TSH (Thyroid) - Cholesterol Test Descriptions

TSH (Thyroid)
A test for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is often used to detect a problem affecting the thyroid gland. TSH is produced when the hypothalamus releases a substance called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). Thyrotropin-releasing hormone then triggers the pituitary gland to release TSH.
TSH causes the thyroid gland to produce two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 help control your body's metabolism.

What is TSH?
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is a chemical substance produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the thyroid gland to synthesize and release its own hormones into the bloodstream. When not enough thyroid hormone is produced, a condition called hypothyroidism will result, often referred to as an underactive thyroid. When too much thyroid hormone is produced, a condition called hyperthyroidism will result, often referred to as an overactive thyroid.

Because there are so many different health problems associated with either an underactive or overactive thyroid gland, it is essential that basic thyroid function be tested regularly. The easiest way to do this is by testing for TSH.


What are some of the symptoms associated with an underactive or overactive thyroid?
An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is the most common form of thyroid disease and can produce a wide range of health problems. These include:
  • weight gain or an inability to lose weight
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • sensitivity to cold
  • dry skin
  • hair dryness or hair loss
  • forgetfulness
  • muscle cramps
  • excess water retention, constipation
  • heavy menstrual periods
  • elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • hoarse voice
An overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, is the less common form of thyroid disease, but can also produce a wide range of health problems. These include:
  • weight gain or an inability to lose weight
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • sensitivity to heat
  • tremor muscle weakness
  • nervousness
  • heart palpitations
  • frequent bowel movements
  • light menstrual periods
  • elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • hoarse voice


Are there risk factors I should be aware of?
Absolutely. While anyone can develop thyroid disease, there are certain things that make it more likely you will suffer from the disorder. These are called risk factors and are broken down into two categories: Personal History risk factors and Family History risk factors.
Personal History risk factors deal with your own past or current medical conditions and/or any drugs you might be taking. You are at greater risk if you have (or have had) any of the following
* thyroid dysfunction
* goiter
* surgery or radiotherapy affecting the thyroid gland
* diabetes mellitus
* vitiligo (non-pigmented skin patches)
* prematurely gray hair

Family History risk factors refer to having an immediate family member who suffers from any of the following conditions:
* thyroid disease
* pernicious anemia
* diabetes mellitus
* primary adrenal insufficiency

Thyroid (TSH) Facts
* Your thyroid gland produces hormones that influence essentially every organ, every cell and every tissue in your entire body!
* Elevated blood cholesterol levels, hair loss, weight gain or an inability to lose weight are a few of the symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid.
* After diet, the most common secondary cause of high cholesterol is hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
* An estimated 13 million Americans have thyroid disorders, and more than half of them remain undiagnosed.
* Women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to suffer from an overactive or underactive thyroid.
* The elderly are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism. By age 60, as many as 17 percent of women have an underactive thyroid.
* Five to 8 percent of women develop thyroid disorders after giving birth.
* More than half of American women over 40 experience 3 or more common symptoms of thyroid disorder.