Preparing for your Appointment

 

Preparing for your Appointment

 

Ask for your test results

First of all, find out whether you have had any previous thyroid tests done. The most common thyroid tests are (TSH) thyroid stimulating hormone, Free T4 (FT4 – your level of thyroxine in the blood) and Free T3 (FT3 – your level of triiodothyronine in the blood. T3 is the active hormone.)  Sometimes thyroid antibody tests will have been done – thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (TgAb).

Unfortunately, many doctors only do the TSH test although some will do TSH, FT4 and thyroid antibodies.  It is very rare to have an FT3 test done to check if you are converting your thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3).

Sometimes the receptionist will give your results to you over the phone but you will probably need to go into the surgery and ask for your test results. You have a right to see your medical records under the Data Protection Act 2018. Guidance on data protection can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/data-protection

Further information on the General Data Protection Act can be found here: https://ico.org.uk/

 

Check your results

Some doctors will tell their patients that their test results are normal.  However, it would be better for you to ask for your exact results i.e. your level as well as the ranges. Be aware that different areas in the country use different test ranges so one TSH test range might be 0.5 – 5.0 but in another area the TSH range might be 0.4 – 4.0.  The same goes for all other thyroid tests.

Although your results may be classed as normal, there are conditions that could explain your symptoms:

 

Other tests that can be useful

Check to see if you have had the following tests done and make a note of your results:

  • Vitamin B12 – the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are very similar to hypothyroidism. The range for vitamin B12 is very wide and you may find improvement with supplements 1
  • Vitamin D – there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid cancer 2
  • Selenium – low selenium can impact on your thyroid health by causing non-conversion of T4 to T3 3
  • Folate – deficiency in folate causes similar symptoms to hypothyroidism 4
  • Iron – iron deficiency anaemia is found in patients with hypothyroidism. The symptoms are very similar to those of hypothyroidism 5
  • Ferritin – links have been found with ferritin deficiency and hypothyroidism 6
  • Zinc – zinc and other trace elements such as copper and selenium are required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones 7
  • Magnesium – low serum magnesium is associated with increased risks of positive anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and hypothyroidism 8
  • Cholesterol – high cholesterol is often a sign of hypothyroidism 9

 

Your symptoms

Tick off all the symptoms you have on our Hypothyroidism Symptom List or Hyperthyroidism Symptom List, adding any symptoms you have that are not listed and rate them on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the worst.

Do this at regular intervals – at the same time as you have tests done is a good idea – and then you can see how you are feeling and tie this in with test results. This will also help you know at which level you feel best for future reference.

 

Keep a diary

Start to keep a diary of all your thyroid test results and their ranges and any other tests plus your pulse rate and weight so that you can see if there are any changes over time i.e. whether your levels have slowly been going up or down or whether you have been putting on or losing weight.

Also, make a note of the following:

  • Do your symptoms follow a pattern?
  • When did the feelings or symptoms begin?
  • Is everyday life, for example sleeping, walking, working, family life more difficult because of these symptoms?
  • Do you have any particular concerns?
  • Is there a family history that you think might be relevant i.e. did/does your mother, grandmother, sister or brother have thyroid disease?
  • What medicines, treatment or supplements have you’ve tried? Make sure you include things you have been taking for other problems.

 

Get informed

Find out as much as you can about the thyroid before your appointment so that your doctor can see you are well informed. Copy information from our Information Pack, thyroid books or research papers and highlight the relevant areas so that you can show these to your doctor.

 

Questions

Make a list of questions you want to ask your doctor in a notepad.   Make sure you have space for the answers. Add to the list as you remember things.

You can get information on the questions you can ask here:
https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/gps/what-to-ask-your-doctor/

 

Your medications

Make a note of all the medications you are on (or take them with you). Don’t forget to list any vitamins, minerals or supplements you are taking.

 

Support

Organise to take someone with you if you can.  Someone who knows you well and has seen how you are now as opposed to how you were in the past is always a good idea.

 

Visiting your doctor

Your doctor is very busy so if you need to have a chat make sure you book a double appointment if you can.

 

Check out what people are saying on our online community: 

https://healthunlocked.com/thyroiduk

 

Thyroid UK relies on donations so that we can continue to support and campaign for people with thyroid disease and related disorders.  If you have found our information helpful, please do think about donating or becoming a member.

Donate

Become a member

 

Glossary

Hypothyroidism – a term used to describe an underactive thyroid gland

Hyperthyroidism – a term used to describe an overactive thyroid gland

Thyroxine (T4) – the main hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland. It is the inactive form

Triiodothyronine (T3) – the active form of the thyroid hormone

 

References

  1. Vitamin B12
    NHS
    Symptoms – Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/symptoms/
  2. The Role of Vitamin D in Thyroid Diseases
    Kim, Dohee
    International journal of molecular sciences vol. 18,9 1949. 12 Sep. 2017
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618598/
  3. Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment
    Ventura, M., Melo, M., & Carrilho, F.
    International journal of endocrinology, 2017
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5307254/
  4. Vitamin B12
    NHS
    Symptoms – Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/symptoms/
  5. Characteristics of anemia in subclinical and overt hypothyroid patients
    Erdogan, M., Kosenli, A., Ganidagli, S., Kulaksizoglu, M.
    Endocrine Journal 2012;59(3):213-20. Epub 2011 Dec 27
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22200582.
  6. The relationship between iron status and thyroid hormone concentration in iron-deficient adolescent Iranian girls
    Eftekhari MH1, Keshavarz SA, Jalali M, Elguero E, Eshraghian MR, Simondon KB.
    Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):50-5
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16500878
  7. Zinc Deficiency Associated with Hypothyroidism: An Overlooked Cause of Severe Alopecia
    Ambooken Betsy, MP Binitha, and S Sarita
    International journal of trichology, 2013, Jan-Mar, 5(1), 40–42
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746228/
  8. Severely low serum magnesium is associated with increased risks of positive anti-thyroglobulin antibody and hypothyroidism: A cross-sectional study
    Wang K, Wei H, Zhang W, et al
    Scientific Reports vol. 8,1 9904. 2 Jul. 2018
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6028657/
  9. Effects of Thyroid Dysfunction on Lipid Profile
    C.V Rizos, M.S Elisaf, and E.N Liberopoulos
    The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal vol. 5 (2011): 76-84
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3109527/

 

Date updated: 24/02/20 (V1.4)
Review date: 16/04/21