What is a thyroid function test?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the neck. The two main hormones produced by the thyroid are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Both are collectively referred to as thyroid hormones and both can be detected in the thyroid function test. The thyroid helps regulate several processes such as metabolism, energy generation and mood. Thyroid hormones stimulate appetite, digestion, breakdown, and absorption of nutrients. They also regulate oxygen consumption, breathing rate, heart rate, and heart contraction strength.
At Phoenix Hospital Group, our multidisciplinary team can provide you with a thyroid test, or thyroid function test (TFT), a diagnostic blood test that checks how well your thyroid is functioning.
There are two main thyroid issues: hypothyroidism, when your thyroid is not producing enough hormones, or hyperthyroidism, when it is producing too much. These conditions can be easily detected by a thyroid function test like the one offered at Phoenix Hospital Group.
Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is characterised by a low metabolic rate, combined with slow respiratory and cardiovascular activities. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include tiredness, low mood, weight gain, being sensitive to cold, loss of sex drive, brittle hair and nails, and irregular or heavy periods.
An underactive thyroid is treated by taking daily hormone tablets that replace the thyroxine T4 hormone, which your thyroid does not make enough of. A thyroid test will help determine the correct dose of hormone replacement that you need to take.
Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is characterised by a high metabolic rate, combined with increased respiratory and cardiovascular activities. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include nervousness, mood swing, difficulty sleeping, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, and sensitivity to heat.
Hyperthyroidism is treated with drugs that stop the excessive production of hormones, or radioactive iodine treatment that destroys the hyperactive thyroid cells, or sometimes with surgical removal of the thyroid.
Another common condition is the presence of thyroid nodules, solid or fluid-filled lumps that can form within your thyroid. Most thyroid nodules do not cause any symptoms and are not a cause for concern. However, a small percentage of nodules are cancerous and that’s why it is important to check them. At Phoenix Hospital Group, we offer a state-of-the-art Afirma Thyroid FNA Analysis that allows you to get the full clinical story of your nodule. This test uses Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA), where a very thin needle (smaller than the one used to draw blood) is used to extract cells from the nodule under the guidance of ultrasound. We then send the cells to be analysed by specialists in thyroid pathology. Although most nodules are benign, the only way to be sure is to look closely at the cells with this test.
Other endocrine conditions to keep under control
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulates metabolism, growth and development, sleep and mood, sexual function, and reproduction, amongst other things. The endocrine system includes the ovaries (in females), testicles (in males), adrenal glands, pancreas, pituitary gland (in the brain), thyroid, and parathyroid glands.
Your endocrinological health is essential because hormones control almost every aspect of our physical and mental health.
- PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome – characterised by an imbalance of the female sexual hormones luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
- Menopause – characterised by a decline in the hormone called estrogen
- Fertility issues – often caused by hormone imbalances that can be corrected
- Fatigue – although this is a non-specific symptom, many endocrinological disorders result in fatigue.
- Pancreas function – your pancreatic hormones regulate blood sugar levels, which are connected to diabetes.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) – can be caused by an hormonal imbalance
- Osteoporosis – hormones play a key part in the development of osteoporosis
To book an appointment with one of our endocrinology specialists, contact us today.