Thyroid disorders are complex, and they usually are very different experiences for each person diagnosed with them. This is why it is essential to understand how the thyroid gland works and what hormones it produces, as well as how to check the general function of your thyroid gland at home.
What is the thyroid gland?
The British Thyroid Foundation (BTF) explains the thyroid gland as “a gland in your neck that makes two hormones that are secreted into the blood: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).”
They also say that the hormones T4 and T3 are “necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally.”
What is the difference between T3 and T4?
Your thyroid gland is controlled by a structure in your brain (the hypothalamus) and the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus releases the thyrotropin hormone, which triggers the pituitary gland to produce the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH then helps your thyroid gland to release T3 and T4. Without the TSH, this whole process wouldn’t work.
T4 (thyroxine) is responsible for your body temperature, metabolism and mood, amongst other things.
T3 (triiodothyronine) oversees your bone health and is at the centre of your digestive and metabolic function.
If your T3 and T4 levels are too low, your pituitary gland will release more TSH to combat this, whereas if they are too high, it will release less TSH.
What can go wrong with the thyroid gland?
There are two primary disorders associated with the thyroid gland:
- Hypothyroidism – where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Also known as an underactive thyroid.
- Hyperthyroidism – where the thyroid gland produces too many hormones. Also known as an overactive thyroid.
The symptoms typically associated with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) include:
- Feelings of irritation
- Hair loss
- Skipped periods
- Tremours and shaking
The symptoms typically associated with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) include:
- Brain fog
- Dry skin
- Memory issues
- Weight gain
Other disorders associated with the thyroid gland are:
- Thyroid cancer: a very rare type of cancer
- Thyroid eye disease: more common in patients with overactive thyroids due to Graves disease
- Nodules or neck swelling: can be uncomfortable or stop the thyroid from working correctly.
- Postpartum thyroiditis: Can be triggered when you have a baby
How to test your thyroid levels
If you feel your hormones are unbalanced, or you are concerned about your thyroid levels, then you can use Test2Go Thyroid Diagnosis and Monitoring test at home to check the general function of your thyroid gland.
Our home test kit, which requires a finger-prick blood sample to be provided, can give you an excellent indication of whether your thyroid gland is functioning normally.
All sample collection and return instructions are included in the kit, and you should have your result within two working days of us receiving your sample back at our accredited lab.
NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. You should not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.