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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. Read more information on the General Data Protection Act.

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:

    • Hashimoto’s disease – (the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism)  – you have high thyroid antibodies

    • Graves’ disease – (the autoimmune form of hyperthyroidism) – you have high thyroid antibodies

 

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

    • 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 Hypothyroid Symptoms List or Hyperthyroid Symptoms List, adding any 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. Read more information on the questions you can ask.

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 likely very busy so, if you need to have an in-depth chat, make sure you book a longer appointment if you can.


For more support check out our online community:
http://www.healthunlocked.com/thyroiduk

 

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 anaemia 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/

 

Glossary 

Anaemia – a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness

Antibodies – protein produced in the blood that fight diseases by attacking and killing harmful bacteria

Autoimmune – patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues

Conversion – the change from one hormone to another

Deficiency – a lack of, or shortage of something

Dysfunction – a problem or fault in a part of the body

Endocrinology – the branch of physiology and medicine concerned with endocrine glands and hormones

Hypothyroidism – a term used to describe an underactive thyroid gland

Hyperthyroidism – a term used to describe an overactive thyroid gland

Pituitary – of or relating to the pituitary gland

Subclinical – not detectable, or producing effects that are not detectable, by the usual clinical tests

Synthesis – something that is made by combining different things Testosterone – the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid

Thyroglobulin – a protein made by cells in the thyroid

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

Tri-iodothyronine (T3) – the active form of the thyroid hormone

 

 

Date updated: 04/05/21 (V1.5)
Review date: 16/04/22

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