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How to Test Your Thyroid During a Pandemic

To test your thyroid when your doctor's office and laboratory are closed, you may want to try a mail-order service, Verisana.

COVID-19 has made it hard to visit a doctor. Getting blood drawn for a lab analysis is also difficult. How can you test your thyroid to find out what’s happening while you are stuck at home?

Some states are reopening restaurants, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors. Perhaps doctors’ offices and laboratories will also be opening in those regions. But other states are still closed tight. Millions of Americans may have a hard time getting a doctor’s appointment. Having blood drawn for a lab test can be equally challenging, as this reader relates. She wants to get her thyroid tested.

How Can You Test Your Thyroid When You Can’t Go to the Lab?

Q. I feel as if I am on a roller coaster with my thyroid gland. I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease a couple of years ago because of symptoms of hyperthyroidism. I was losing weight without trying. My hands were shaking and my heart was racing. I felt like I had consumed five cups of coffee all at once every day.

After blood tests, my endocrinologist put me on a drug called methimazole. It is supposed to counteract the excess amount of thyroid circulating in my system.

That worked pretty well, but now I feel as if my thyroid isn’t working as well as it should. I am gaining weight without eating any more than usual. I feel tired when I wake up even when I get a good night’s sleep. I have never been constipated in my life, but now that is a problem.

I suspect that I may now have hypothyroidism. The trouble is that with the social distancing thing, I cannot make an appointment with my doctor. I can’t even get my blood drawn at the clinic where he practices.

When I asked him if I should stop the methimazole, he said I should stay on it until I can get tested. That’s not very helpful. Is there any other way to tell what’s happening with my thyroid?

Test Your Thyroid at Home:

A. To evaluate thyroid function, endocrinologists generally use blood tests that measure TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) as well as T3 and free T4. For people with the autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease, they also order antibody tests.

Since you can’t go to your doctor’s office to get blood drawn, you might want to test your thyroid at home. Consider a test you can order online, perform at home and send out in the mail for results. The underwriter of our syndicated radio show is Verisana. This company provides a range of hormone tests, including one for thyroid function. This test uses a small sample of dried blood to measure free T3, free T4, TSH and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (aTPO).

Although your doctor’s office uses liquid serum drawn from a vein instead of dried blood, this technology has been evaluated and found comparable (Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, Dec. 2004; Journal of Women’s Health, Nov. 2013). 

This should certainly be adequate for you to get an idea of how your thyroid gland is working. Your doctor may be able to help you interpret the results. You may also want to consult our eGuide to Thyroid Hormones for guidance on what the results mean.

If you decide to order a Thyroid Test from Verisana.com, be sure to use the code PEOPLE for a 20 percent discount. 

Sometimes treating an overactive thyroid gland can go too far. The person may end up with too little thyroid hormone circulating in the body. You can read more about that here. That’s why you may want to test your thyroid now, instead of waiting for the end of the pandemic.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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