Hypothyroidism Diagnosis

The diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be complicated by the fact that there are a wide range of possible symptoms that may be experienced, each of which could also be caused by other medical conditions. The symptoms that are experienced by individual patients with hypothyroidism can also vary widely and change over time. The physical symptoms of an under active thyroid may convince a physician to test for hypothyroidism, but it will be necessary to conduct blood tests in order to come to a definitive diagnosis.

The diagnosis of a patient with suspected hypothyroidism will begin with a physical examination. The doctor will check for any symptoms that could be the result of an under active thyroid, or which might indicate that there is another reason for the patient’s problems. During the diagnosis process, the doctor will be looking for signs that support a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, but they will also be looking for any other possible explanations that rule out hypothyroidism.

During the physical examination, the doctor will look for symptoms of hypothyroidism such as skin that is pale or dry, brittle fingernails and thin, brittle hair. They will also check for swelling in the arm and legs.

The doctor will also check the thyroid gland in the course of the physical exam. The thyroid is located in the neck. If the patient has hypothyroidism then their thyroid gland may be smaller than usual, although it could also be normally sized or enlarged. A larger than normal thyroid gland is known as goiter. Any changes to the thyroid gland are often indicative of a thyroid problem, although without testing the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood it is impossible to determine whether the problem is due to an under active or an overactive thyroid.

In some cases, the doctor may use a blood chest to check for an enlarged heart, as this can be a symptom of hypothyroidism.

The doctor will take blood samples in order to test the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood. The main tests used in the diagnosis of hypothyroidism measure the levels of the thyroid hormone T4, also known as thyroxine, and the hormone Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland to regulate the thyroid gland.

If the thyroid gland is under active, then the level of T4 will be lower than normal. The Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test will help the doctor to determine the cause of any abnormality in the level of thyroid hormones. If there is an abnormally low level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone in the blood then it indicates the hypothyroidism could be the result of a problem with the pituitary gland, rather than with the thyroid gland itself. If the levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone are higher than normal, then it implies that the problem is with the thyroid gland and that the pituitary gland is producing higher levels of the hormone because the thyroid is not responding.


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