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Thyroid Antibodies Test — Find Out What’s Causing Your Thyroid Problems
Updated on October 6, 2022
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Thyroid Antibodies Test — Find Out What’s Causing Your Thyroid Problems

Your thyroid is a tiny gland in your neck that plays a huge part in your health. 

By controlling your metabolism, it helps regulate your digestion, heart, brain, and muscle function, energy levels, and body weight. 

“Almost all the cells in the body rely on good thyroid function to perform their duties,” says Dr. Rizza Mira.

The immune system can sometimes mistakenly attack the thyroid gland. This causes inflammation and tissue damage, which can lead to thyroid dysfunction.

Certain tests look for the presence of antibodies in your blood, which is a sign of an autoimmune disease. Doctors can use these tests to help you make informed decisions about your health.


We talked to Dr. Rizza Mira, a general practitioner, to see how thyroid tests diagnose thyroid issues.

Quick Facts on Thyroid Antibody Test

  • May test for three different thyroid antibodies
  • Can determine if your thyroid issues are caused by an autoimmune disorder 
  • Higher thyroid antibody levels suggest an autoimmune thyroid disease

Why Take A Thyroid Antibodies Test?

Your doctor will usually order the test to see if your symptoms are caused by autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD), such as Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease.1

These diseases are usually caused by hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).

Besides helping diagnose your condition, a thyroid antibody test can also be used to:

  • Decide which course of treatment is best for patients with thyroid disorders
  • Monitor the progression of an AITD
  • Determine if a person is at risk for AITD
  • Monitor a patient after they have received treatment for thyroid cancer
  • Determine if thyroid hormone treatment is needed in pregnant women with AITD

What Does A Thyroid Antibody Test For?

A thyroid antibody test looks for antibodies against parts of your thyroid. 

Antibodies are special immune cells that patrol your body looking for harmful bacteria and viruses. When they find one, they bind to it and tag it so your immune system can clean it up. 

Sometimes, antibodies confuse your own cells for harmful intruders and tell your immune system to attack them. This causes an autoimmune reaction. 

“It is important to check what type of antibody is present in someone with thyroid dysfuction. It can help doctors determine the appropriate treatment,” says Dr. Mira

According to Dr. Mira, some patients may need hormone replacement while others may need to lower their hormone levels. There are three main types of thyroid antibodies that are tested:

Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)

Thyroid peroxidase is an enzyme needed to make thyroid hormones. Most people with Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease have high TPOAb levels.2  

“The presence of TPOAb can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism. These include hyperactivity, rapid heartbeat, anxiety and rapid weight loss, among others,” Dr. Mira explains.

Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)

Thyroglobulin is a protein made by a healthy thyroid gland. It serves as the precursor for thyroid hormones. However, Dr. Mira says this protein can also be made by cancerous thyroid cells.

Thyroglobulin antibodies are found in about 70% of people with Hashimoto’s disease. They are less common in those with Graves’ disease.2 

TgAb is often tested along with thyroglobulin levels in people who have been treated for thyroid cancer.

Thyrotropin receptor antibodies (TRAb)

When thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH) come in contact with thyrotropin receptors, they stimulate the thyroid to make thyroid hormones.

Thyrotropin receptor antibodies are very common in people with Graves’ disease but are rare in people with Hashimoto’s disease.2

When Should You Get A Thyroid Antibodies Test?

A thyroid antibody test is usually ordered if you show symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, and your thyroid tests confirm it.


Before doctors order the test, they will usually rule out iodine deficiency.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Dry skin, mouth, and eyes
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Brain fog and depression

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue 
  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Insomnia
  • High heart rate 

Goiter Symptoms

A goiter is a swelling of the neck caused by abnormal growth of the thyroid. According to Dr. Mira, the most common cause of goiter worldwide is the lack of iodine in the diet.

It’s associated with both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. However, most goiters don’t cause any symptoms. However, if it becomes large enough, it may cause:

  • Feeling of tightness in the throat and neck
  • Cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing

Hashimoto’s Disease Symptoms

Hashimoto’s disease is a disease that causes hypothyroidism and is associated with the same symptoms. The more advanced stages of the disease can cause symptoms such as:

  • Irregular Heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Swelling of extremities 
  • Enlarged thyroid (goiter)

Graves’ Disease Symptoms

Graves’ disease is a disease that causes hyperthyroidism. During its early stages, it will have the same symptoms as an overactive thyroid.

Later stages of the disease can cause goiter, severe weakness, and an irregular heartbeat.   

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Doctors will routinely test for TgAb levels together with thyroglobulin levels after a patient has been treated for thyroid cancer. This helps them monitor the patient in case the cancer returns. 

High antibody levels can interfere with your thyroglobulin test results and make them unreliable.

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How Much Does A Thyroid Antibody Test Cost?

The cost of a thyroid antibody test will vary based on these factors:

  • If you have health insurance or not
  • How many antibodies are tested
  • The lab used for testing

Insurance will usually cover the cost of the test if it’s ordered by your doctor. However, you may be responsible for paying your deductible or co-pay.

If you don’t have insurance, you can purchase both the thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies tests out-of-pocket using a direct-to-consumer (DTC) service. 

At-home thyroid tests usually cost anywhere between $50 and $100.   

How Thyroid Antibody Testing Works

A thyroid antibody test can be performed at a doctor’s office, clinic, lab, hospital, or other medical settings. There are also testing kits that allow you to test your thyroid antibody levels from the comfort of your home.

Before Your Test

There is no preparation needed before you take a thyroid antibody test. 

Certain medications and supplements, as well as pregnancy, can affect your results. So make sure to let your doctor know beforehand what you’re taking and if you’re pregnant.

Collecting Blood Samples

You will need to have your blood drawn if the test is ordered by your doctor. A phlebotomist will insert a needle into your arm and draw a small sample of blood. 

This usually takes less than a couple of minutes. You may feel a slight sting when the needle first goes in or when it’s removed.  

With an at-home test, you just need to provide a small sample of blood from a finger prick (usually around 5 drops of blood).

After You Take The Test

After your blood is drawn, a cotton swab and bandage will be placed on the arm to prevent bleeding. You should leave bandages on for a couple of hours. But you may still continue with your day-to-day activities.    

For at-home tests, a band-aid will be provided. You will need to package and send off your blood sample to a lab for testing.

How Long Do Results Take?

You should get your results back within 2 to 3 days. Results from at-home test kits can take 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the company and how quickly you ship your sample.

How to Interpret Your Thyroid Antibody Test Results

There are a number of possible results from your thyroid antibody test, including:  

  • Negative for all antibodies — you likely do not have an autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Positive for TPOAb and/or TgAb you may have Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease, depending on whether you're producing too little or too much thyroid hormone 
  • Positive for TPOAb and TRAb this pattern is commonly seen in people with Graves’ disease. Hashimoto’s patients rarely test positive for TRAb.

The higher the number of antibodies you have, the more likely it is that you have an AITD. However, Dr. Mira says that some patients may have subclinical disease.

“This means that antibodies are present but the symptoms are not yet full-blown. Patients with the condition are closely monitored by their doctors,” she adds.

Doctors can also use antibody levels as a measure of how a patient with autoimmune disease is progressing during treatment.  

What To Do After Taking A Thyroid Antibodies Test

To help make sense of your results, you can ask your healthcare provider questions such as:

  • Do my results show that I have an autoimmune thyroid disease?
  • What course of treatment is appropriate given my results?
  • Will I need to take a thyroid antibody test in the future? If so, how often?

If you are diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease, there are medications available to help manage your symptoms and maintain the health of your thyroid.

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Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Will Hunter
Will Hunter
Content Contributor
Will is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Will has 7 years of experience writing health-related content, with an emphasis on nutrition, alternative medicine, and longevity.
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