Normal TSH Levels

Normal TSH levels are achieved when a person’s thyroid gland is functioning properly. The normal range of TSH level a person should have considerably differs between laboratories and geographical locations. It is very important to keep the TSH levels within the normal range because abnormal levels alert of health problems related to the thyroid gland.

Normal TSH levels can be determined through the TSH test. The test result will reveal the condition of a person’s thyroid gland as well as the pituitary gland. It will also help the doctor rule out thyroid-related problems and come up with a treatment plan that meets the specific needs of the patient.

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What is TSH?

TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is a hormone excreted by the pituitary gland whose function is to stimulate the production of the thyroid hormone which controls the body temperature and overall metabolic processes in the body. It is also capable of detecting any imbalances and malfunctioning of the thyroid gland when normal TSH levels are not attained. Through TSH, the pituitary gland instructs the thyroid gland to produce T3 hormone (triiodothyronine) and T4 hormone (thyroxine).

Why is it important to have TSH levels within the normal range?

The TSH mirrors the overall health of a person’s thyroid gland, and keeping it within the normal range is important for optimum health. This is because the thyroid gland controls the body’s energy consumption, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and overall metabolic process. An abnormal TSH level signifies thyroid problems which require prompt medical attention. This is the reason why the TSH test must be included during annual physical examinations, especially among those who already have thyroid problems or with family history of thyroid ailments.

How much should TSH levels be?

There is a slight variation in normal TSH levels relative to the age and period in a person’s physical growth. Normally, babies and kids have higher levels of TSH than adolescents and adults. It also differs among people who receive thyroid disorder treatment as well as the assay used by laboratories. The normal TSH levels used by many labs are these:

  • Adults and adolescents – 0.4 mIU/L – 4.0 mIU/L
  • Premature babies – 0.8 µU/mL – 6.9 µU/mL
  • Newborn babies – 1.3 µU/mL – 16 µU/mL
  • Babies – 0.9 µU/mL – 7.7 µU/mL
  • Kids before puberty stage – 0.6 µU/mL – 5.5 µU/mL
  • Children after puberty stage – 0.5 µU/mL – 4.8 µU/mL
  • People who receive thyroid treatment – 0.5 mIU/L – 3.0 mIU/L

Laboratories may have slightly different standards which is why it is best to consult the doctor for the proper interpretation of TSH test results.

When do TSH levels become abnormal?

An abnormal TSH level is a strong indication of an unhealthy thyroid or pituitary gland, and these may either be higher or lower than the normal range. When the thyroid stops producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones, the pituitary gland produces more TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone. This indicates that the thyroid is underactive. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid gland is sensed by the pituitary gland which causes it to slow down its production of TSH or completely shut it down.

High TSH level occurs due to:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cretinism
  • Thyroid hormone resistant
  • TSH-dependent hyperthyroidism
  • Mice exposure

Low TSH level happens because of:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • TSH deficiency
  • Certain medications such as dopamine agonists, bexarotene, somatostatin analogues and glucocorticoids

What will happen to individuals with abnormal TSH levels?

People with abnormal TSH levels will experience a number of symptoms, and these vary depending on the abnormality of TSH levels. Those with elevated TSH levels will experience symptoms related to hyperthyroidism during its early stage such as:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Mild depression
  • Hair loss
  • Memory loss
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Rough skin and hair
  • Reduce sex drive
  • Abnormal menstrual period

On the other hand, people with low TSH levels will experience the following symptoms:

  • Heat sensitivity
  • Tremors
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Abrupt weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sleep-related problems
  • Increased heart rate

How to keep the TSH level back to its normal range?

An abnormal TSH level is a red flag for thyroid problems and keeping it to its normal range involves treating the underlying cause. Treatment for abnormal TSH levels help in alleviating the symptoms by regulating the level of thyroid hormones. People with abnormal TSH levels may be prescribed with oral medications to manage the hormonal imbalance. Radioactive iodine therapy may also be used. In some cases, surgical intervention called thyroidectomy might be the best option to achieve normal TSH levels.

Normal TSH levels indicate that the person’s thyroid gland is doing its job. The level becomes abnormal due to a variety of reasons and serves as a warning for thyroid-related problems. There are a number of treatment options for abnormal TSH levels and patients must be diagnosed and assessed properly to create the best treatment plan that will address the specific needs of the patient.

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