Many who have a thyroid condition are thoroughly aware of the many common methods of thyroid testing, which include TSH, T4, T3, and Reverse T3. Even though these are the most frequently used tests for determining thyroid health they may not be the most accurate.
These blood sample based tests are often the only data sets considered by physicians. However, this can leave out important factors of thyroid function. Many are unaware of other, more accurate thyroid tests that can greatly assist thyroid assessment.
Recognizing the inadequacy of some standardized testing methods and learning about the impressive accuracy provided by others can allow for better diagnosis and treatment.
The Trouble with TSH
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is the most widely utilized test to gauge thyroid function. Unfortunately, there are numerous documented cases that show patients can continue to suffer from thyroid-related symptoms such as fatigue, depression, diabetes, weight gain, and PMS, even though their TSH levels fall within “normal ranges” – find out what’s wrong with the TSH test here.
If you’re lucky enough to have a physician who respects your input and recognizes your continued symptoms, additional testing may be done that reveal poor thyroid tissue levels. Reduced T3 tissue levels do not appear on TSH tests and indicate that thyroid function is suffering.
Because TSH is not an effective method of gauging all factors involved with thyroid function it should not be relied on as the sole method of thyroid diagnosis.
More Accurate Testing Options
It is easy to think that the best and only method of testing thyroid function is through measuring thyroid hormones directly, but a greater understanding of thyroid function at the cellular level reveals that this may not be the case.
Even before the revelation of the inadequacy of TSH testing, Thyroflex, BMR, and iodine analysis proved to be effective and impressively accurate methods for assessing thyroid function.
The non-invasive thyroid test method known as Thyroflex allows you to get an accurate assessment of your thyroid function without relying on blood tests.
This method measures conduction velocity moving through a tendon during reflex. The correlation between nerve conduction speed and hypothyroidism was discovered in the 19th century after doctors noted the decreased reaction, or complete absence of, tendon reflexes in patients with low thyroid levels.
Blood tests are incapable of gauging intracellular T3 levels, but by measuring the speed of nerve impulses conducted through nerve cells and muscles cell functionality and energy levels can be properly assessed; both of which are closely associated with thyroid hormone availability and production.
The process of Thyroflex testing is simple. Rather than having blood drawn, the patient is equipped with a sensor located just above the middle knuckle on their left hand. After the sensor is confirmed on the Thyroflex computer, a location above the brachioradialis tendon, which is found in the forearm, is indicated and stimulated – stimulating this area causes the middle finger to react involuntarily. The computer measures the reaction time and calculates the average conduction speed.
This allows doctors to acquire accurate data on an individual’s intracellular thyroid function. Even though this method doesn’t require direct measurement of thyroid hormones, it provides accurate information of thyroid function that is not gained through standard thyroid blood tests.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Thyroid function has significant influence over metabolic activity. Generally, thyroid blood tests are the method of choice for assessing your metabolism. However, there are other, more accurate ways to assess these levels.
By measuring the amount of oxygen used in metabolic processes through calorimetry, it is possible to gauge thyroid functionality.
Oxygen consumption correlates to the number of calories burned in the process, which provides an accurate representation of the metabolic function. Metabolizing one millimeter of oxygen equates to burning 4.813 calories. After calculating the amount of oxygen consumed, it is a simple process of converting that number into the number of calories expended.
If a person’s BMR is abnormally low this is an indication of hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid function. Alternatively, if the metabolic rate is elevated it could suggest the presence of hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid.
Calculating your BMR allows physicians to assess your thyroid function leading to the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Iodine Urine Test
Iodine is a water-soluble substance that is a necessary element for various systems throughout the body including the liver, adrenals, and the thyroid. The primary role of iodine is to facilitate the production of thyroid hormones.
When there are appropriate levels of iodine in the body, it is converted into iodide, which is later used in the production of thyroid hormones. Reduced levels of iodine can cause hypothyroidism and thyroid inflammation. Alternatively, excess iodine in the system may result in overactive thyroid function or hyperthyroidism.
As such a critical component of thyroid function, testing your iodine levels allows for an accurate assessment of thyroid ability. A common method for testing thyroid activity is a urine test. Assessing iodine levels in this manner is simple because halting medication and fasting are not required for accurate results.
Dr. David Brownstein, Author of Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It states that treating thyroid illness, including autoimmune disorders, while the patient is iodine deficient is impossible.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to suffer from iodine deficiency. Iodine levels have decreased by more than 50% over the last 40 years according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provided by the Centers for Disease Control. Part of this decrease may be explained by greater exposure to toxins such as bromine, fluoride, and chlorine derivatives. Increased contact with these chemicals increases the body’s demand for iodine. If it doesn’t get enough, you may experience serious thyroid dysfunction.
Thorough Testing for Thyroid Health
Even though the medical community has accepted TSH and other blood tests for thyroid hormones as the standard for assessing thyroid function, it does not mean they are the best methods available. Utilizing other non-blood thyroid tests such as Thyroflex, BMR, and iodine testing all provide information that is overlooked with standardized thyroid tests.
Be sure to get the full view of your thyroid by pursuing tests that look at more than just hormone levels in the bloodstream.