The Importance of Thyroid Screening and Prevention

The thyroid gland produces hormones that aid energy metabolism, body temperature regulation, and proper heart and brain function. Your healthcare provider can check your thyroid with blood tests. These can measure thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine, and thyroxine.

The advantages of screening for thyroid disease in asymptomatic, non-pregnant adults are not supported by any concrete data. Indirect evidence shows that the harms of screening can be substantial, including false-positive results, psychological distress overdiagnosis, and overtreatment.

Thyroid Blood Tests

Thyroid hormones help your body use energy, control infant brain development and regulate growth and metabolism as you age. The thyroid gland is in the front of your neck, below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid makes two main hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Both are iodine-containing proteins that circulate in the bloodstream. Most thyroid hormones circulating in your body are bound to protein, with only a tiny fraction that’s free (and able to enter tissues and exert its biological effect).

A quick blood test is necessary to determine if your thyroid functions correctly. The most popular test for determining the level of thyroid hormone in the blood is the T4 test. A tiny sample of your blood is drawn and sent to a lab for analysis. Another blood test, thyroxine uptake, shows how much thyroid hormone your body takes up from the bloodstream. You may need to fast before this test.

Thyroid Ultrasound

Ultrasounds for thyroid Denver are quick and painless, allowing doctors to see the thyroid gland’s shape, size, and position. They can also detect a lump (nodule) or other abnormality.

During this test, a provider will place a handheld device against your neck to send sound waves and receive the echoes that come back. This information is analyzed and turned into an image on the screen. Doctors can also use the technique to check the blood supply of a thyroid nodule, which can help determine whether it is solid or filled with fluid.

Because of its real-time images, ultrasound can guide procedures such as needle biopsies. It is also instrumental in determining whether a nodule is cancerous or not, as well as in assessing the severity of a tumor. It is important to note, however, that screening tests can lead to overdiagnosis. When this happens, people may be subjected to diagnostic tests (such as fine-needle aspiration biopsy) and unnecessary treatment, such as surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.

Physical Exam

The thyroid gland, situated close to the front of the neck, secretes hormones that control metabolism and help the body use energy more efficiently. When it doesn’t work well, you may experience symptoms like weight gain, tiredness, and feelings of depression. If you have too many hormones, your body might feel like it’s on a high, with symptoms such as tremors and a fast heartbeat (hyperthyroidism).

Your doctor can find the source of your thyroid problem through a blood test called a thyroid panel. The test measures levels of thyroid hormones in the blood and can diagnose disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters, and thyroid nodules.

The panel can be performed at your doctor’s office or in a kit that you take home. Your insurance will cover the test in a medical setting, but you’ll be responsible for associated copays and deductibles.

Thyroid Scan

An imaging test called a thyroid scan aids medical professionals in determining the anatomy and functionality of the gland. It shows the location of any nodules, as well as whether they are enlarged and if there is a change in shape or size.

For this test, you will take a radioactive tracer, usually either iodine or technetium, into your body via an injection, pill, or liquid. As the radiotracer travels through your body, it gives off radiation as a special camera and computer detect gamma rays.

The camera then takes pictures of the area that has taken up the iodine or technetium, providing molecular information about the studied area.

This test should not be administered to women who are nursing since the radioactive tracer could enter the breast milk and harm the unborn child. Discard any breast milk you pump in the 1 or 2 days following this test. Also, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications or have had previous nuclear medicine tests.

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