Medically reviewed on April 4, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Your thyroid is a small gland in the front of your neck that releases various hormones, and these hormones interact with nearly every organ in your body .
As your thyroid carries a lot of responsibility in the body, a malfunctioning thyroid can lead to some health issues. Some common thyroid conditions (and the main symptoms) include :
- Hyperthyroidism – The thyroid makes more hormones than necessary.
- Hypothyroidism – The thyroid doesn’t make enough hormones.
- Goiter – The thyroid is larger than it should be.
- Thyroiditis – The thyroid is swollen.
- Thyroid nodules – There are hard lumps that develop inside the thyroid gland.
- Thyroid cancer – There are abnormal growths that develop in the thyroid and (potentially) spread throughout the body.
If you suspect that your thyroid isn’t operating at 100%—or that you have one of the conditions described above—it’s time to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. If visiting a provider in person isn’t a practical or accessible option, consider online thyroid treatment.
In this guide, we’ll explain what to expect when seeking online thyroid treatment and some important considerations to make before pursuing telemedicine care.
7 steps for treating your thyroid with telehealth providers
How does online thyroid treatment work? Let’s break down seven steps you should expect to take if you use telehealth services to seek thyroid care.
Find out if your insurance policy covers telehealth
If you have insurance coverage, your first step is finding out whether your policy covers telehealth services. While telehealth services are covered under many commercial healthcare plans (and some Medicare and Medicaid plans), not every insurance policy covers virtual care .
Examine your insurance policy or speak to your insurer to find out:
- Which telehealth providers are in your network – One of the best ways to keep your healthcare services affordable is to choose in-network providers when possible . But, if there aren’t any telehealth providers in your network, ask your insurer whether or not you could file a claim for out-of-network expenses and receive reimbursement.
- Your copay or coinsurance costs – Depending on your policy, you may have to pay a copay or coinsurance for each appointment with a telehealth provider. To estimate your costs, ask your insurer how much you should expect to spend during each visit.
- Your out-of-pocket maximum – If you meet your deductible during online thyroid treatment, you may have to pay for care out-of-pocket. But, if your insurance policy features an out-of-pocket maximum, your insurer may step in to pay some (or all) of the costs if you cross that threshold.
Choose a virtual healthcare provider
Once you’ve ironed out your insurance details, you’ll want to choose a provider. As you look for a telehealth provider, look for:
- An endocrinologist or thyroidologist – Endocrinologists are healthcare providers that specialize in the entire endocrine system (which manages your body’s hormone activity), but thyroidologists specifically focus on the thyroid [4, 5].
- A provider with hybrid options – Ideally, your online provider will also offer in-person treatment options. While not every thyroid issue requires in-person treatment, a severe condition like thyroid cancer will . If your telehealth provider only offers virtual services, confirm that they can refer you to someone local if you need in-person treatment.
Complete your first appointment with a telehealth provider
What should you expect during your first appointment for online thyroid treatment? After introductions, your provider may ask you about :
- Your overall health information – Your age, height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate are all common vital signs your provider might record during a telehealth appointment.
- Your personal and family medical histories – Have you had hormone or thyroid issues before? Do you know if anyone in your family ever had similar symptoms? Information about your health history and any genetic predispositions might help your provider narrow down your diagnosis.
- Your symptoms – To help identify your thyroid issue, your provider will likely ask you about your symptoms. If you keep a journal of your symptoms, your provider might ask to review it.
Schedule, order, and complete recommended tests
During your first appointment, your telehealth provider might recommend testing that could help narrow down your possible diagnosis. Diagnostic screening methods commonly used to identify thyroid issues are :
- Blood tests, including: TSH, which measures thyroid-stimulating hormone; T3 and T4, which measure thyroid hormone levels in the blood; Thyroid antibody test, to rule out or identify any autoimmune thyroid disorder
- Imaging, like: A computed tomography (CT) scan; An ultrasound; A nuclear thyroid scan; An iodine uptake test
If your provider recommends a blood test, ask about your options for at-home thyroid testing collection kits. The at-home collection might be a convenient option for patients with childcare responsibilities, a busy work schedule, or lack of access to a traditional testing facility.
Discuss test results with your provider
Once you’ve completed any tests or screenings recommended by your provider, they’ll likely ask you to make a follow-up appointment to discuss your results. This follow-up appointment might include:
- A review of your test results – Your healthcare provider will help you understand and interpret the results of your tests or screenings.
- A preliminary diagnosis – Using your symptoms and test results, your provider may be able to make a preliminary diagnosis to help explain some of your thyroid issues. While testing doesn’t always guarantee that a provider can make a diagnosis, the data may help your provider develop a treatment plan or rule out some diagnoses.
- Discussing additional testing – If your provider only recommended a blood test at your first appointment, they may recommend an in-person screening depending on your results.
Create a treatment plan
After the testing phase, your provider will either:
- Make a diagnosis based on qualitative data (the descriptions of your symptoms) and quantitative test results.
- Move forward without an official diagnosis for the time being.
No matter which route your provider takes, they’ll still recommend a treatment plan if they think you have a thyroid issue. There are several approaches for how to balance thyroid hormones or treat issues. Your treatment plan might include :
- Medication – Depending on your specific thyroid symptoms and test results, your provider might recommend thyroid hormone replacement therapy medications (to support an underactive thyroid), anti-thyroid prescriptions (to slow hormone production in an overactive thyroid), or any other thyroid medication that support healthy hormone balance .
- Radioactive iodine therapy – If your test results reveal that your thyroid is overactive, your provider may recommend radioiodine therapy . Since iodine is a natural precursor to thyroid hormones T3 and T4, the thyroid recognizes iodine as a familiar substance and absorbs it. But, by using a radioisotope of iodine, providers can limit some of your thyroid activity to help your body return to normal hormone levels .
- Thyroid surgery – If you have a serious thyroid condition, your provider may recommend thyroid surgery as a part of your treatment plan. The specifics of their surgical recommendation will depend on your diagnosis .
Make follow-up appointments
As you progress through the steps in your treatment plan, your provider may ask you to make follow-up appointments at regular intervals to:
- Review improvements or worsening thyroid symptoms
- Manage your prescriptions, which could include: Monitoring your body’s tolerance to medication; Writing prescription refills; Modifying your dose of medication; Changing your medication regimen
- Schedule additional tests, screenings, or procedures
While the duration of online thyroid treatment varies by person, we recommend doing your best to follow the treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Factors to consider when seeking thyroid treatment through telehealth
What should you keep in mind before and during your online thyroid treatment? Let’s break down a few important elements to consider as you resolve your thyroid issues.
Involving your primary care provider
If you have a primary care provider (someone you see for yearly checkups, for instance), you might consider involving this provider in your thyroid care plan. Your primary care provider could:
- Refer you to an online thyroid treatment provider.
- Help you monitor other elements of your health during the treatment process.
- Recommend testing or screening providers and at-home options.
If you choose not to involve your primary care provider in your thyroid treatment process, just remember to mention your ongoing treatment at your next annual wellness visit.
At-home testing opportunities
While we touched on at-home testing above, let’s break down how this testing method might fit into your online thyroid treatment.
Most at-home collection kits are simple:
- Order a thyroid test kit online and register the kit when it arrives.
- Collect your finger prick sample using the materials and collection vial provided.
- Mail your sample to a testing lab with prepaid postage.
- Await your results (which might be sent via email or uploaded to a secure portal)
At-home collection kits are a convenient alternative to traditional lab testing facilities. There’s no need to make an appointment, take time off work, or arrange transportation to a lab: you can collect your sample from the comfort of your home.
Learn more about your thyroid health with Everlywell
Online thyroid care is available as an alternative to in-person appointments. Opting for virtual instead of in-person services for even just a few steps can simplify the process.
Providing convenient alternatives to empower you in your health and wellness is what we do at Everlywell. If during your online thyroid treatment your healthcare provider suggests a blood draw, our At-Home Collection Kit for Thyroid Testing can deliver insights straight to you. The test measures the levels of all three main thyroid hormones (TSH, free T3, and free T4) and detects thyroid antibodies.
Plus, you can consult virtually with one of our telehealth providers to guide you through your test results. Unlock better thyroid health today.
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