At-Home Thyroid Testing
- Also Known As:
- At-Home Thyroid Panel
- At-Home Thyroid Antibody Test
- At-Home Thyroid Health Screening Test
- At-Home Complete Thyroid Blood Test
- At-Home Thyroid Screening Test
Test Quick Guide
The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of the neck. This gland produces thyroid hormones that impact nearly every cell in the body. The thyroid controls metabolism, affects the rate at which a person burns calories, and even influences heart rate.
At-home thyroid tests use a blood sample to measure hormones related to the thyroid and, in some cases, determine the amount of thyroid antibodies in the blood. Although these tests can offer information about the thyroid, at-home tests are not a substitute for testing conducted by a physician, and the results of at-home tests must be interpreted with caution.
About the Test
Purpose of the test
The purpose of thyroid testing is to gather information about thyroid function or measure the level of thyroid antibodies in the blood. Thyroid testing is typically ordered by a doctor and conducted in a medical setting or laboratory. While several options are available for at-home thyroid testing, it is important to consult with a doctor about the purpose of thyroid testing and the appropriateness of at-home thyroid tests for your specific situation.
Purpose of at-home thyroid tests
The purpose of at-home thyroid testing is to gain information that may help you understand the health and function of your thyroid. At-home thyroid testing may be a quick and easy first step to learn about the health of your thyroid gland and to guide conversations with your health care team.
Purpose of physician-ordered thyroid tests
Physician-ordered thyroid testing is used to screen for, diagnose, and monitor conditions affecting the thyroid. Several blood tests can be used to determine if the thyroid is healthy and functioning normally. Thyroid tests provide information about whether the thyroid is producing the appropriate amount of thyroid hormones and, in some cases, the level of thyroid antibodies found in the blood.
Screening tests describe testing for a disease in a patient without symptoms. While some adults may be screened for thyroid disorders, not all experts agree that this type of screening is beneficial.
Diagnostic thyroid testing is used to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms. Diagnostic thyroid testing can provide information about thyroid function and help to identify thyroid disorders.
Thyroid testing can also be used to monitor patients after a diagnosis of a thyroid disorder. Testing in this manner can help a doctor understand whether a patient’s prescribed treatment is working.
What does the test measure?
At-home thyroid tests may measure thyroid hormones and/or thyroid antibodies. Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid. Thyroid antibodies harm thyroid tissue or cause the thyroid to produce too much or too little thyroid hormones. At-home thyroid tests may measure one or more of these thyroid levels.
Thyroid hormones serve many functions, including to help the body use energy, regulate temperature, and maintain the health of organs such as the brain, heart, and muscles. Hormones that may be included in at-home thyroid tests include:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): TSH is a pituitary gland hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland. Levels of TSH in the blood are often the best and first indicator of thyroid function. Abnormal TSH levels may suggest an issue with thyroid function and are often followed-up with additional tests such as free T4.
- Free Thyroxine (T4): T4 is the main type of thyroid hormone in the blood. Free T4 describes T4 that is not bound to a protein and is available to be used by cells in the body. When measured along with TSH, free T4 more accurately reflects thyroid function.
- Free Triiodothyronine (T3): Free T3 is another hormone produced by the thyroid. Free T3 is not bound to another protein and can be used by the body. Measuring free T3 may not produce reliable results and therefore is not recommended by some physicians. Tests that measure total T3 are a more reliable way to diagnose hyperthyroidism, but they are not available in at-home thyroid test kits.
- Reverse T3 (rT3): rT3 resembles T3, but is biologically inactive, meaning that it doesn’t directly affect the body. Although it is measured by some alternative health practitioners, it has very limited utility and is unlikely to be a helpful test in most cases.
Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to foreign substances like viruses and bacteria. Sometimes antibodies mistakenly attack healthy cells in the body, which is called an autoimmune response. Autoimmune disorders of the thyroid develop when thyroid antibodies attack healthy thyroid cells. At-home thyroid tests may look for thyroid antibodies, including:
- Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb): Detection of TPOab may be a sign of Hashimoto thyroiditis or Graves’ disease. These are types of autoimmune disorders that can cause abnormal thyroid function.
- Antithyroglobulin antibody test (TgAb): Patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis or Graves’ disease may also have autoantibodies against thyroglobulin, but this test is not typically necessary to diagnose autoimmune disorders of the thyroid. This test may be ordered by a doctor when monitoring patients with a certain type of thyroid cancer.
When should I get an at-home thyroid test?
Thyroid testing is tailored to a person’s specific health needs, and there are no universal guidelines for the appropriate use of at-home thyroid testing. Many people choose at-home thyroid tests because they are curious about their own health. However, diagnosing and monitoring thyroid disorders require the interpretation and advice of a physician.
Benefits and Downsides of At-Home Thyroid Testing
Every medical test is associated with risks and benefits. Learning about the pros and cons of at-home thyroid testing may help you make an informed decision if you’re considering ordering a test kit.
The potential benefits of at-home thyroid testing include:
- Convenience: At-home thyroid test kits allow you to conduct testing from your home without having to make an appointment at your doctor’s office or a laboratory.
- Easy sample collection: Rather than a typical blood draw, at-home thyroid tests only require a small sample by pricking a fingertip with the end of a small needle.
- Cost: Although the cost of an at-home thyroid test is not typically covered by insurance, the price of an at-home thyroid test may be lower than the cost of a doctor’s visit and any resulting medical and insurance costs.
- Curiosity satisfaction: At-home thyroid testing may be a tool for patients who are curious about their thyroid hormones and want to check their levels between doctor’s visits.
The potential risks of at-home thyroid testing include:
- Testing errors: When collecting and preparing your own blood sample for testing, contamination or improper handling of the testing supplies can result in invalid or inaccurate test results.
- Test interpretation: A physician assessment of a person’s thyroid function often involves multiple tests and takes into account a person’s family history, symptoms, and the results of a medical exam. Using an at-home thyroid test without the guidance of a physician risks inaccurate interpretation of test results.
- Overdiagnosis: It is common for adults to have abnormal thyroid levels without signs or symptoms. This is known as subclinical thyroid dysfunction. Screening patients without symptoms of thyroid issues increases the risk of overdiagnosis, which means detecting a medical issue that would never have caused any health problems. Overdiagnosis can cause distress in patients and may even lead to side effects associated with unnecessary doctor visits and treatment.
- Additional testing may be required: Patients who receive abnormal test results on an at-home thyroid test may need to have the test repeated through a doctor’s office or laboratory. Additional tests may also be needed that are only available through a doctor’s orders.
Types of At-Home Tests
There are several brands of at-home thyroid tests, each measuring one or more thyroid hormones and/or antibodies. Here are some available options for at-home thyroid testing:
Everlywell – Thyroid Test
Tests for: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO antibodies
Results timeline: Within a few days
Our pick for best overall at-home thyroid test is made by Everlywell. We chose Everlywell’s product due to its simple test panel design, helpful videos that include step-by-step instructions, and support along the way if you need it.
After registering your kit on Everlywell’s website, start by washing your hands and using a tiny needle, called a lancet, to prick your fingertip. Then squeeze a few drops of blood onto the test strip, slip it in a biohazard bag, afix the prepaid shipping label, and put your sample in the mail.
Once Everlywell’s CLIA-certified lab receives your kit, the sample is tested for thyroid peroxidase antibodies and three types of thyroid hormones. By measuring your levels of these four substances, you can learn about potential thyroid issues.
Everlywell provides a personalized test report on its secure online platform once your results are ready. The report includes detailed information about what high or low levels of TSH, free T3, free T4, or TPO mean about the health of your thyroid.
The thyroid gland serves many important functions in the body. At-home blood tests are a helpful starting point for understanding the health of your thyroid, but they cannot diagnose thyroid disorders. In the case of abnormal test results, it’s important to talk with your doctor for more information and guidance on next steps.
LetsGetChecked – Thyroid Antibody Test
Price: $119 (Get 25% off with your exclusive Testing.com discount code. Use code TESTING25 at checkout.)
Tests for: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO antibodies, Tg antibodies
Results timeline: Within 2 to 5 days
Our pick for clearest instructions, LetsGetChecked, has two options for at-home thyroid tests: the Thyroid Test and the Thyroid Antibody Test. The Thyroid Test measures TSH, T3, and T4, while the Thyroid Antibody Test measures those three hormones plus TPO and Tg antibodies.
When your test kit arrives, first register it online using the unique alphanumeric barcode provided inside the kit. For fast and accurate results, collect your sample before 9 a.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and return it in the mail to their CLIA-certified lab on the same day.
Begin by placing a small, single-use electronic device called a phlebotic assistant on a finger. Allow it to vibrate for two minutes to improve blood flow. Then, using a lancet, puncture your fingertip just enough to collect a few drops of blood in the tube provided.
If any questions arise while taking this test, the nursing team at LetsGetChecked is available to offer guidance and support. If test results are abnormal, you will receive a call from a doctor to discuss your test results and next steps.
myLAB Box – At Home Thyroid Health Screening Test
Tests for: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO antibodies
Results timeline: Within 2 to 5 days
The At Home Thyroid Health Screening Test from myLAB Box is our pick for quickest results. With free two-day shipping, results are available within 2 to 5 days after your sample is received by the lab.
Once your kit arrives, read all instructions before carefully collecting a small sample of blood and returning it in myLAB Box’s discreet prepaid envelope to their labs, which have been certified by the College of American Pathologist and the CLIA. If your test results are abnormal, myLAB Box offers a free telemedicine consultation with a physician.
You can pay for the At Home Thyroid Health Screening Test with a flexible spending or health savings account.
Paloma – Complete Thyroid Blood Test Kit
Tests for: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO antibodies (optional vitamin D and reverse T3)
Results timeline: Within a week
Paloma’s Complete Thyroid Blood Test Kit makes monitoring your thyroid levels easy, and it’s our pick for the most personalized at-home thyroid test. The standard kit measures TSH, T3, T4, and TPO antibodies and costs $99. Additional testing for a reverse T3 is $64 and vitamin D testing is an additional $53. The company accepts both FSA and HSA cards.
After completing a quick online registration, Paloma mails your test kit within one business day. Once the kit arrives at your home, use one of the provided lancets to prick your finger and squeeze a few drops of blood onto a test card.
Results are typically available within a week of being received by one of Paloma’s partner labs, which have been certified by CLIA. The company works with a network of physicians to review your test results before making the information available on a secure online platform.
Paloma also offers telemedicine appointments with thyroid specialists and nutritionists in certain states.
Best for TSH Testing
imaware – Thyroid Screening Test
Tests for: TSH
Results timeline: Within 7 business days
The Thyroid Screening Test from imaware measures only TSH levels. It provides a simple way of determining if you may have an overactive or underactive thyroid. If your TSH levels are abnormal, an endocrinologist can provide additional testing to learn more about your thyroid function.
A team of physicians reviews and approves all online orders. Once the test kit arrives, register it online and read all provided instructions to ensure a smooth collection process.
This test is marketed as “female-only.” It requires that testing be performed in the morning, within three hours of waking up. To conduct the test, use the provided lancets to collect a small sample of blood in the medical-grade collection device. Then package and ship your sample using a prepaid label on the same day it was collected.
Your results will be reviewed within seven business days by one of imaware’s physicians and posted online in a secure portal. Results are easy to understand and come with actionable information, including how likely you are to have a thyroid condition, topics to discuss with your doctor, and how you can track your thyroid health over time.
Interpreting At-Home Test Results
Results from an at-home thyroid test are generally available within a few days after the laboratory receives your blood sample. The results included on your test report depend on which thyroid hormones or antibodies were included in the test. Usually, test reports include whether each measurement is above or below normal limits, also called a reference range.
Generally, high blood levels of TSH may indicate that the thyroid gland is underactive, called hypothyroidism. Low blood levels of TSH suggest that the thyroid gland is overactive, called hyperthyroidism. In rare cases, the level of TSH in the blood does not accurately reflect thyroid gland function due to issues with the pituitary gland.
High levels of T3 or T4 may mean that a patient has hyperthyroidism, while low levels of T3 or T4 in the blood can suggest hypothyroidism.
Results for thyroid antibody testing describe the amount of thyroid antibody found in the blood. A negative result may indicate that a patient’s thyroid symptoms are not related to an autoimmune disease. A positive test result may suggest the presence of an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid.
Abnormal test results on at-home thyroid tests likely need to be retested by a doctor for confirmation. Additionally, at-home tests may not use the same methods of testing the thyroid that are used in tests prescribed by a doctor, and reference ranges for results may vary slightly based on the different laboratories used for the analysis.
Patients should discuss their at-home test results with a doctor and be wary of comparing the results of an at-home thyroid test with results from previous thyroid tests ordered by a physician.
Are test results accurate?
Thyroid tests are an important tool in identifying thyroid disorders, but, like any medical test, they are not perfect. The measurements of thyroid hormone and thyroid antibodies are only one piece of information necessary to identify thyroid disorders, so it is possible to have abnormal test results when you do not have a thyroid disorder or do not require medical treatment.
Although research suggests that some methods of at-home thyroid testing may provide an accurate and inexpensive option for testing levels of TSH in the blood, information about the accuracy of many at-home thyroid tests is limited.
Do I need follow-up tests?
A doctor may recommend retesting to confirm the results of an at-home thyroid test. If a doctor confirms an abnormal test result, additional tests may be ordered to diagnose the cause of a patient’s symptoms.
If only one thyroid hormone was measured during an at-home test, a patient’s doctor may recommend testing other thyroid hormones as well. In patients who test positive for thyroid antibodies, further testing is needed to confirm the presence of an autoimmune disorder.
Additional testing may be ordered to determine the cause of thyroid disease, including ultrasound, thyroid scan, or a radioactive iodine uptake test.
Questions for your doctor after at-home testing
After taking an at-home thyroid test, it’s important to talk with a doctor about the test results. Some questions that may be helpful include:
- Does this at-home test provide any useful medical information about my thyroid?
- How reliable are my test results?
- Do I need any follow-up testing based on my at-home test result?
A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. TSH test. Updated January 26, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003684.htm
A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Thyroid function tests. Updated July 2, 2021 Accessed August 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003444.htm
American Thyroid Association. Thyroid function tests. Date unknown. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-function-tests/
American Thyroid Association. Point-of-care thyroid diagnostics and
thyroid disease management. Published November 2018. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.thyroid.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/lab-services/ata-poc-thyroid-management.pdf
ARUP Consult. Initial evaluation of thyroid function. Updated February 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://arupconsult.com/content/initial-evaluation-thyroid-function
Columbia Surgery. At-home thyroid testing kits: What we know…and what we don’t: An interview with Dr. Hyesoo Lowe. Columbia Surgery website. Date unknown. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://columbiasurgery.org/news/home-thyroid-testing-kits-what-we-knowand-what-we-dont
Davies TF. Pathogenesis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic autoimmune thyroiditis). In: Ross DS, ed. UpToDate. Updated January 3, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/laboratory-assessment-of-thyroid-function
Hershman JM. Overview of thyroid function. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. Updated September 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/thyroid-disorders/overview-of-thyroid-function
Hershman JM. Overview of the thyroid gland. Merck Manual Consumer Edition. Updated October 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/thyroid-gland-disorders/overview-of-the-thyroid-gland
Hofman LF, Foley TP Jr, Henry JJ, Naylor EW. Assays for thyroid-stimulating hormone using dried blood spotted filter paper specimens to screen for hypothyroidism in older children and adults. J Med Screen. 2003;10(1):5-10. doi:10.1258/096914103321610734
LeFevre ML. Screening for thyroid dysfunction: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(9):641-650. doi:10.7326/M15-0483
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test. Updated July 31, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/tsh-thyroid-stimulating-hormone-test/
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Triiodothyronine (T3) tests. Updated July 31, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/triiodothyronine-t3-tests/
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Thyroxine (T4) test. Updated July 31, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/thyroxine-t4-test/
MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Thyroid antibodies. Updated December 15, 2020. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/thyroid-antibodies/
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Updated August 2016. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Thyroid tests. Updated May 2017. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/thyroid
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Updated March 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism
National Institutes of Health. Thinking about your thyroid: Get to know this small but mighty gland. Published September 2015. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/09/thinking-about-your-thyroid
Ross DS. Laboratory assessment of thyroid function. In: Cooper DS, ed. UpToDate. Updated December 11, 2019. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/laboratory-assessment-of-thyroid-function
Ross DS. Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. In: Cooper DS, ed. UpToDate. Updated April 19, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnosis-of-hyperthyroidism
Ross DS. Diagnosis of and screening for hypothyroidism in nonpregnant adults. In: Cooper DS, ed. UpToDate. Updated September 16, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnosis-of-and-screening-for-hypothyroidism-in-nonpregnant-adults
US Department of Health and Human Services. Thyroid disease. Updated April 1, 2019. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/thyroid-disease
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Thyroid dysfunction: Screening. Published May 24, 2015. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/thyroid-dysfunction-screening