Thyroid Gland, Hormones and Thyroid Problems, Animation

10 Factors That Affect Thyroid Levels


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Testing is a fact of life if you're being treated for hypothyroidism — and accurate testing is key. But any number of things can throw off your test results. Knowing what those factors might be is paramount to keeping them from affecting your tests, and ultimately your health.

The medication your doctor prescribes for hypothyroidism replaces the thyroid hormone that your body doesn’t make. The goal of taking thyroid hormone is to get you on a dosage that eliminates symptoms of hypothyroidism — such as fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, weight gain, feeling cold — and keeps them away, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) says. Generally, that means keeping thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels within a range of 0.4 to 4.0 milli-international units per liter (mIU/L).

Doing that requires regular testing to be sure your dosage doesn’t need to be adjusted. Results may vary, though, from one test to another. Some slight variation in test results is normal and nothing to worry about, according to ATA. More significant variations, however, could indicate the need for a medication dosage change.

Here’s what you should know to get the most accurate results.

TSH Testing Variables

Your thyroid levels can be affected by a number of outside factors, such as:

You test at different times of the day.Thyroid levels tend to go up at night and down during the day, according to the ATA. However, this variation is very slight, says Terry F. Davies, MD, a professor of endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

You go to different labs for testing.Results may vary from lab to lab, but even if you go to the same lab, your results can vary from test to test, the ATA says. The lab may get one reading one time and a slightly higher or lower reading the next.

You switch brands.A number of companies manufacture thyroid hormone, all of which are slightly different. Your body can react differently to the different brands. The ATA recommends you stick with the brand that you know works for you to avoid fluctuations in TSH levels.

You skip pills.To get the most out of your treatment, it’s important to take your thyroid medication as prescribed. Although the medication you take — T4 (thyroxine), the main hormone made by the thyroid — stays in your blood for a long time, missing a few days in a row, or consistently missing here and there, could affect your test results, say Norma Lopez, MD, an associate professor of endocrinology at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago.

You take the wrong dosage.Say you are scheduled to take 700 micrograms (mcg) a week (100 mcg once daily) but miss two pills and end up taking only 500 mcg. Your body will know and react to the lower dosage. The same goes if you take too much. “Taking even an extra half-pill for several weeks can affect your levels,” Dr. Lopez says.

You’re inconsistent.One day you take your pill on an empty stomach, the next you take it with a meal. The best time of day to take thyroid medication is generally when you wake up in the morning on an empty stomach, according to the ATA. That’s because food can affect how the hormone is absorbed. But the most important thing is to be consistent and take your medication at the same time and in the same way every day, the ATA says. If you always take your pill with meals, you may need a higher dosage than if you always take it without having eaten.

You become pregnant.You still need to take your thyroid medication if you become pregnant. In fact, you might even need more because you and your developing baby need it. “As soon as we find out a woman is pregnant, we increase her thyroid dosage,” Lopez says. Like pregnancy, menopause can also affect your hormone levels. “Some women need less thyroid medication in menopause, but not always,” she says.

You take other medications.Some medications can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone. For example, starting or stopping oral contraceptives can make a difference, Dr. Davies says. Also, medications that contain iron or calcium can affect absorption, he says. Antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and corticosteroids can affect your thyroid levels, too, according to the ATA. So can herbs and supplements, so tell your doctor if you add any to your daily regimen.

You get sick.“If you become very sick, your TSH can be suppressed,” Davies says. Being ill can put stress on your endocrine system, so you may need to adjust your medication while you're sick.

You change your diet.Some foods can affect your thyroid levels, especially if you eat them uncooked and in large amounts. These include vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale; nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and walnuts; corn; and soy, according to Thyroid UK, a nonprofit organization that provides information to those with thyroid or related diseases.

Thyroid Testing Reminders

When you’re adjusting your dose, “you need to be tested every six to eight weeks to be sure you’re getting your thyroid levels to where they need to be,” Lopez says. “If you have been on a stable dosage for a year or two, testing every six months to a year is appropriate.”

Talk to your doctor if you have changes in symptoms. You may need to adjust your medication, depending on what your test results show.

Video: Examining abnormal thyroid function during pregnancy.

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Date: 10.12.2018, 14:03 / Views: 93154