'Chance' diagnosis of Hypothyroidism

At end of 2012 I had cause to take my elderly mother to the local A.& E . When the doctor came to see Mum, he actually (initially) seemed more interested in ME than Mum. He had noticed the swelling/puffiness in my hands and asked me if I had seen my GP about it. At that time I was under terrific stress (I am 62 y.o.) as I have been looking after elderly disabled parents and feeling the pressure) I thought no more about it until the doctor came to see Mum at home, and I told him just how awful I was feeling. He prescribed Citalopram, and asked me to go for a blood test at the surgery. I think that he thought I was feeling so badly because of what I was going through at home.(and so did I!) Anyway. I did finally go for the blood test. One evening, a few days later I had a phone call from the Dr. advising that I had an underactive thyroid, and he prescribed Levothyroxine 50mg. My TSH level was over 200.

To use his words - 'no wonder you were feeling ill' !!!

6 weeks later, my TSH had reduced to 44, but my Levo. was increased to 100 mg.

8 weeks after that, my TSH had reduced again to 5 - Levo left at 100 mg. to be reviewed again in a few weeks time.

Obviously I still have many of the symptoms, but at least I know the reason now.

That's the background to the story, but I just wonder just how much worse I would have got had the A.& E. doctor not pointed out the problem. !

Since starting the Levothyroxine, several people have told me how much better I am looking, and how 'less irritable' I am now.

To be fair to my GP, I am very reluctant to go to the Doctor for myself. Think it may be because I have attended so many times with my parents over the last few years

I think I was very lucky to have been 'spotted' at the A & e.

13 Replies

  • We sometimes get the impression that few doctors know how to recognise hypothyroidism from appearance. Clearly your A&E man does know.Yes, you were lucky. Eventually you could have fallen into what is called a myxoedema coma which is a very serious state. Sounds like you were well on the way.


  • What a lucky chance meeting. Hope you continue to feel better.

  • Thanks both for replies.

    I know that it is still very early days, but so far - so good.

    I know next to nothing about hypoth. at the moment, but I am on a 'fast learning curve' and am finding all the posts on this site very interesting and informative.

    SO FAR, I have only been given TSH levels, but am now finding that I need other levels too.

    Does anyone know - Do most surgeries provide print-outs on request?


  • Ideal is TSH less than 1, T3 and T4 both at top of range. Vit D and Vit B12 well in range )ie not at the bottom) and ferritin in range too

  • thanks for that info. will check it out if / when I'm able to get the full results.

  • Hi

    there s no IF! you are entitled to a copy of all your blood test results so just ask the surgery to print you one off.

  • thanks, I have asked for these from my surgery........see what comes!


  • Well, I have now received my blood test results in the post, and I almost wish I hadn't asked! the first results were:

    TSH was 200

    FT3 was 1.5 - range 4.00 - 6.8

    FT4 - not given

    HbA1c level - IFCC standardised - was 51 mmol/mol which apparently indicates that I am Diabetic, too

    Serum cortisol was 547 - range 170 - 535 nmol/L.


    2nd Results

    TSH was 44

    no other results


    3rd Results

    TSH was 5.1 - range 0.30 - 4.20

    FT4 was 14.9 - range 12.00 - 22.00

    (Significant improvement - repeat 3 months


    When Dr phoned me with the first set of results, he didn't mention the Diagnosis for Diabetes(!) I need to ask him why!!!

    wonder if he wants to stabilise the UAT first - possibly ?

    In addition, my feet feel as if they are on fire - Burning Feet Syndrome(?) I think it's called. Do any of you get that? I always thought that feeling Cold was the usual symptom.

    Help? advice? anyone!!

    best wishes


  • Re the diabetes, if it's Type 2 then there may be a direct connection to the thyroid so you doctor would wish to wait until thyroid is settled before acting on the diabetes.

    See this recent abstract in PubMed:

    The Relationship between Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Related Thyroid Diseases.


    Burning Feet Syndrome has several causes, hypothyroidism and vitamin B12 deficiency are of particular interest to us. If you haven't had your B12 level tested, then do get it done!

    I posted a link to this article recently, which you may or may not have seen:

    Burning feet syndrome - A clinical review


  • Hi, RedApple, thanks very much for posting those two articles. they're really interesting / helpful / informative.

    My poor GP won't know what has hit him when I go to my next appointment armed with my list of questions!. I don't even know what TYPE of Diabetes I have, yet. I rather think it will be type 2.

    Thanks again.


  • Hi - I'm so pleased you were spotted and well done that doctor!

    My TSH was just over 10 when I was diagnosed and I was really ill - I really don't know how you managed at 200. I have learnt a lot from this site and it's been a great support through the ups and downs.

    Best wishes


  • thanks for your reply.

    I now realise that I must have been walking around on automatic pilot - like a zombie! I was very tearful, and if anyone spoke to me, I took it the wrong way, I also think I had the symptoms for several years.

    For as long as I can remember, I have always felt so tired, and had no energy. As I said, I had my disabled and elderly parents to care for, and I never had time to care for myself! However, my mother passed away recently, and now I do have a little more spare time.

    i know that exercise is good for me, - I don't dispute that at all, BUT, the very LAST thing I feel like doing is going for walks yet.. In fact most afternoons / evenings I fell asleep in the chair. I'm not so bad now since treatment started.

    I do agree with you about this site, it is reassuring to know that I am not alone, and I feel better informed when talking to Dr.

    Whilst I wouldn't wish hypothyroidism on anyone, I am 'fortunate' to have a Sister-In-Law who has also been diagnosed within the last 6 months or so, so obviously we compare symptoms when we meet, .

    I'd quite like to see the A.& E. Doctor again to thank him!



  • Hi Heather

    I'm sorry about your mother. You really have had a difficult time however you sound very positive. I'm sure this will help you so much in your recovery. It's also very likely that you're right and you were hypo for some time - it seems to creep up gradually. I'm sure I was too - on a much less drastic scale than you!

    It's early days on replacement and I'm learning to listen to my body. I still have days when I need a little 'siesta' - so I go and have one.

    Exercise when you feel ready and not because you 'should' or 'it's good for you'. After I was diagnosed in Feb 2012, it was July 2012 before I felt able to start walking again. My advice is 'be good to yourself'!


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