Your thyroid is central to your body’s metabolism.
With a TSH test, you
can determine how much thyroid-stimulating hormone is circulating in your
blood, which provides insight into how your thyroid and metabolism are functioning.
When TSH is high, it indicates that the thyroid might be sluggish or hypoactive,
hence the body produces more “stimulating” hormone. If TSH is low, the
thyroid might be hyperactive.
Depending on the practitioner, this test is generally ordered based on
your symptoms. Hypothyroidism
results in symptoms of a sluggish metabolism, such as fatigue,
weight gain, dry skin, and cold intolerance, while
hyperthyroidism often leads to the opposite: weight loss, nervousness,
hand tremors, increased heart rate and insomnia.
Though the “normal” range for TSH can vary depending on labs, practitioners,
and individuals, in 2002 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists set
the normal limits as a TSH between 0.30 and 3.04. Generally speaking, women should
be under 2.00 for TSH — and free of symptoms. If a woman is above
2.00, or if she has symptoms of a thyroid disorder, she may want to explore more
detailed tests. The thyroid is linked to so many different organs and systems in
the body that imbalances in other places, such as the adrenals, may be at play.