Thyroid Awareness Month: Who Should Get TSH Screening?
January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and thyroid disorders are just one of many health complications that can lie undetected in our bodies for years. This may happen because symptoms are either so subtle or evolve so slowly over time that we explain them away with excuses like lack of sleep or aging. Thyroid conditions, like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, are not routinely screened for during a typical physical. This means that everyone plays a key role in understanding who needs Thyroid Stimulating Hormone testing (typically referred to as TSH screening), and when.
When to Perform TSH Testing
Most medical professionals perform TSH testing in only three situations. The first is during the routine monitoring of a newborn child. The second is throughout the lifespan of someone already diagnosed with a thyroid condition, to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. However, the third and most common reason to test someone is when they are reporting symptoms consistent with thyroid-related disorders.
Many of the symptoms associated with thyroid conditions can overlap with other health concerns or fly under the radar for years at a time. It is important to receive thyroid screening if you experience any of the following:
- Intolerance of cold or hot temperatures
- Chills or sweating
- Dry skin
- Foggy thinking
- Protruding eyes
- Swollen face
- Heart rate that is too slow or too rapid
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Hair loss
- Changes in appetite
- Unusual weight gain or weight loss
- Enlarged thyroid gland
These symptoms are present in a number of conditions but it is important to find out if an undiagnosed thyroid disorder is the cause. Going without treatment for thyroid conditions can lead to a number of serious health complications including heart problems, mental health issues, infertility, and goiters.
Luckily, screening for thyroid disorders is quick and easy. While traditional blood tests performed in a medical laboratory or physician’s office can provide results, point of care testing devices makes testing convenient and stress-free. Hanson’s HMS Diagnostix-TSH Test provides accurate TSH test results with a simple prick of the finger. This valuable resource can be used by everyone, with no medical license required.
Should Everyone Be Screened for Thyroid Conditions?
While all health screening services can help diagnose underlying health issues, the medical community is divided on whether or not everyone needs testing for thyroid disorders. One of the most common indicators of an undiagnosed thyroid disorder is an abnormal TSH test result. However, having an abnormal TSH level does not necessarily mean one is affected by a thyroid condition. Testing when symptoms are not present increases the likelihood of a false positive and can lead to unnecessary treatments or costly additional testing.
In general, thyroid testing is most helpful when an individual is reporting symptoms consistent with a thyroid disorder. That being said, thyroid conditions can affect both men and women, children and adults. Anyone with concerning symptoms should be investigated as soon as possible. Point of care tests, also called POC tests, are valuable assets when it comes to quick detection of underlying health issues, but any abnormal results should be followed up with a medical professional immediately.