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Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

Measurement of Pituitary Production of TSH:
Normally, low levels (less than 5 units) of TSH are sufficient to keep the normal thyroid gland functioning properly. When the thyroid gland becomes inefficient such as in early hypothyroidism, the TSH becomes elevated even though the T4 /FT4 and T3/FT4 may still be within the "normal" range.
This rise in TSH represents the pituitary gland's response to a drop in circulating thyroid hormone; it is usually the first indication of thyroid gland failure. Since TSH is normally low when the thyroid gland is functioning properly, the failure of TSH to rise when circulating thyroid hormones are low is an indication of impaired pituitary function. The new "sensitive" TSH test will show very low levels of TSH when the thyroid is overactive (as a normal response of the pituitary to try to decrease thyroid stimulation). Interpretations of the TSH level depends upon the level of thyroid hormone; therefore, the TSH is usually used in combination with other thyroid tests such as the T4/FT4 and T3/FT3.

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