Who should take the test?
The causes of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have not yet been clearly identified. It is not possible to reliably say what triggers the disease and who may be affected.
Still, researchers have observed some factors that make Hashimoto more likely. For example, there seems to be a genetic predisposition. People with a family history of thyroiditis are also more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Risk groups for Hashimoto also include:
- People with other autoimmune diseases (such as type 1 diabetes and celiac disease)
- People with liver diseases such as hepatitis C
- People with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- People over the age of 40, especially women
Those affected often include women going through menopause. It is therefore typical that the symptoms of Hashimoto and the associated hypothyroidism are often dismissed as menopausal symptoms.
How does the test work?
For the Hashimoto test, use a lancet to take a few drops of blood from your fingertip. Fill a small sample tube with the blood. Send the tube to our medical partner laboratory free of charge in a return envelope.
The specialist laboratory then examines your blood sample for the concentration of the three thyroid hormones TSH, fT4, and fT3 as well as for the antibodies TPO-AK and TAK.
What does the test result tell me?
For one thing, the result report tells you the concentration of thyroid hormones in your blood sample, each in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).
The thyroid hormones measured are:
- TSH, thyroid-stimulating hormone
- fT4, free thyroxine
- fT3, free triiodothyronine
You will also learn how the results can be interpreted in relation to one another – for example, what an increased TSH value means when fT4 and fT3 are low at the same time.
In order to investigate suspected Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the concentrations of the antibodies TPO-AK and TAK are also measured. Elevated levels of antibodies can indicate Hashimoto.
Important here: The test does not provide definitive diagnoses. If there are any abnormalities in your measured results, please contact a doctor to clarify possible Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other thyroid diseases, and to discuss therapy options.
What recommendations do I receive?
The result report gives you recommendations on when you should see a doctor after receiving certain measurement results to clarify a thyroid dysfunction or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
We also provide you with a number of nutritional tips and recommendations for action that you can use to contribute to the healthy functioning of your thyroid gland and thus reduce the risk of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Among other things, these focus on maintaining a sufficient supply of the trace element iodine and the minerals selenium and zinc.
What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (often just called "Hashimoto") is an autoimmune disease. This means that your own immune system turns against your body. In the case of Hashimoto, the body’s defenses attack cells in the thyroid gland, resulting in chronic thyroid inflammation.
In the long term, the inflammation leads to hypothyroidism. Underactive, in turn, means the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, which can cause problems throughout the body and lead to a wide range of symptoms.
The causes of Hashimoto are still largely unclear. A genetic predisposition can apparently contribute to its development, many affected also suffer from other autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease and type 1 diabetes. Too much of the trace element iodine can also make Hashimoto more likely.
What are TPO-AK and TAK?
Two laboratory values that are common in the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are the thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-AK) and the thyroglobulin-bound antibody (TAK).
The antibodies are tools of the immune system. TPO-AK attacks the enzyme thyroid peroxidase, TAK the protein thyroglobulin. Both the enzyme and protein are involved in the formation of thyroid hormones. If the antibodies interfere with their work, this can restrict the production of hormones and thus contribute to hypothyroidism in the long term.
If Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is present, the concentration of TPO-AK and TAK is often increased.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis usually causes no or only very unspecific symptoms, such as tiredness, sensitivity to cold, and lack of concentration.
If Hashimoto causes hypothyroidism, this can cause other symptoms throughout the body - but these are often not clear either. Typical complaints include:
- Weight gain
- Dry, rough skin
- Menstrual cramps
- Hair loss
- Hoarseness and a goiter
How is Hashimoto treated?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a chronic autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure. However, once it has been diagnosed by a doctor, there are proven therapy options that counteract hypothyroidism and its symptoms.
As a rule, doctors prescribe thyroid hormones (L-thyroxine) that you take in the form of tablets. This way you compensate for the limited function of the thyroid gland and your body can use the hormones for important tasks in the body.
In some cases, further medication or even surgery is necessary – for example, if a pronounced goiter has already formed, i.e. the thyroid gland is greatly enlarged.
How do thyroid hormones work?
In addition to antibodies relevant to Hashimoto, the test examines the three thyroid hormones TSH, fT4, and fT3.
The central task of the thyroid gland is to produce the hormone thyroxine (T4), and from this in turn the triiodothyronine (T3). T3 is the biologically active form of the hormone that works throughout the body. The hormone thyrotropin (TSH) is a messenger substance that is produced in the pituitary gland and triggers the production of T4 and T3 in the thyroid gland.
The body needs thyroid hormones for growth and development of the brain and for numerous metabolic processes. The important tasks of thyroid hormones include:
- Producing heat
- Controlling blood sugar and fat metabolism
- Increasing energy turnover and breakdown of fat and carbohydrates
- Regulating heart rate
What does the TSH value mean?
If the TSH value is elevated, the pituitary gland (hypophysis) may be releasing more TSH because the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones – a first indication of an underactive thyroid gland.
Low TSH levels can also indicate an underactive thyroid. Because sometimes the pituitary gland does not work properly and there is not enough TSH in the thyroid gland. As a result, the thyroid produces too few hormones.
In medical practices, measuring the TSH value is the gold standard for diagnosing the thyroid gland. In order to be able to better assess problems with the thyroid gland, however, it makes sense to also measure the thyroid hormones fT4 and fT3.
What do fT4 and fT3 mean?
Hormones are usually found both bound to proteins and in free form. To check the function of the thyroid gland, it is more informative to measure the free thyroxine (fT4) and the free triiodothyronine (fT3).
The hormones fT4 and fT3 are very closely related – fT3 is essentially created from fT4. That’s why their readings tend to go in the same direction:
- If fT4 is increased, fT3 is also increased. This can indicate an overactive thyroid.
- If fT4 is too low, fT3 is also too low. This can indicate an underactive thyroid.
How do I properly store the test kit at home?
Please make sure not to store the kit in extreme heat or cold, and do not expose it to direct sunlight.
On the back of the packaging of your cerascreen test kit there is a small symbol representing a thermometer. It indicates at what temperatures the kit should be stored. For the cerascreen blood tests, this is usually in the range of 2 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Who is the test not suitable for?
The Hashimoto test is not or only partially suitable for certain groups of people:
- People with infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV must not take the Hashimoto test.
- People with hemophilia should not take the blood test.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should only perform the Hashimoto test under medical supervision. The reference values and recommendations do not apply to them either, so you should obtain recommendations on the test result from your doctor or therapist.
- The Hashimoto test is not suitable for children under the age of 18.
The test is not designed to screen for serious illnesses. For example, if you are suffering from severe depression or extreme pain, consult a doctor.