Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Hypothyroidism diagnosis

All babies are screened at birth to test for congenital hypothyroidism among other conditions. A high level of TSH is used as an indicator of hypothyroidism.

They may also be tested for levels of thyroid autoantibodies11 and given an ultrasound scan. If a subclinical diagnosis is given, they will be tested again after a few months.

How do you get a diagnosis if you suspect you have hypothyroidism?

Getting a hypothyroidism diagnosis is not always easy as your symptoms may be related to other conditions. That’s why it’s important to schedule a provider’s appointment if you are feeling tired for no reason or have any of the above symptoms without an identifiable cause.

Your medical provider will be able to test for hypothyroidism through a series of blood tests12 known as thyroid function tests. These include the measurement of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), total T4 hormone, and free T4 hormone.

It’s really important that you make detailed notes of all of your symptoms. Be as precise as you can and present these to your medical provider so that they can keep a copy in your medical records.

If you forget things easily, take someone along with you for support so they can remind you what was said.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you cold all the time and have to turn the heating up while everyone else in your household thinks it’s warm?
  2. Do you walk around all day in a shorts and t-shirt and need to open windows even when its really cold?
  3. Do you find yourself going to bed early, sleeping in and still needing naps in the afternoon?

However trivial you think your symptoms might be, it’s important to tell your provider if you have any concerns.

What to ask your medical practitioner

Check with your provider whether or not you have had any previous tests for thyroid function. The most common tests are for TSH, T4 and T3 levels. Different states have different boundaries as to what constitutes normal levels, so ask your provider for the actual data rather than just the range (in case you are on the edge of the upper or lower limits).

Having as much information as possible will help you better determine if your hormone levels have gone up or down and by how much, even if the results are still within normal ranges.

What do positive blood tests for hypothyroidism look like?

If a person receives a hypothyroidism diagnosis, this will be because their blood tests show high levels of TSH and low levels of free T4. High levels of free T4 indicate that the pituitary gland is producing more TSH in order to stimulate the thyroid gland into producing more thyroid hormone. However, if free T4 levels are normal and TSH levels are high, this may indicate subclinical hypothyroidism.

Additional tests include checking the levels of anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (to evaluate for autoimmune thyroid disorders) and a fine-needle biopsy when there are thyroid nodules.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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