Click here to listen to a reading of this blog:
THIS POST HAS BEEN SPONSORED BY ZRT Lab. ALTHOUGH AS ALWAYS, ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.
This online thyroid testing kit review is quite exciting in that I’ve never done one like this before.
Using ‘Dried Blood Spots’ where you prick your finger using a lancet and place the drops of blood on a piece of card, this way of testing is limited in terms of how invasive it is, and very quick and easy to use in the comfort of your own home.
When ZRT Labs asked if I would be willing to try this form of blood test and talk about my experience, I knew that many of you would be interested in it. So I of course said yes and they sent me a complimentary kit to give it a go.
Please note: this post does contain photos of droplets of blood to demonstrate how the product works, so if you’re not happy seeing photos of this, you’ve been warned!
ZRT Lab developed the science for accurately measuring hormones via dried blood spot tests and they are currently the only lab to offer this method commercially.
The test kit they sent me was called the ‘Elite Thyroid Profile’ and included: Total T4, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies and Thyroglobulin Antibodies. The antibodies measure Hashimoto’s, the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
When the kit arrived in a little box, I was obviously very intrigued and excited to see what it looked like exactly and how the process of obtaining my blood sample via this method differed to others I had used in the past.
An instructions sheet was included, which covered all the simple and easy to follow steps so that it wasn’t too confusing on my first go and I made sure to read these through a few times, after which I decided to complete it the next morning. The only prep I needed to do was to remember to take my thyroid medication after the blood draw, which is something I always do so comparing test results is as accurate as possible. Apart from that, I didn’t need to fast or do any other preparations.
Following the instructions, I warmed myself up beforehand by taking a shower, and ensured my hands were clean and free of any creams or anything else. I taped the card to my dining table to secure it in place and make it one less thing I had to worry about keeping in position.
After using a sterile wipe to clean the chosen finger, I took a lancet and chose the middle finger on my left hand to prick. Choosing your non-dominant hand is wise as your finger can feel a little sore afterwards. I pinched the side of my finger and pressed the lancet down firmly – it’s worth really committing yourself to it and not hesitating. The pain is literally a prick and not at all something you need to worry about, so the better you confidently pressed it down, the better blood droplets you’re going to get forming. This has been something I’ve learnt over time with these kinds of tests!
After wiping the first drop of blood away, I started to gently massage (note: never squeeze or be too rough) the finger so that big drops of blood presented themselves on the tip of my finger. Gently placing them in to each circle on the filter card, they spread out and soaked through to the other side, which is good – that’s exactly what we’re aiming for! The first finger dried up exactly half way through, so using the second lancet provided, I pricked my left ring finger to complete the rest of the circles.
Each droplet could be a little different in size, but they had to be the size of a pencil eraser at the very least. Mine came out in different shapes as some ran down my finger and lead to me pressing them down slightly differently. I did manage to stay inside the circles though!
When I shared the below photo on my Instagram page, many of you were intrigued as to how it worked and loved it as an option.
After completing the card, which only took a few minutes (if that), I let it dry for forty-five minutes before packing my return kit back to ZRT Lab. I had to fill in a form concerning my name, date of birth, current medications, and what I thought really added to the process – I had to tick a list of symptoms to confirm which (if any) I currently experienced. I’m assuming, they’re to be incorporated in to my results and feedback. I only had about three to tick as ‘mild symptoms’.
I posted it the same day, using UPS, which sent it back to the US. I created an account on the UPS website and filled in the details from there which didn’t take too long. ZRT Lab do recommend using this service as it is more stable for the blood samples and gets to them quicker than standard post or shipping. I was worried about the blood sample keeping well but ZRT explains on their website that the blood spot cards are extremely stable for shipment and storage, so to not worry at all.
It took a few days for ZRT to receive my blood sample and then two weeks after that, I received an email telling me I had results ready to view. Following a link in the email which took me to a page to create an account, I had a few issues with logging back in to it later but customer service was very helpful and patient with me!
As well as viewing the results online, I had the option to download and/or print them off to take to my doctor. As well as numerical figures being given for the results, there were bars which indicated where I fell, using red, green and yellow (with green being ideal). Commentary was also included as well as the likeliness of me having other issues for investigation. Things they ‘checked’ or gave markers for included low progesterone, high oestrogen, high androgens (testosterone/DHEA), low cortisol, high cortisol and metabolic issues.
My results all came back as expected for someone on Natural Desiccated Thyroid Medication and I had other thyroid testing done around the same time, so I compared both sets of results and they all matched up, demonstrating the accuracy of ZRT’s testing.
My only discrepancy with the whole process was how some of my information was entered, which was incorrect. The person who had transferred the information I’d written on the form, in to my online account, had made a few errors which weren’t major but could affect the validity in places. I think it was mainly because I wrote in the UK format and it was processed in the US format. An example was my D.O.B which was entered incorrectly, as well as the date I had given of the first day of my last menses. So if you’re a UK resident completing any tests that go out the country for processing, I recommend using the format ’30th May 2019′ for example as I wrote in the format 30/05/19 and they put it in as 05/03/19. There was also a typo regarding the amount of thyroid medication I take. Clearly my handwriting isn’t very neat!
My next steps include taking these results to a private doctor I am seeing regarding my thyroid health and management, so that he can use them to form my treatment plan going forward. You can also take them to your regular doctor/s or other healthcare practitioners to be added to your medical record.
ZRT Lab are US based, though they test internationally, covering ninety six countries! I know that this option of blood testing will be exciting to many thyroid patients so it’s great that I don’t have to give the caveat that it’s not available to a lot of you because it really is.
The Elite Thyroid Profile Blood Spot Test that I used can be ordered online here, which is currently $299. It was given to me complimentarily on this occasion.
What if this all sounds great, but you’re worried you’re not going to bleed enough with the finger prick test?
If you struggle even when a phlebotomist or nurse tries to draw your blood, then the finger prick test might not be ideal, but by all means you can still give it a go as it can work better for many people. Nurses often struggle to get blood out of my arm, but this was super easy and I had no issues completing it at all.
The instructions included are easy to follow and having the bonus of being able to do it in the comfort of your own home is very useful indeed.
My top pick of other ZRT Lab tests which will be of interest to many people with thyroid conditions:
Comprehensive Thyroid Profile (Dried urine sample tests: Iodine, Bromine, Selenium, Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Creatinine. And dried blood spot sample tests: Total T4, TgAb, TSH, free T3, free T4, TpoAb).
Essential Thyroid Profile (Dried blood spot sample tests: Free T4, Free T3, TSH, TpoAb)
Adrenal Stress Profile (DHEA-S, Cortisol four times daily)
You can view all of their tests here.
Have you tried this type of blood test before?
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a board member for The American College of Thyroidology and The WEGO Health Patient Leader Advisory Board. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and many more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. She has authored two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Rachel is British, but advocates for thyroid patients on a global scale.