Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test: About This Test

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Picture of the thyroid gland

What is it?

A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is one of several blood tests used to check for thyroid gland problems. TSH causes the thyroid gland to make other important hormones that help control your body's metabolism.

Why is this test done?

This test is done to:

  • Find out if the thyroid gland is working as it should.
  • Find out if a problem with the thyroid is causing symptoms such as growth problems, tiredness, weight gain, or weight loss.
  • Keep track of how well thyroid treatment is working.
  • Test a newborn to find out if his or her thyroid gland is working as it should.

How do you prepare for the test?

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How is the test done?

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How long does the test take?

The test will take a few minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.