medical history and
physical exam are the first steps in diagnosing
mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism. If the results lead
your doctor to suspect you have hypothyroidism or subclinical hypothyroidism,
you will have tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Blood tests are
always used to confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism or mild hypothyroidism.
The tests used most often are:
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Because of the possibility of
intellectual disability in infants with hypothyroidism,
every state in the United States tests newborns for hypothyroidism. If your
baby was not born in a hospital, or if you believe your baby may not have been
tested, talk to your doctor. Screening tests for hypothyroidism
are not always accurate. Even if test results show no problem, watch your child for
symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as poor appetite, not gaining weight, and dry skin.
Some doctors now recommend routine testing for people at
risk for hypothyroidism, including:
People age 35 and older. The American Thyroid
Association guidelines recommend that screening begin at age 35 and continue
every 5 years thereafter.3
People with one
or more close relatives who have or had hypothyroidism.
Pregnant women. In
pregnant women known to have hypothyroidism, tests should be done at regular
intervals to determine whether the dosage of thyroid hormone medicine is
Women who are having symptoms of hypothyroidism after
pregnancy (postpartum hypothyroidism), such as
depression, memory and concentration problems, or
thyroid enlargement (goiter). Women
who have had hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy should be retested if
they become pregnant again.
Not all experts agree on whether to recommend widespread
screening for hypothyroidism. Some groups say there is not enough evidence of
benefit to recommend screening for everyone. But people who are at high
risk—women older than 60 and anyone with a family history of thyroid disease or
who has other
autoimmune diseases—may want to be screened.4