Interpreting TSH Blood Test Results

If your doctor has ordered a TSH blood test, he is probably concerned that you may be suffering from hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. The TSH blood test-also known as the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test-is usually ordered alongside a T3 test and a T4 test. The results of these three tests are used in conjunction to diagnose thyroid-related health conditions.

TSH blood tests are used to diagnose thyroid disorders, to check underactive thyroids in infants, measure the effectiveness of thyroid replacement efforts for people suffering hypothyroidism, monitor infertility therapy for women and to assist in evaluations of pituitary gland function. If you have symptoms of either hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid, your doctor will use this set of tests as he seeks to give you a diagnosis and treatment plan.

You can use the following guidelines to help you interpret your TSH, T3 and T4 blood test results:

  • If your TSH blood test comes back with higher than average numbers, and your T3 and T4 blood tests come back in the normal range, you probably have what is considered subclinical, or mild hypothyroidism.
  • If your TSH blood test comes back with higher than average numbers, and your T4 blood test comes back with lower than average numbers and your T3 blood test comes back with low or average numbers, you probably have clinical hypothyroidism.
  • If your TSH blood test comes back with lower than average numbers, but your T4 and T3 blood tests show normal numbers, you probably have subclinical, or mild hyperthyroidism.
  • If your TSH blood test comes back with lower than average numbers, but your T4 and T3 blood tests come back as either higher than average or in the normal range, you probably have hyperthyroidism.
  • If your TSH blood test comes back with lower than average numbers, but your T3 and T4 blood tests come back as lower than average or normal numbers, you most likely have pituitary hypothyroidism. This is a less common form of hypothyroidism.

When you go in for your TSH blood test, be sure to tell you doctor about all medications you are currently taking. Some medications will affect the test results. Make sure to mention if you have been under duress as of late, if you are pregnant or if you have experienced the onset of any serious illness as these factors can also skew results.

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