactive iodine uptake test (RAIU) can help you with the correct diagnosis. A high count is indicative of Graves' disease and a low count is indicative of silent thyroiditis or postpartum thyroiditis. Silent thyroiditis is believed to be a silent and temporary attack on the thyroid gland by the immune system. Researchers believe that silent thyroiditis is a variation of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. It commonly occurs in the postpartum period (within the year after childbirth) and may be misdiagnosed as postpartum depression.
Newborn baby's screening test - Congenital hypothyroidism
All newborn babies in Western Australia should take part in two screening programs in the first few days of their life. It is important for babies to receive both of these screening tests as they allow for early detection and intervention for serious conditions. For further information of the full screening tests view http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Healthy-WA/Articles/U_Z/Your-newborn-babys-screening-test
Screening is done for Congenital Hypothyroidism - A lack of the thyroid hormone can lead to poor growth and intellectual disability. If the condition is detected early and he or she is treated with thyroid medication your baby will grow and develop normally.
Tests you can do at home
Taking your Temperature
You can take your temperature when you wake up in the morning. For women this must be done in the first half of the menstrual cycle before ovulation, because after ovulation your body temperature can increase by as much as half a degree. A mercury thermometer is most accurate. When you first wake up you put the thermometer (place next to your bed) under your arm pit for 10 minutes. If you start moving around before you take your temperature then you may not get an accurate reading. The temperature should be between 36.5°C and 36.9°C . Having temperatures below 36.5°C may indicate that you have an underactive thyroid and this should be further investigated.
Taking your Pulse
You can take your pulse in the morning before you get up. If your resting pulse is slow (60-65 beats per minute or lower for example) and you are not taking any medication which could slow down your heart rate, then this may be indicative that you have an underactive thyroid.
The Thyroid Neck Check - Self Monitoring
- The best way to check for lumps, is to sit in front of the mirror with a glass of water.
- Look into the mirror and make sure you can clearly see your neck. Your thyroid gland (a butterfly shaped gland) is located just above the collarbone and just below your Adam's apple.
- Tip your head back and keep looking at your thyroid gland. Take a sip of water and swallow. While you swallow the water, focus on the area below the Adam's apple and watch for any lumps, bulges, enlargements or unusual appearances. A thyroid nodule is likely to move while you swallow.
- If you find anything unusual report it to your doctor right away.
Copyright © 2011-2014 Monique Atkinson
Disclaimer The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. The contents must not be relied upon in place of advice and treatment from a qualified medical practitioner. THYROID WA SUPPORT GROUP INC. and the author disclaim any liability whatsoever.