Free T3


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Free T3 (free triiodothyronine) is a measure of free circulating T3, excluding that which is bound to carrier proteins. This provides a more accurate measure of T3 levels because the carrier proteins can increase or decrease in various conditions artificially inflating or shrinking the total T3. T3 is discriminating for diagnosing and/or following the treatment of hyperthyroidism. It is not very useful at the low range of concentrations, so is not very helpful in diagnosing hypothyroidism. The thyroid delivers 20 times more T4 than T3, so T4 is the more relevant analyte except in special cases.

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Purpose of the test

The Triiodothyronine (T3) test measures the level of T3 in the blood. T3 is one of the two primary hormones produced by the thyroid gland, with the other being thyroxine (T4). These hormones play a pivotal role in regulating the body's energy usage, controlling weight, body temperature, muscle strength, and the nervous system. The T3 hormone exists in two forms: bound T3 (attaches to protein) and free T3 (does not attach). The test can measure both forms (total T3 test) or just the free T3. Abnormal T3 levels can indicate thyroid disease.

Who Should Get Tested

A T3 test is primarily used to diagnose hyperthyroidism, where the body produces excessive thyroid hormone. The test is often ordered alongside T4 and TSH tests. It may also be used to monitor treatment for thyroid disease. Individuals showing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as anxiety, weight loss, tremors, increased heart rate, bulging eyes, sleep disturbances, fatigue, heat intolerance, and frequent bowel movements, might need a T3 test.

Preparing for the Test
Depending on the type of cholesterol test, you may be required to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test. This means avoiding all food and drinks except water. Fasting is usually required for a lipid panel, which measures LDL and HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, as they can affect your test results.
Avoid alcohol consumption for at least 24 hours before the test, as alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
Avoid heavy exercise for 24 hours before the test, as this can also affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Avoid smoking or using any nicotine products for at least 30 minutes before the test, as they can temporarily increase cholesterol levels.
Follow instructions
Follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as the time of day to take the test or any dietary restrictions.
Interpreting Test Results

High total or free T3 levels may indicate hyperthyroidism, while low levels might suggest hypothyroidism. T3 test results are often analyzed in conjunction with T4 and TSH test results for a comprehensive diagnosis of thyroid disease. If there are concerns about the results, it's crucial to discuss them with a healthcare provider. During pregnancy, thyroid changes can occur, but T3 testing is usually not required unless specific conditions or symptoms are present.

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