T3, how to understand blood test and Thyroid?

I was a young slim girl until 4 yrs ago when my GP told me i have underactive thyroid and put me on 50mg of levo.. i feel like killing myself due to the tiredness and depression i am suffering! I have started doing research.. came across Armour Thyroid and have asked my GP to prescribe it to me.. she has referred me to an endo.. hopefully he/she will allow me to use it..

Wanted to know, is thyroid something you can get rid of? I'm being told i will be stuck on it for life and i cannot accept that.. i will ask my GP for my results.. but i am currently on such a low intake of levo that i feel i may be able to fight it.. what do i look at on my blood test? What do i measure my results against? Help!

40 Replies

  • Hello Jay-K . I am not very knowledgeable, but there are lots of people on this site who are and can give you advise about what you can do. Ask your doctors surgery for a print out of your blood test results and post them here along with your symptoms and you will get good advise from people who have been through similar problems and have found ways to help themselves. They will be able to explain the blood tests and what they mean.

    I'm so sorry you are struggling like this, but don't give up there is help here on this site. Keep communicating, I know it's difficult when you are ill.

    Hope you get some sleep!

  • NO, its not something you can 'get rid of' if your thyroid isn't working then you need replacement hormones or you will die!! Simple as that! Not trying to scare you just trying to let you know how important the thyroid is. Most endos are diabetes specialists and have no idea of thyroid issues nor do they want any idea! If levo does not work for you remember you are not alone there are thousands out there that do not find it useful!

  • Hello Jay-K and welcome to the forum. Yes Thyroid medication is for life but lots of people are helped and have few problems! People tend to post if they don't understand how things work or if it not working for them so don't think its all bad news! It does take time though to find that dose or may be ultimately the right treatment for you. We are all different and that's something many doctors dont realise and that one treatment doesn't help all.

    You have been started on a standard starting dose of Levo which is T4 and is inactive but your body will convert it to the active form called T3 and hopefully when you find your optimum dose you fill feel well again. Sadly it doesn't happen overnight! It takes about 6 weeks for that dose to build up and so then you should be retested and if necessary a small increase give but then its another 6 weeks etc so that's why its a slow process but hopefully you will start to see an improvement soon. It would be useful to start a diary, wish I had done thi, write down your dose and how you are feeling.

    You also need to take the tablets on an empty stomach, a good hour before food or two hours after food if you take then at night and 4 hours away from calcium. Drink a glass of water to make sure it reaches your stomach and don't take it at the same time as any other meds. Patience is needed! Whilst you are waiting for all this to unfold then loads of good information on the Thyroid UK site, list of possible symptoms, not to frighten you but for information. It also explains that checking the levels of vitamins and minerals are important so useful to get those tested as well. Anything that you don't understand then do ask. Nothing is too trivial, we've all been there and plenty of help around if things don't go according to plan. Any test results post then and the ranges, important as they vary from lab to lab and plenty of hopefully good advice given. Hopefully you will be fine on the standard treatment but if not then advice available on what to do next. Many go one to manage their medication without great problems. Good luck and keep posting.

  • Thank you,l read good advice on taking my meds,which didn't know, meaning,don't take with other meds which lve been doing for a long time,hadn't heard,or been advice sence 2002

    Have learnt something here.

  • I changed from levo to armour and would recommend the change if you can get it, although I still have to sort my weight out, I am a lot better on Armour.

  • I had an underactive thyroid for years[unknowingly] I felt tired and could have slept all the time to the extent I was having major building work in the next room done and I sat on the chair in the next room and fell asleep through it I thought this was my life.It was only after going to the drs.for a blood test and the nurse wanted to know why I couldn't remember so she did everything and it was picked up.I was 39 and had slept since my teens.I was put on a small dose of levo and gradually over the weeks it was increased to 100mg daily.Now I feel ok but sometimes a bit tired but that could be other tablets I'm on.It can take weeks before the drs. get the tablets right but they will.

    The other thing is you will be entitled to free prescriptions if you pay ask the drs.receptionist for an HC1.

  • sadly you are stuck with hypothyroid for life but as many many have proved switching to Natural Dessicated Thyroid (Armour, Westhyroid, ERFA, Thyroid-s ,nature thyroid) has made a huge difference to their lives

    Whether the medics /endos/NHS/CCGs like it or no ........levothyroxine does not suit everyone nor does just t3 or a combination of levo plus T3

    We are all different and what suits one does not suit another

    NDT/Armour contains T1 T2 T3 T4 and calcitonin and for some people that's the vital factor

    However unless


    Vit D3

    Vit B12

    Magnesium are all OPTIMAL ( not just NHS in Range crap )

    your body simply cannot utilise the levothyroxine and convert it to the T3 your cells are screaming for

  • Just to add, if you ever go to the dentist and need to be x-rayed ask for a collar block as radiation from x-rays kills your thyroid, as does radiation from iPads and laptops and the likes of. I had to 'clue up' my dentist. My thyroid ( which is almost dead) throbs like mad when I'm near any radiation..please be careful, good luck with sorting out your meds, ask for a T3 and T4 combination from your endo, it'll take time to get them on your side but worth the hassle in the end. I'm so thankful for this site, otherwise I'd not known any wiser, good luck with feeling better..trust me, never ever not take your meds thinking you can overcome it like I did! You'll feel on deaths door! None of us here want that for you! Take care ;)

  • T3 and T4 are synthetic versions of armour thyroid ( which is taken from pigs) my endo refuses to give me armour but doesn't mind me buying it myself online! That Should tell you something!! I know you were asking another question but I see others have told you the bad news..just adding extras on for you that's all x

  • Your low dose of levothyroxine, at 50mcg is usually a starting dose but you will find out that doctors know very little about how to get the patient well.

    I am not surprised you feel so unwell. In fact too a low dose can give you other symptoms plus weight gain. Weight gain, too, is a clinical symptom of undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

    Thyroid Gland is the Master Gland for our whole body which cannot function when it is too low. It involves from the top of your head to your toes. If you email louise.warvill@thyroiduk.org and ask for a copy of Endocrinologists and one may be near you. Some are not sympathetic to their patients and will prescribe nothing other than levothyroxine.

    When you next have a blood test for your thyroid gland, ask for a Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, ferritin, folate and iron as we are usually low and these can cause problems. Always get copies from the surgery with the ranges for your own records and so that you can post if you have a query.

    Do not take medication before your blood test and have it as early as possible. Your GP could also have added some T3 to levo but some wont do that either.

  • I don't mean to be a smart Ass..but the Pituitary Gland is the master gland..without it, the Thyroid, Adrenal, Growth Hormone and all Sex hormones would be gone...you would die. Thyroid is much less drastic.

  • My husband said this is true. But don't you think the thyroid gland controls a lot? Thanks Susita

  • yes it does. is your husband a doctor?

  • No he's not but he is a very bright man.

  • I was really curious if he was, wasn't meaning to be unkind.

  • Never for a minute did I think that! He was just agreeing with you. Says the hypothalamus, pituitary, and thyroid really work together as an endocrine system. The pituitary has a lot to do with homeostasis, so it is critical (or at least, the TSH and other hormones it releases) are certainly critical to staying alive. So many things are regulated by the endocrine system. Even body temperature, which is critical in humans (and other mammals).

  • I stand corrected but you can live without it. Without thyroid gland hormones you also would die - hormones for both the pituitary and thyroid gland would need to be replaced.


  • With all due respect..if you don't make ACTH, you will have zero cortisol and will die. You cannot live with no cortisol.

  • Forgot the link and go to the date April 22, 2007 to read answer:-


    In order to get well and feel normal, you will have to read as much as you can. In the end you will know more than either your doctor or the Endocrinologist, I believe.

  • its auful when u put the weight on iv put a few stone on since iv been taking it 3yrs now and iv also suffer from water retention but iv had that since 1986 iv got pills for it but im on 50mg throxine tablets for my underactive thyroids and im always tired and cant be bothered to do anything and like you im on them for life so keep ur chin up and do the best you can

  • I don't know if this is a silly question or not, Jacqui, but if you are being treated for Hypothyroidism, then why are you still tired?

    I looked into having treatment as I am tired and assumed that if the GP had the dose right, I would not feel tired anymore???

    Do you feel less tired than before? I know nothing of the dosages so don't know what to expect if I was treated, now that I have read this.

  • iv got a few problems wrong with my health im diabetic also iv got high colestral and high blood preasure breathing problems but i went to the hospital on the 1st september to have the camera down my throat to see what ewas wrong with me iv got mild antral gastritis and the doctor there said it would be advisable to loose weight easier said than done when u have an underactive thyroid

  • Ah, I see, there are other things involved. I get so mixed up now myself as I also have high cholesterol, and the GP wants to put me on statins, but I know if you are low Thyroid, that can be dangerous. The endo however says I am not low enough for it to affect my cholesterol, yet the NHS site mentions it without any numbers attached :-/ so I will never know if she is was just trying to save NHS money. Thing is, I work in the same hospital, and I have seen NHS money wasted on things a lot more trivial than meds.

  • Gatritis would make you tired also. I might try a natural supplement.

  • and would you be able to say what it is I could try please

  • Hi Jacqui - I was meaning that I might go to find a natural thyroid supplement myself :-), sorry, I didn't phrase it well, lol :-)


  • Did your endo say this based on your TSH, FT4 or FT3 results?

    High cholesterol is a common consequence of low T3, so without an FT3 test, your endo could be wrong.

  • iv been to see my warfarin nurse this morning and I asked about my results for my thyroids and she wrote it down for me which is T S H 3.23 I dnt understand all this technology so what does it mean

  • Jacqui - TSH (thyroid stimulating Hormone) is the standard thyroid test the GPs do nowadays, and doesn't actually measure any thyroid hormones, only the level of chemical that tells your thyroid what to do. Of course, as you will guess by that, if anything goes wrong after that stage, it will not be picked up in the TSH test.

    Since 1971 this rather inconclusive test will only show a problem if it is particularly high. In the UK around 10 is considered a treatable level - so yours at 3.25 looks around normal as far as the NHS is concerned - in some other countries, anything over 3 is considered treatable.

    T4 and T3 tests measure the actual levels of your thyroid hormones, and are more useful. GPs in the uk are "lab" influenced, and when a TSH test comes back from the lab "normal" (no matter how many thyroid symptoms you have), GPs have been instructed to do no more (basically for the fear of it costing the NHS too much to treat should they find a problem with the actual hormone levels themselves).

    You are best to ask for a T4 test after looking at more info from the Thyroid UK site.

    Hope that helps XGlenys

  • Hi yousurname. My T4 was 11.5 and T3 was 3.8. She was adamant that my T3 was bang in the middle of normal, but I had read it was on the low side of normal.

    Thanx :-)

  • Dear Jay please don't loose heart. You have been given lots of good advice to follow and I just want to add speaking from experience the importance of taking the medication as Shaw stipulated and also that I am now so well on the Almus brand of levothyroxin which I have been on for 3 months now when I was on the mercury brand I was in so much muscle pain, aches and painfull cramps. So its worth trying this if you don't get them to agree to Armour for me the difference was noticeable after only about 4 days.. Also make sure you take vitimin Bs in particular 6 which will make you feel less on edge and depressed also what I have experienced. I am also taking Vit D and calcium as my nails were awful after a year on this I am beginning to see an improvement. I am a lot older than you and although diagnosed only 3 years ago think I have had a problem undiagnosed since I was in my 30s. Weight is still not coming off I currently take 125mg of levo more tests in October. My very best wishes jay hope you will improve soon.

  • Hi Gillykins

    I was just reading through this link & noticed you mentioned Almus brand of Levothyroxine - is this easy to obtain & where can I get it ? I too don't feel well on mercury pharma & would like to try it

    Many thanks

  • Hi Sutton if you are in uk Boots stock it under their brand name also begins with a Activis I think. I used to go in and ask if they had it before handing over my prescription to make sure I got it not MP. I also asked my GP for 50 mcg tablets so I could halve them into 25's as Almus are not done in 25mcg size (pill cutter chops them up ok) hope you get them ok I much preferred them to MP

  • Almus is Actavis product packaged for Alliance Boots.

    See here:


    There are only three UK makes - and Wockhardt is only available in 25mcg tablets.


  • Thank you Rod

    I have tried Actavis & couldn't tolerate it either (more than MP) ! I thought it was something different- I am wondering whether to try lactose free or compounded Levo / I have been on T4 for several yrs (hypo) 125mcg now & have fibromyalgia & still have a lot of muscle pain - so am willing to try anything - do you know the symptoms of lactose or fillers intolerance?

    Thank you

  • No - but I switched to Henning or Aliud (both also described at that link above) because I felt wrong on both MP and Actavis. MP I felt over-dosed a couple fo hours after taking it and yet under-dosed by the time I took my next dose. Actavis left me feeling permanently under-dosed - a week on it and I had one of those "I really need more" days.

    Compounded levothyroxine is very expensive.


  • jay, how long have you felt so badly....it's been four years afterall. This article and video point out some of the management of Hashimoto. The short video from a function neurologist shows the inter relation of the hormones involved. Also, there are many, many posts such as yours. I'm afraid it seems to be the norm in your medical system.


  • Do you have Hashimoto's? Hard to say if it's permanent unless we know why it isn't working. The majority of cases are, but most people lead a normal life and have normal weight, if their meds are optimal..the hard part is getting them there. It takes much patience and a good doctor. Good doc's are very hard to come by.

  • Hi all

    I really really appreciate everyone taking the time out to share their knowledge and experiences. The reason why it is affecting me so much is that i am only 25 years old, i was diagnosed at 21! I just feel so horrible day in day out.. trying to do house work is really difficult and this is just taking over my life. I guess my doctor has not been too good at helping me improve as 50mg is not making me a difference at all. I could go weeks without taking my medication and i would feel like how i would feel if i actually take my medication for weeks.

    Im really keen on trying out Armour.. how would i know what dosage of Armour i need to use if im on 50mg of levo? I really hope my endo agrees to prescribe armour to me. I heard about getting it on a private prescription.. anyone tried that?

  • hi jay k your not alone love i too am suffering underactive tghyroid im extremely tired im actually on higher dose than you and i get regular blood tests done i was trying to catch my breath i was having breathing problems , quiet frightening indeed the doctor had to put my dose up high because of this , yes you will be on thyroxine for life im afraid i am apsolutley drained at times i do have a 19 yr old who has extreme learning difficulties and a 14 yr old i am seeing myself in bed at 6pm or even 7 pm as im so exhausted , i also have menopause too dont know if they are both combining or not but i am actually fed up i am depressed too have been for along time i get heart palpitations i get so scared , ive never heard of armour what is this ? as i really need a boost is this given on nhs?

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