Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), commonly referred to as thyrotropin or thyrotrophin, regulates the functioning of other hormones in our body. It basically increases the production of T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), the two major hormones, which give rise to its name. The body's metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, muscle control, brain growth, and bone maintenance depend on T3 and T4. In a nutshell, the system as a whole cannot function correctly without TSH. In case you get affected by thyroid-related problems, you can use your health insurance plan to deal with the same.
Your thyroid, hypothalamus and pituitary gland work together in an intricate and beautiful system.
- First, a hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone is produced by the brain's hypothalamus, which regulates the pituitary gland.
- Next, the thyroid-stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the skull.
- TSH is immediately released into the bloodstream, where it eventually binds to receptors on thyroid gland cells.
- The thyroid gland is known to make the appropriate quantity of T3 and T4 and release them into the bloodstream.
TSH: When is it Too Little or Too Much?
You may feel symptoms when your hormone levels are out of control, though not everyone with a thyroid disease does, at least not in the initial stages.
Signs of hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid hormone) include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Unsteady hands
- Loss of weight
- Severe hair fall
- Enlarged eyes
- Troubles with sleep
Signs of hypothyroidism (deficit of thyroid hormone) include:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Weight gain
- Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation
- Hair fall
- Dry skin
- Slow heart rate
Your thyroid gland may not produce enough T3 or T4 if your body produces too much TSH. TSH floods your system when it is released into the bloodstream, and the thyroid gland fails to respond appropriately by producing enough T3 or T4. On the other hand, if your TSH levels are abnormally low, your thyroid gland may be overproducing thyroid hormone. As a result, your TSH hormone may then be suppressed. This intricate balancing act is required for the endocrine system to work properly, but even the slightest imbalance can cause health problems. This is especially true if you are pregnant because the thyroid-stimulating hormone is crucial for the healthy growth of the foetus.
What is considered to be a Normal TSH Level?
Between 0.5 to 5.0 milli international units per litre (mIU/L) is considered a normal reference range for TSH levels.However, it's crucial to remember that different labs and healthcare professionals may not agree on this range. In actuality, each patient's definition of "normal" may vary.
TSH levels below 0.5 mIU/L typically indicate an overactive thyroid gland, which can result in hyperthyroidism. Any value greater than 5.0 mIU/L may indicate hypothyroidism.
Your doctor will consider any signs or symptoms you may have, such as an enlarged thyroid gland, in addition to your TSH level, when making a thyroid illness diagnosis.
TSH Levels in Women
Women are more likely to develop high TSH levels after menstruation, childbirth, and menopause.
TSH Levels in Men
Both high and low TSH levels can affect fertility. Sperm quality is found to be lower in men with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
What is the Connection Between Thyroid Hormones and Aging?
The entire endocrine system (a complex network of glands and organs) is significantly affected by aging. The thyroid gland constantly changes as we age. One should remember that the signs of thyroid disease in the elderly are very similar to those of natural aging. Thus, given that some specific thyroid dysfunctions may result in enhanced life span, extending knowledge on changes in thyroid function that may be observed for different age groups appears essential and presents a challenge for thyroid researchers.
The body's natural TSH levels, however, change depending on the person's age.
|Age Group||Normal TSH Level Range (mU/L)|
|0 – 4 days||1.6 – 24.3|
|2 – 20 weeks||0.58 – 5.57|
|20 weeks – 18 years||0.55 – 5.31|
|18 – 30 years||0.5 – 4.1|
|31 – 50 years||0.5 – 4.1|
|51 – 70 years||0.5 – 4.5|
|71 – 90 years||0.4 – 5.2|
What is a Normal TSH Range Among Pregnant Women?
Some women experience a thyroid problem before becoming pregnant (also called a pre-existing condition). Others may notice initial thyroid issues during pregnancy or soon after giving birth.
|Pregnancy Stage||Normal TSH Level Range (mU/L)|
|First Trimester||0.6 - 3.4|
|Second Trimester||0.37 - 3.6|
|Third Trimester||0.38 - 4.0|
Tips on Maintaining Thyroid Health
If you want to reach and maintain healthy thyroid levels, living a healthy lifestyle is essential, regardless of whether you've had thyroid surgery or are taking medication to balance your hormones. You can support effective thyroid function by
- Keeping stress under wraps: Chronic stress causes the body to produce stress hormones like cortisol, which burden the body's systems.
- Focus on putting fresh, vibrant foods on your plate while eating for thyroid health. Consider eating more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, fish, legumes, and healthy fats.
- Regular exercise might help maintain hormone balance. Look to improve your health by walking, light yoga, hiking, swimming, or dancing.
- If you have hyperthyroidism, consult your doctor before exercising because your metabolism may be sped up and negatively impact your health.
There is no perfect TSH level that applies to everyone. This is because TSH levels fluctuate depending on several variables, such as your age, thyroid health, and possibly even how well you sleep at night or when you last ate.
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