High TSH Levels

TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test is generally done to diagnose the disorders of thyroid gland. High level of TSH in the blood indicates thyroid hormone deficiency in the body. The secretion of TSH basically depends on the thyroid hormone levels in the system. Moreover, thyroid hormone secretion is normally regulated by a negative feedback mechanism. Hence, low level of thyroid hormones in the body will be compensated by pituitary gland by stimulating the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormones, which refers to a condition called as hypothyroidism. Apart from raising the TSH levels, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) presents with various other signs and symptoms such as significant weight gain, reduced basal metabolism, lethargy, suppressed appetite, weakness, fatigue, increased somnolence, hypertension, increased cold susceptibility, dry skin, and brittle hair, to include a few. This condition can be commonly triggered by the deficiency of dietary iodine. Here is a detailed outline about high TSH level and its clinical implication:

High TSH Level Indication

Elevated levels of TSH can be suggestive of different conditions that can result in serious consequences if left untreated. In general, the thyroid gland is stimulated by TSH to produce hormones by itself. Moreover, TSH levels in the blood indicate the overall function of thyroid gland. High TSH levels in the blood help to diagnose an under active thyroid gland.

The doctor can advice TSH blood tests if you tend to develop thyroid associated symptoms like sudden fatigue, mild depression, weakness or sudden weight gain. In general, thyroid stimulating hormone or(TSH)normally stimulates the formation of triidothyronine (T3)and thyroxine (T4) hormones. High TSH levels can result in a medical condition called as hypothyroidism, which is associated with very little thyroid hormone production by the thyroid gland. Hence, TSH test is performed to detect an underactive thyroid or overactive thyroid, in general. To be more specific, high TSH levels signify an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. It is imperative to under go treatment in case of high TSH levels in the blood as hypothyroidism can result in a host of various health complications such as heart attack, stroke, and osteoporosis, to name a few.

High TSH levels can be a warning signal of the following conditions:

  • Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid – common cause for primary hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Rarely, excess of TSH can be produced by a pituitary gland tumor.
  • Failure to control an underactive thyroid gland with enough thyroid medications

Causes of high TSH levels

The TSH levels can increase when the thyroid gland can’t produce sufficient levels of T and T4 hormones.When the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones, the pituitary gland, which is the main TSH (orthyrotropin)source, begins to secrete high amounts of TSH in an effort to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce enough hormones. Therefore, high TSH level is the response of pituitary gland to compensate the action of a malfunctioning thyroid gland. In some cases, it can also occur due to the pathology of pituitary gland that is not linked to thyroid. Hence, doctors examine both the pituitary and thyroid glands to determine the main cause of high TSH.

Excessively high TSH levels

The recommended normal value of TSH ranges from between 0.4 and 4mlU/L.  Hence, TSH level above 4 indicates hypothyroidism; while a TSH level of 2 or above that indicates sub clinical hypothyroidism. It can commonly present with series of clinical hypothyroidism associated symptoms during this period.Sub clinical hypothyroidism can later result in hypothyroidism and some cases with high TSH levels can also have normal thyroid hormone levels in the blood.

Incidence of high TSH

Certain populations are more likely to develop high TSH levels. Pregnant women with a past history of thyroid problems or dietary iodine deficiency tend to develop TSH problems. High TSH levels during pregnancy can increase health complications of an unborn baby and normal health issues in the mother. Mothers, who are treated for high TSH levels can rarely give birth to children who tend to develop temporary hypothyroidism as a result of the mother’s treatment needs.

Developing children who have passed the newborn phase often need special care in case of high TSH levels above the range 5 mlU/L. Untreated children tend to develop growth retardation, weakness, bowel movement problems, premature sexual development, and dry or yellow skin appearance. The targeted treatment for children is similar to that of adults to offset high TSH levels.

Level of high TSH

Early hypothyroidism is indicated by a blood report with TSH levels above 2mIU/L.

Hypothyroidism is confirmed when the TSH levels are above 5mIU/L.

Significance of high TSH

High TSH levels are suggestive of hypothyroidism or a drop in thyroid activity due to the loss of regulatory mechanism between hormones secreted by the pituitary and thyroid glands

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