Q. What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid or low thyroid is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. It can be commonly caused by low intake of iodine in diet or Hashimoto's thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease). Other less common causes include previous treatment with radioactive iodine, injury to the pituitary gland which secretes TSH, intake of certain medicines, previous thyroid surgery or improper functioning of thyroid gland since birth.
Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm generally from the inner side of the elbow area. The doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist will tie an elastic band around your arm which will help the blood vessels to swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You may feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected is then sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. Is there any special preparation required for the test?
No, there is no special preparation required for the test.
Q. What is Thyroid Peroxidase?
It is an enzyme which is produced by the thyroid gland and it plays an important role in the production of thyroid hormones. Sometimes, antibodies are formed against this enzyme for which Anti TPO antibody test is required.
Q. What is an autoimmune disorder?
An autoimmune disorder is a condition when your body’s immune system starts to attack parts of the body such as joints or skin mistaking it for foreign bodies. Autoantibodies start to release in the body which attacks the healthy cells.
Q. What are the risk factors for autoimmune disorders?
The risk factor includes family history, obesity, smoking, blood pressure medications, cholesterol lowering medications and antibiotics.
Q. What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
It is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This condition leads to hypothyroidism in which the thyroid gland starts to produce fewer thyroid hormones. A person having a family history of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or taking too much iodine or getting exposed to radiation fall under the risk of having Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, paleness or puffiness of the face, joint and muscle pain, constipation, joint and muscle pain, thinning or loss of hair, slowed heart rate, depression, irregular or heavy menstrual periods.
Q. What is subclinical hypothyroidism?
It is an early form of hypothyroidism in which sufficient thyroid hormones are not produced by the thyroid gland. It can be seen in persons who have a family history of autoimmune disorders of thyroid or injury to thyroid or use of radioactive iodine therapy or with the use of medications containing iodine or lithium. The symptoms include fatigue, depression, constipation, weight gain, goiter, hair loss, intolerance to cold.
Q. What additional tests can be performed in case the Anti TPO test results are not in the normal range?
If the Anti TPO test results are not in the normal range, your doctor may ask for the following tests:
Thyroid Hormone Binding Globulin (TBG)