Your thyroid is a small endocrine gland, located under the larynx in the neck. The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that ensure proper function of all organs, including the brain, heart, and muscles. Too little or too much thyroid hormone can cause mild to severe symptoms and illness.
Too little thyroid hormone is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include a slow metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, sensitivity to cold, memory loss, and abnormal menstrual cycle.
Hyperthyroidism results when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone. Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include weight loss, difficulty sleeping, increased bowel movements, brittle hair, and muscle weakness.
If you are struggling with symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, a thyroid evaluation is of the highest importance. Other reasons to consider a thyroid evaluation include a family history of thyroid disorder, taking prescription medications that may affect the thyroid gland (such as Lithium or Amiodarone), or exposure to radiation therapy of the head or neck.
There are a variety of tests used by doctors to check thyroid levels and determine the cause of irregular thyroid hormone levels. The first test ordered by a physician is often blood work, checking TSH, Free T4, and Free T3 levels. Basal Body Temperature and a TRH Stimulation Test may also be ordered. Additional evaluation can include a thyroid CRT scan, fine needle aspiration, and thyroid ultrasound.