Thyroid Disease: Classified Into Two Types

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Thyroid Disease: Classified Into Two Types

The thyroid gland produces hormones which are crucial in regulating many bodily functions, including basic metabolism. Thyroid function is also greatly influenced by the status of the adrenal glands.

Thyroid disease is very broadly classified into two types. Hypothyroidism results from too little circulating thyroid hormones and is characterized by fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, hair loss, and mental or memory impairment. Too much thyroid hormone results in hyperthyroidism, which can cause nervousness, irritability, weight loss, frequency of bowel movement, impaired fertility, fatigue, muscle weakness, poor appetite, and menstrual disturbances.

What is TSH?

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) – Is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and whose function is to signal the thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormone. It represents the pituitary’s need or desire for more or less thyroid hormone. An optimal value of TSH means the thyroid hormone levels match the body’s energy needs and/or ability to utilize the energy.

TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, a tiny organ located below the brain and behind the sinus cavities. It is part of the body’s feedback system to maintain stable amounts of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) in the blood and to help control the rate at which the body uses energy.

TSH testing is used to:

  • Diagnose a thyroid disorder in a person with symptoms
  • Screen newborns for an underactive thyroid
  • Monitor thyroid replacement therapy in people with hypothyroidism
  • Monitor anti-thyroid treatment in people with hyperthyroidism
  • Help diagnose and monitor infertility problems in women
  • Help evaluate the function of the pituitary gland (occasionally)
  • Screen adults for thyroid disorders, although expert opinions vary on who can benefit from screening and at what age to begin

When Is a Test Needed?

A health practitioner may order a TSH test when someone has symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism and/or when a person has an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).

Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea (sometimes)
  • Light sensitivity, visual disturbances
  • The eyes may be affected: puffiness around the eyes, dryness, irritation, and, in some cases, bulging of the eyes.

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Cold intolerance
  • Puffy skin
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual irregularity in women


It is important to recognize that the normal range given on your lab report is very wide. For your test result to be out of range indicates a large change has occurred. Although still considered normal, a test result very high or low within the normal range is still indicative of a large change. The Free T3 and the Free T4 thyroid tests are recommended as follow-up tests. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Lab Tests Online).

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