Have you recently been told you need your thyroid checked? You may be unsure what your thyroid is, and if it’s even important enough to be tested. It is! Your thyroid is a small gland found near the bottom of your neck (it’s located just below the Adam’s apple in males). For being so small, it does quite a big job: it makes thyroid hormone that travels in your blood to the other parts of the body. Inflammation of the thyroid can cause issues like hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones) or hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormones). It’s very important to know if your thyroid is functioning properly, and to understand the causes and symptoms of these issues.
The CPT code of Thyroid Test is 84443.
The thyroid and its function
The thyroid itself is a small gland that is shaped like a butterfly. It’s located in the front of the neck, and is wrapped by the trachea (also known as the “windpipe”). The thyroid is an essential organ that does the work of producing hormones that help regulate other hormones in the body. The hormones of the thyroid work together to maintain a balance within the body, and help keep up your metabolism (the conversion of food to energy for your cells).
If the thyroid isn’t working properly, it can start to make too little or too many hormones. These hormones help control the body and are called the T4 (thyroxin) and T3 (triiodothyronine) hormones. TSH is the thyroid stimulating hormone, and it is a pituitary hormone that tells the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4. If you are having certain symptoms (check the list of symptoms below), you should immediately go for testing, because having hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can affect various functions in your body over time.
What are the symptoms of Thyroid disease?
It is hard to detect thyroid problems without a blood test. However, if your thyroid hormones are too high, signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism might show up in these ways:
- Experiencing irritability, anxiety and nervousness
- Insomnia (not being able to sleep or stay asleep)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Oversensitivity to heat and cold
- Eye irritation
You may be experiencing hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormones) if you’re having these symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Weight gain
- Heavy menstrual cycles
- Dry and coarse hair
- Having hoarse voice
- Extreme intolerance to cold temperatures.
What is a TSH test?
A TSH test is what is done to diagnose thyroid levels. A blood test done to diagnose thyroid problems will measure the levels of TSH in your blood. A high level of TSH can show an underactive thyroid, because your pituitary gland is making extra TSH to stimulate your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. A low level of TSH means you have an overactive thyroid, which can be due to things like Graves Disease (an immune system problem), too much iodine, too much thyroid medication if you’re already taking some, or too much of a supplement that is stimulating the thyroid. The TSH blood test is very common and relatively simple.
- You may be asked to stop taking medications you are on to prepare for the test, so that they don’t interfere with the results. For the less common test called a “Free T3” or “Free T4” test (it measures the amount of the hormone in the body that is able to enter the bodily tissues), you may have to stop taking some supplements, such as biotin. Always check with your provider before you stop or pause any of your medications.
- You will have a small amount of blood drawn, and will not need to do additional things like fasting beforehand.
TSH levels are normal if the range is 0.4 to 5 mIU/Litre for the average person. For pregnant women, the TSH levels might be high. (Source: Mayo Clinic, 2019)
Cost of a thyroid test
TSH tests are very common, which makes price management a problem. In certain cities, you may find that clinics and providers are charging very different prices for the same test.
If you have insurance, you will likely have a co-pay that will range from $0-$30. Your insurance will cover the remaining costs. For those without insurance, your cost may range from $35-$500.
Factors affecting the TSH test cost:
Where you have the test done greatly affects the cost. If you visit a clinic or office, you may pay less than an outpatient center or a hospital. If you are already being treated for a thyroid issue, and the test is for a checkup, you may be charged less for multiple tests over time.
There is a wide variety of thyroid testing kits available for the patient to do at home. This sounds very convenient, but you should never verify the results yourself unless you are a physician. These types of kits have resulted in accidents where patients started self-diagnosing and even treating themselves because of the results they received. This can be lethal, because the thyroid gland is so delicate and your levels of hormones are so important. Please remember to use a verified health provider and check with them before using any at-home tests, and then be sure to have them verify your report. Your provider will know your health history and will factor that into any treatment plan.
ZeaMed comes with a hassle-free service for all the blood tests you need.