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Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

What is it?

Thyroid (thi-roid) stimulating hormone (TSH) is found in the blood. A hormone is a substance made by one organ in your body. The hormone travels in the blood to another organ to help the other organ work. The thyroid gland is located in the front part of your neck. TSH can be measured in your blood by a special laboratory test to see how your thyroid gland is working.

Why do I need it?

Your good health depends on a thyroid gland that is working OK. The thyroid hormones have an effect on most cells in your body. TSH may be the best single test to see if your thyroid gland is working OK. Sometimes it may be necessary to do other thyroid tests at the same time as the TSH. If you are taking thyroid medicines, this test may be needed to see how the medicines are working. Your caregiver may want you to have this test if you have symptoms of hyperthyroidism (hi-per-thi-roid-is-um) or hypothyroidism (hi-po-thi-roid-is-um). Hyperthyroidism means you have too much thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism means you do not have enough thyroid hormone

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Some of the hyperthyroidism symptoms may include:

  • Sleeplessness.
  • Weight loss.
  • Nervousness, tremors.
  • Bulging eyes.
  • Swelling in the front of your neck.
  • Feeling hot all the time, sweating.
  • Irregular heart beats.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Some of the hypothyroidism symptoms may include:

  • Weight gain.
  • Being tired or sleepy.
  • Not able to think clearly.
  • Dry skin and hair.
  • Loss of hair over your whole body, not just your head.
  • Feeling cold all the time.

How do I get ready for the test?

Your caregiver will tell you when to have your blood test done. The blood test may be done before or after eating. Some medicines may interfere with this test. Ask your caregiver if you should wait to take your medicines until after your blood is taken.

How is the specimen collected?

A caregiver will put a wide rubber strap around your arm and tighten it. Your skin will be cleaned with alcohol. A small needle attached to a special test tube will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. The tube has suction to pull the blood into it. When the tube is full, the rubber strap, needle and tube are removed. Your caregiver will press a piece of cotton where the needle was removed. You may be asked to hold the cotton on the site for a few minutes to help stop the bleeding. Tape may then be put over the cotton on your arm.

What do I do after the test?

You may remove the tape and cotton in about 20 to 30 minutes. Call your caregiver to get the results of your test. Your caregiver will explain what your test results mean for you. Follow the instructions of your caregiver.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.