Expert Advice From Louise O’Connor, Australian Naturopath + Wellness Coach { About the book }

What You Need To Know About Thyroid Testing To Gain The Most Valuable Insights

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thyroid testingEven a small drop in thyroid hormone activity can have a dramatic effect on your emotional and physical well-being.

If you think you may have a thyroid problem, it’s vital to get proper thyroid testing done.

Hypothyroidism, the term for an underactive thyroid, is a very common hormone disorder here in Australia.

What Is The Conventional Approach To Thyroid Testing?

The conventional medical approach to thyroid testing starts with measuring the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) circulating in your bloodstream. If your TSH result is found to be above normal the test is repeated within 2–8 weeks, along with testing thyroxine (T4). The TSH and T4 results are then used to make a diagnosis.

What does it mean when TSH is high?

TSH is the messenger hormone that signals the thyroid to step up production of your thyroid hormones. These hormones play a vital role in regulating your basal metabolic rate, and keeping all your body systems running smoothly.

Your thyroid produces two key hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). T4 is produced in larger quantities and is converted through to T3, the more bioactive form, when T3 is required to step up metabolic function.

When TSH is elevated it indicates your body is trying to get an important message to your thyroid.

It’s easy to miss a thyroid problem with conventional testing. You may be told your thyroid is fine when your TSH, or your TSH and T4 come back as ‘normal’. A normal result may just mean your results fall within a very wide reference range.

A normal TSH is not necessarily optimal…

It’s possible to have symptoms of hypothyroidism and a ‘normal’ TSH result. The problem is, the standard reference range is not an optimal reference range.

Current research shows the optimal TSH reference range is 0.5-2.0 mIU/L. However, most pathology companies continue to use the standard reference range of 0.5-5.0 mIU/L which is much wider. This makes it far harder to pick up a thyroid problem.

There Are Drawbacks To Conventional Thyroid Testing

The single TSH test, or even the TSH plus T4 test is often inadequate to truly understand the state of your thyroid health. You really should investigate in more depth.

Three of the biggest drawbacks to the conventional medical approach are:

+ It fails to test free T3.
When you test both T4 and T3 you can assess your body’s ability to convert T4 to T3. T3 is your most biologically active thyroid hormone so it therefore makes a lot of sense to test it.

+ It fails to test thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies.
This thyroid test is used to confirm a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease. This autoimmune thyroid disorder is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in Australia, especially among women.

It’s important to know the TSH test will not pick up an autoimmune thyroid disorder.

+ It fails to test reverse T3 (RT3).
T4 normally converts to active T3, and inactive RT3. If you are experiencing too much peripheral conversion of T4 to RT3 it triggers a range of hypothyroid symptoms.

In simple terms, RT3 has the reverse effect of T3. Only a specific test of RT3 can test for excess reverse T3.


Comprehensive Thyroid Testing in Australia

NutriPATH Integrative Pathology, Victoria is a reputable functional pathology laboratory that offers comprehensive thyroid testing. The most comprehensive test is the Extensive Thyroid Panel. This is a leading test as it helps the healthcare practitioner understand, and manage a thyroid hormone disorder.

The Extensive Thyroid Panel measures TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3 (RT3), anti-TG antibodies, anti-TPO antibodies, and provides the free T3/RT3 ratio.

This test is not covered by Medicare. In addition, it’s not a standard test normally offered by GPs. It’s a test Naturopaths and integrative medical practitioners like to use.

As a guide NutriPATH Integrative Pathology charge $175 + $20 collection fee for this comprehensive thyroid panel. Their total charge is therefore usually $195.

Note: NutriPATH Integrative Pathology provides a dedicated laboratory testing service based on a practitioner-referral system. To proceed with thyroid testing, you will need a signed pathology request form from your healthcare practitioner.

The actual blood draw is done at a local pathology collection center. The pathology company then sends the blood sample to NutriPATH Integrative Pathology for testing. You may get a separate bill from the pathology company for the blood draw. I recently did the Thyroid Panel and got a bill of $33 from QML for the collection service.

Patients are should seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner for the interpretation of their pathology results, and the associated notes.

** I now offer one-to-one Skype consultations! Please click here to find out more. Skype consultations are available to residents of Australia who wish to gain advice, and guidance regarding specific thyroid health concerns.

RESOURCES

  • NutriPATH Integrated Pathology. Link
  • Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) Manual. Pathology Tests. Link
  • Stop The Thyroid Madness. Recommended Labwork. Link

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Comments

  1. These are my daughters recent labs she’s currently on Levothyroxine for hypothyroidism. TSH – 4.130 T4Free – 1.19, Thyroglob Ab, Quan – 0.9
    Thyroid Peroxidase Ab – 1647.3, are these results “normal”

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Rhonda, your daughter’s test results would not be considered normal especially in regards to the reading for the thyroid peroxidase antibodies. These results should be discussed with a healthcare practitioner who can discuss the most effective treatment plan. Louise

  2. Diane Picha says:

    My thyroid results in October 2015 were: TSH–4.62; Free T4–1.1; Free T3–3.0; and Reverse T3–13.

    A couple months ago, I switched from Naturethroid and Idiozyme to 2 to 3 GTA from Biotics Research capsules; and the doc also added Cataplex F from Standard Processing (2 tablets, 3 times/day) and Mo-zyme by Biotics Research 2 to 3/day.

    I just had a new thyroid panel done. The blood was drawn 4 hours after taking my morning dose of the above protocol. Results: TSH — .5; Free T4–1.13 ng/dL; Free T3–3.6 pg/mL; and Reverse T3–17 ng/dL Based on everything I’m reading, it appears the new protocol has everything on my thyroid panel where it needs to be. Would you agree? If I took the protocol 4 hours before the blood testing (and no food since the day before), would you consider this blood test pretty accurate?

  3. Alanyo Alice Grace says:

    I did the tests in Nov. 2015 and the results were:
    TSH 3.27 uIU/ml
    T3 5.14 pmol/L
    T4 12.30 pmol/L
    All lying within normal ranges. Am yet to go for biopsy (a 2nd time). I will share with you the results.
    However the swelling continues but no significant symptoms/signs.
    I want to thank you endlessly for your concern and goodness in sharing your expertise
    thanks again,
    Alice

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Alice, when you got tested in November last year did you get your thyroid antibodies checked? This is important when you have swelling in the thyroid region. Louise

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