ZocdocAnswersHow is a thyroid test performed?

Question

How is a thyroid test performed?

I think I have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, because I'm lethargic and gaining weight, and it runs in my family. If I go to a doctor, how will he test me? I'm scared to death of needles.

Answer

You should have your thyroid examined along with a complete physical examination as part of your routine care. As you suggested, the symptoms of hypothyroidism can be weight gain and lethargy. In addition, you can have constipation, changes in skin and hair and lower leg swelling and the disease tends to cluster in families. Your doctor will check your thyroid first by performing a complete thyroid physical examination. If the physical exam reveals anything, you can then have additional testing performed, such as an ultrasound. In addition, he will send a blood test called TSH to check the functioning of your thyroid. You will have to have your blood drawn for this test to be sent but it is the only way that the function of this gland can be assessed. This test is essential for checking the functioning of the gland. If your TSH is elevated (sign of hypothyrodism) you will be started on a medication for thyroid replacement. Once you have started the medication, your TSH will be followed and the dose of the medication will be adjusted according to this value so you might have to have your blood drawn a few more times. Your symptoms should start to respond within a few weeks if the medicine is at the right dose. Regardless of your fears, you should go to a doctor to discuss your symptoms and have an examination and make a decision about how to proceed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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