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Thyroid Tests At Home – Which Are Best?

We take a look at the different types of thyroid tests on the market.

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Thyroid disorders can cause a raft of symptoms from unexplained weight gain or loss to feelings of fatigue, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and depression.

If you think you may have a thyroid disorder, there are a raft of products on the market to check your thyroid function from home. These include finger prick tests that provide results in 10 mins as well as at home thyroid tests that are sent back to a lab for analysis. But which is best?

Rapid At Home Thyroid Tests

There are a number of rapid at home thyroid tests on the market. They work by taking a few drops of blood and dropping them onto a rapid immunodiagnostic self-test kit, a bit like you do with the Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests.

The rapid thyroid test kits come with:

  • 1x Test device
  • 1x Plastic pipette
  • 1x Desiccant pouch
  • 1x Small bottle containing 1ml of diluent
  • 1-2x Sterile lancets to obtain a blood sample
  • 1x Instruction leaflet

The process works by pricking your finger with the lancet, collecting a few drops of blood using the micropipette, then dropping the contents of the micropipette onto the test cassette followed by around 6 drops of the test diluent.  You then wait 10 minutes for your result.

Pros Of Rapid At Home Thyroid Tests

  1. All the kit you need is delivered directly to your home.
  2. The test is quick and easy to carry out.
  3. They are generally cheaper than the lab analysed tests, costing anywhere from as little at £3.29 to over £20.00.
  4. You get immediate results.

Cons Of 10 Minute At Home Thyroid Tests

  1. Some tests state they give a positive result if TSH levels are above ≥ 5 mU/L when NICE guidelines point to anything above 10 - "Overt hypothyroidism is a condition where thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels are above the normal reference range (usually above 10 mU/L) and free thyroxine (FT4) is below the normal reference range."
  2. Some people can find it tricky to collect their sample.
  3. They only test Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) when free thyroxine also needs to be tested to confirm hypothyroidism.
  4. They don’t test for Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3) or thyroid antibodies all of which are key in diagnosing a thyroid disorder or autoimmune condition.
  5. They only detect an underactive thyroid and not an overactive thyroid. As some symptoms of an underactive thyroid often overlap with those of an overactive thyroid – such as fatigue and mood changes – a negative result for an underactive thyroid does not mean other thyroid disorders aren’t present.
  6. They only give a positive or negative result and not your actual levels of TSH.
  7. You are unable to monitor levels over time.
  8. You will not receive any advice from a medical professional on your results.

Lab Analysed At Home Thyroid Test

Lab analysed thyroid test kits are carried out at home and a blood sample is sent off to a lab to be analysed. These thyroid test kits come with everything you need to collect your blood sample and return it to the lab.

Our thyroid test kits contain:

  • 1x Test tube
  • 3-4x Sterile lancets to obtain a blood sample
  • Sterilising wipes
  • Plasters
  • Lab request form with labels
  • Plastic case to protect your sample in transit to the lab
  • Tracked-24 prepaid return envelope

The process works by pricking your finger with the lancet/s and filling up the test tube with blood to the required marker. You then simply label the test tube, package it up in the protective case and return it to the lab in the prepaid envelope. At Forth, we return results within 2 working days of receipt of the blood sample at our UKAS accredited labs.

Pros Of Lab Analysed At Home Thyroid Tests

  1. Blood samples analysed at a lab are considered to be the gold standard in blood analysis and are more accurate than rapid tests.
  2. All the kit you need is delivered directly to your home.
  3. The test is quick and easy to carry out.
  4. Depending on which test you purchase, they will either test for TSH, thyroid antibodies, thyroxine, and triiodothyronine or TSH, thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
  5. They test for underactive and overactive thyroid disorders as well as autoimmune conditions.

In addition to the above, Forth’s thyroid test service also provides:

  1. Your own personal and secure results dashboard.
  2. Your ranges for each thyroid biomarker tested are shown in relation to normal levels for your age and gender. [will add picture]
  3. Ability to track changes over time enabling you to monitor and manage a thyroid condition.
  4. Any out-of-range results will be reviewed and commented on by a team of medical professionals.
  5. Ability to download results to take to your GP.

Cons Of Lab Analysed At Home Thyroid Tests

  1. Some people can find it tricky to collect their sample.
  2. They are more expensive than rapid tests.
  3. Results aren’t instant.

Conclusion

While at home rapid thyroid blood tests are cheaper and give instant results, they only test TSH levels and therefore can only indicate a possible underactive thyroid. They do not provide results data telling you your levels of TSH, just whether you are positive or negative for raised TSH levels.

Whereas a lab analysed test measures additional thyroid biomarkers enabling you to check for a range of thyroid disorders including an overactive as well as an underactive thyroid and autoimmune conditions. But as a result, do cost more, however, you have more in-depth results allowing you to monitor a thyroid condition over time and give you the ability to share results with your GP.

At Forth we offer two at home thyroid tests:

  • Thyroid Check measures 3 thyroid biomarkers - TSH, thyroxine and triiodothyronine which tests for both an underactive and overactive thyroid.
  • Advanced Thyroid Check measures 5 thyroid biomarkers - Thyroglobulin Antibodies, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Thyroxine (T4, free direct), Triiodothyronine (T3, free). Testing for thyroid antibodies alongside TSH, T3 and T4 can pick up autoimmune conditions as well.

Read Next: 'How Often Should A Thyroid Test Be Carried Out?'>>

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Advanced Thyroid Check

Our at home thyroid blood test checks key thyroid hormones TSH, FT4 and FT3 together with thyroid antibodies to establish if your thyroid is functioning correctly.
Advanced Thyroid Check
£65
5 Biomarkers Included
Test thyroid function together with thyroid antibodies.
Medically Reviewed
Dr Nicky Keay
Chief Medical Officer, BA, MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, MRCP.​
This article has been medically reviewed by Forth's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicky Keay.
Nicky has extensive clinical and research experience in the fields of endocrinology and sport and exercise medicine. Nicky is a member of the Royal College of Physicians, Honorary Fellow in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Durham University and former Research Fellow at St. Thomas’ Hospital.

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