Screening is done to find a health problem early and treat it. Tests are often given to people who do not have signs but who may be at high risk for the health problem.
Groups have differing screening guidelines. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have screening tests.
Screening may be needed in groups that are at higher risk, such as:
- All newborn infants (required in many states)
- Pregnant women with or without goiter
- Prior thyroid problems
- Other family members who have had thyroid disease
An autoimmune disease, such as
type 1 diabetes
Mental health problems, such as those using
- High cholesterol
- A thyroid nodule
- Down syndrome
A physical exam may show signs of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a slow pulse, or slowed reflexes. Your health history may show symptoms of weight gain, tiredness, and constipation.
The best screening tool is a blood test that measures thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). A high level of TSH points to hypothyroidism. If this is high, then your doctor may order a free thyroxine (FT4).
Jonklaas J, Bianco AC, Bauer AJ, et al. Guidelines for the treatment of hypothyroidism. Thyroid. 2014 Dec;24(12):1670-751.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism. Updated August 2016. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Hypothyroidism in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115914/Hypothyroidism-in-adults. Updated July 20, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review BoardJames P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 5/20/2019