Hypothyroid and Low Cortisol

Hi. I've been on Levothyroxine for 5 years now with various issues and problems getting the dose right. Over the last few months, twice I have been told my cortisol is very low and Addison's is suspected. I'm now waiting for more cortisol blood results and am worried. Is low cortisol connected to low thyroid? Does anyone here have both conditions? Thanks

21 Replies

  • Welcome to our forum,

    I am sorry you are still unwell after five years on levothyroxine. Maybe you haven't been on a sufficient amount to make you feel well as some GPs believe that if the TSH reaches within the normal range we're taking sufficient hormones. This is wrong.

    This is a link which may be helpful.


    Other members who have had a cortisol problem will respond.

    If you can get a print-out of your recent thyroid gland blood tests with the ranges, post on a new question for comments. You may be on too low a dose of levo.

    If you've not had a recent blood test for your thyroid gland, ask for one to be done and also Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, iron, ferritin and folate as we are usually low which can cause problems as well. Then post your up-to-date results.

    When you post a question, at the end of the page if you click 'For community' it remains private within this forum but if you click Everyone, it is displayed on the world wide internet.

  • Hi Samargn,I have ME/CFS.My endo sent my bloods to France to test RT3 which can give all the symptoms of hypothyroidism but bloods come back within normal range here in Ireland and in England I think because they don't check RT3.Results came back as he suspected,raised RT3.He,s treating me with T3only medications,liothyronine,called Thybon or Cytomel.My cortisol was low as was my DHEA,adrenal function.He,s put me on DHEA and it's helping.Evidently when adrenal glands,and hence cortisol in trouble , then the thyroid causes problems too.Both have a to be responsible.Hope this helps in some way,lots of luck with it,xx

  • Hi myboys, who's your doctor? I have high RT3 and adrenal saliva overall is low. I have just started myself on Ashwagandha and B vit complex and c vit but would love to discuss this with a doc. Thanks!

  • Hello there Samargn

    I do. I'm so sorry you are going thru so much! It's not very pleasant at all

    It's really worrying I know, sounds like you have a great dr who checked it out though!!! That's really good!! Like Shaw says though maybe ur not on a high enough dose of levo?

    Have you done the saliva test? It's by Genova Diagnostics. It's very accurate that and the 24hr urine collection test, these are upposed to be the most accurate.

    Hopefully ur endo will do some further testing to see what's going on, like a cortisol saliva or urine test.

    I know there are other tests but not as accurate I think, like short synacthen test. I have heard others say it's a waste of time however I don't know.

    Do you crash from time to time??

    Feel like you hit a brick wall? It's odd really cuz i had that with hypo symptoms.

    I was also asked if I had had difficult births or head injuries.

    Best to post ur results and levels on our community so someone who is more versed in this than I am. I'm a newbie at all this, can help with some advice. my advice with drs is don't be fobbed off, get the right tests done to make sure you are on the right meds.

    I wish you well and hope it gets sorted for you and you feel much better! Feel free to pm me any time!

    Jen xx

  • I agree with you jennyfluff I had the short synacthen test waste of time. I asked my Endo last week about the 24 hour adrenal test, they do not do it on the NHS. I cannot afford to do it privately and I have always supspected Adrenal problems.

  • Marmaris,

    I just don't understand why the nhs doesn't use proper protocols and keeps up to date with better testings!!! So frustrating!!!!!!!!

    I'm sorry ur not getting to the bottom of ur health difficulties! I just don't get why the nhs waits until it's dire!!!! It's not in keeping really with providing safe care.

    Wishing you the best!!

    Jen xx

  • Many thanksx

  • bengreenfieldfitness.com/20...

    Thought this article interesting with lots of additional information. Good advice from shaws too. Being on inadequate treatment for the thyroid will stress the adrenals over time. Also being undiagnosed can cause insufficiency of the adrenals - which is why docs like Dr P treat the adrenals before treating the thyroid.

    Hope you soon feel better....

  • Mentionned this to my Endo last week as I have looked into it a lot, they don't seem to think about the Adrenal gland, I pointed out to him that surely that is necessary especially when treating with T3? Blank look!

  • ..maybe take a look at Paul Robinsons site - rwt3.com - could there be something there ?

  • Hi Samargn, I dont know if this will help at all but I have hashimoto hypothyroid, secondary Addisons and abnormal growth hormone which is diagnosed as hypopituitarism. I have had thyroid meds for 28 years but came to a standstill 3 years ago with such chronic fatigue and a mass of symptons turnes out after much testing and mri scan that it was actually the pituitary not working and crashing the adrenals and gh. For years my thyroid was suppressed at 0.2, turns out that the tsh reading cannot work for pituitary patients but only an endo can request t3/t4 lab readings. I had synchten test, insulin tolerance test etc, if cortisol is low normally growth hormone is affected to. Good luck with all, I have done much research since my diagnosis so if I can be of any help please contact me.

  • I am very interested in any information and advise with regard to Adrenals rossilin600 if you could pm me please.

  • rossilin600...i have Hashimotos, have continually, woozy, dizzy, feelings, a dull headache and continued puffiness around eyes and swelling all over and body pain. They discovered an Empty Sella, but i passed the Stim test, Cortisol Saliva is low, they tell me i am not missing any hormones. When i take steroids, my swelling gets worse..so apparently, i don't need them. I am now on t3 only and always ill. What testing have you had? What are your symptoms and what meds do you take? Are you feeling any better?

    Thank you so much!

  • I've been through what you're going through. It's all so infuriating! The reason why your cortisol is low, is because your adrenals are barely working, you probably know that, but what the medical community seems too stupid about is that your adrenals communicate to your thyroid. Your adrenals suppress the thyroid in order to down-regulate everything to force you to conserve energy and rest.

    You can take thyroid supplements, but they won't be able to gain access into your cells and instead just pool in the blood, causing negative reactions.

    You can not help the thyroid, until you FIRST fix the adrenals. The Adrenals are probably your primary problem and all along have been.

    I've had other posts here, one on my saliva test results and one called "adrenal ignorance" we all exchanged good info on it. Sad so many go through this.

  • You didn't say how you knew your cortisol was low. First you need a saliva test, you do that 4x during a day. Then you next would do a ACTH stim test, that helps determine what the pituitary is doing and if it's involved or if just adrenals. That's my next thing. Like others here have said, you need to have adequate Iron levels for thyroid and adrenals to function. Ferritin shows what Iron stores you have and is a good indicator of how you are doing. I'm aiming to get mine to the optimal levels of 70-90, it's now into the 50s.

  • Mine was 88 but Endo has told me it needs to be well over 100 and plus to be good. He has put me on Iron supplements.

  • wow, over 100? I have to be careful, I had breast cancer and am at high risk for it coming back. Too much "free" Iron is bad for that. Also, and maybe you know, that someone who's ferritin lab results show higher levels can mean inflammation.

    Just be careful, maybe I'll look more into this. I got my info from "Stop the Thyroid Madness" web site...on what is optimal.

    I also have Restless Leg Syndrome and learned Iron levels have something to do with it. Ferritin levels under 50, often bring out symptoms.

  • Hypothyroidism caused my Restless Legs Syndrome.

  • Hi, my daughter was originally diagnosed as hypothyroid and put on levo but within 4 weeks she was extremely unwell, continuous vomiting, dizzy, high heart rate. Low blood pressure. She was admitted to hospitalvia A&E and within one day was diagnosed with Addison's disease (hypoadrenalism).She was immediately started on hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone and taken off levo. So the actual problem was the adrenals and not the thyroid. Artemiss has also commented on this below.

  • Hi,

    I have just read your post. I am in a quandry at the moment. I have been told I have Addison's disease - hypoadrenalism, and like your daughter have low blood pressure and a high heart rate. I feel very unwell at the moment. However, been advised to take hydrocortisone ( am not sure of the name of the tab - something beginning with Pres...??.

    Anyway, what really confuses me is that I had really bad exzema for a long, long time.....I took high levels of Betnovate and other steroid and hydrocortisone based creams and tabs.

    My TSH level is 4.5 (which as you know is too high. I take thyroid.s which maybe helping? I was taking Levothyroxine - 50mg which made me ill.

    I also have B12 injection every 8 wks, but due to the fab support of this site now administer B12 more regular.

    What I am asking is what to do next? I need to get myself right because my daughter who is 15 has similar issues.

    Please help,


  • This article explains it nicely. stopthethyroidmadness.com/a...

    I think often stress builds up and causes adrenal exhaustion.

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