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Health Information For Parents
The thyroid is a small gland below the skin and muscles at the front of the neck, at the spot where a bow tie would rest. It makes two types of thyroid hormones: T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). It helps the body do many things, such as get energy from food, grow, and go through sexual development.
The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the bottom of the brain that makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH triggers the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland and the thyroid gland send messages back and forth to each other about how much hormone to make to keep the levels normal.
Some diseases of the thyroid or pituitary gland cause the thyroid to make too much or not enough thyroid hormone:
Doctors use blood tests to check for thyroid or pituitary problems. In kids already diagnosed with thyroid or pituitary problems, the tests are used to guide treatment.
Commonly ordered thyroid blood tests include:
condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. To diagnose it, doctors check for high levels of antibodies that are a sign of the immune system’s attack on proteins in the thyroid gland. Usually, two types of thyroid antibodies are measured: thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO).
In some cases, abnormal thyroid test results can be due to a medicine, an ongoing medical condition, or pregnancy. In these cases, there may be nothing wrong with the thyroid or pituitary glands themselves.
The normal ranges of thyroid function test results vary by age. Doctors think about this carefully when they interpret them.
If you have any questions about a thyroid blood test, speak with your doctor. You can also talk to the technician who’s doing the blood draw before the procedure.
The thyroid gland makes the hormones that help control metabolism and growth. A thyroid that isn’t working properly can cause thyroid disease.
Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid gland sends too much thyroid hormone into the blood. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease.
An underactive thyroid makes too little thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which causes most cases of hypothyroidism in kids and teens, is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid.
Some babies are born with a thyroid gland that didn’t develop correctly or doesn’t work as it should. This is called congenital hypothyroidism.
An enlarged thyroid gland is a lump that can be felt under the skin at the front of the neck. When it’s big enough to see easily, it’s called a goiter. A thyroid nodule is a lump or enlarged area in the thyroid gland.
The thyroid peroxidase antibodies test is primarily used to help diagnose and monitor autoimmune conditions involving the thyroid gland, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease.
Doctors may order TSH blood tests to diagnose and monitor treatment of a thyroid disorder or evaluate pituitary gland functioning.
Doctors may order the T3 resin uptake when a child’s symptoms or previous blood tests seem to suggest thyroid dysfunction.
The T3 total test is part of an evaluation of thyroid function. It’s particularly useful in diagnosing hyperthyroidism, which can cause symptoms such as a fast heart rate, weight loss, trembling and sweating.
Doctors may order the T4 blood test if symptoms suggest any kind of thyroid disorder.
The thyroglobulin antibodies test is used to help diagnose autoimmune conditions involving the thyroid gland, or when thyroid disorders are suspected.
A neck CAT scan can detect signs of disease in the throat and surrounding areas. Doctors may order one to detect abscesses, birth defects, cysts, or tumors.
Do you know just how important the thyroid is? It helps you grow and affects your energy level.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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