Hypo in France and highly symptomatic? Lost as to options for hypo treatment/medicine?

I have recently moved to France, and I am hypothyroid. I have had 2 very rough months recently..it seems if my hypo symptoms have kicked in?

I have been putting on the weight, feeling tired and fatigued despite napping and getting 7-8 hrs sleep, incredibly cold feet and hands-worse than ever as it has felt like they are frozen, joint pain, and severe, constant bloating despite being careful with diet.

I recently have had my blood work done, and per my general doctor my thyroid ranges are normal.

Could someone please offer me their opinion? I have been taking 75mg euritox-same as levothyroxine.

Here are my results:

T3 Libre free 2,18 ng/l (2.00-4.40)

T4 Libre free 8,7 ng/l (6.1-11.2)

TSH 3G 2,740 mUI/I (.40-3.50)

Vit B12 678 pg/ml (180-914)

Folates 15,42 ng/ml

Sodium 135 (136-145)

Ferritine 46 ng/ml

Also, in france is there any attention given to the other hormones besides T4?

Are they other thyroid medicines available besides levothyroxine? I have been on the same medicine for 4 yrs but I have never been symptom free and now my symptoms are uncomfortable!😰

Any help is appreciated as I start my new life in france with hypo.

Thank you kindly!!

56 Replies

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  • Hi there, maybe you just need an increase in Eutirox? I have recently returned from a year in abroad and was using Eutirox there.Prior to that was on MP levo in uk. I noticed that it didnt seem as potent for me and raised it slightly till symptoms went away. I was fortunate tho since private tests for complete thyroid screen there were only 46 euros,so it was simple to be sure what was going on. I also take 75mcg.

    May not be the same for you tho. Good luck with new life in France- hope its good.

  • From your results, you would seem to need an increase in dose to 100 mcg. Your T3 and T4 are low in range, so there is definitely room for some tweaking. Is your new doctor easy to deal with? I would suggest asking for a trial for a few months and see if he will agree. 75 is a low dose in any case. What were you on in England?

    Your ferritin is also a bit low. Would be better around 70. Ask your doctor if you should supplement for a month or so.

    Obviously you will be learning a whole new set of thyroid rules, depending upon how the French view it. We have a house there and I have met one person on Thyroxine who says she has never been offered any T3, so you may struggle to get it prescribed. I also understand that NDT is illegal. I hope you get your increase and start to improve soon, so you can enjoy your new life.

  • I also have just been diagnosed here in France,what is the t3 test and what is not,do I need to take iodine please,I can't speak French ,and have been feeling very rought,with hair in a very bad state general pains every where just tired,

    My proteine c reactive ( crp ) was10.93.

    French doctor said to come back in three months,have you any advice please on what test I need,or what I don't need,

    Thank you for your post was so helpfull ,hope you are feeling good,

  • Okay, I'm learning about all of this so bare with me...until the other experts wrtie. :)

    Basically, first thing first, to start you just need your blood taken and lab tests done? Has your Dr done that?

    You should post your results if you have them!

    What has the Dr prescribed?

  • I also live in France and my GP said my results were normal. I asked for advice on a french thyroid forum and someone recommended an Endocrinologist. She immediately gave me levothyroxine and further down the line she gave me T3.

    Where are you in France, if by chance you are near me I can give you her details?

  • Plus you can purchase T4 (Levothyrox) and T3 (Cynomel) from the pharmacist without a prescription - at least you could when I lived there a couple of years ago.

  • No you can't! I've lived here for a long long time and T4 and T3 are prescription only. Maybe your pharmacist didn't know what they were, but I can assure you that that is not the general rule.

  • How strange, I managed to buy it last year at a number of pharmacies. Maybe just lucky!

  • I think you were. However, maybe they thought you were a tourist who had just run out. I doubt it would work if you went in for it on a regular basis.

  • Yes I think you are probably right. My local pharmacy know I am on Levo so happily hand it over. The other pharmacies I tried were far more reluctant and would only give me one pack of Cynomel. Btw I wasn't storing up supplies, my sister-in-law is on T3 through self-medicating and needed some. I have not really tried it as I feel pretty OK on just T4 (although I have just increased from 75 to 100mcg - probably just winter giving me hypo symptoms - roll on summer).

  • Well, all I can say is, I can't imagine any of my local pharmacies (dragon's lairs!) handing over anything without a prescription. I couldn't even get vit D3! The dragon in question gave me a long lecture about how dangerous it is (?) and practically accused me of being senile for asking for it! I told her I could buy it in Belgium with no problem. She bellowed at me, 'in Belgium they can do what they like, mais ici c'est la France, madame!!!'. I swear I heard the Marseillaise playing in the background! lol

  • Lovely anthem though, isn't it. When I lived out there, we were given twice weekly French lessons (courtesy of the local government) and I had to learn The Marseillaise - it really is a very 'stirring' anthem. Wow, getting 'home sick' now - can't wait to get back there at Easter x

  • Yes, I love singing it. I had to learn if for a play I was in - 'Madame Sans-gene', do you know it? We performed in in a chateau on the day of... can't remember - centenary? bicentenary? of the fall of the Bastille. There were cĂ©lĂ©brations everywhere that day, but there were also bomb scares. Someone had threatened to blow up the chateau we were in, but nobody told the cast! So we all blithely carried on! They told us the next day. Wow! lol

  • Merci beaucoup for all the help. I'm near Manosque.

    Hennerton- can you please tell me how you were able to understand my results?

    How can one figure out if you should increase or decrease any of your hormones especially if they are in the supposed normal range?? I would love to understand this better as I feel so helpless...

    plus I must be my own advocate since everyone always says you are in the ranges...uft!

    Thank you.

  • Where is Manosque? Is it anywhere near Paris? There's a top hormone doc in Paris.

    I live in the Oise, and there's no-one round me that knows anything about thyroid, so I self-treat.

    NDT is illegal in France, as is HGH - but you'll probably never find out if you need that because they don't test for it!

    However, you can get T3. Some doctors will prescribe it, some won't. But try asking for it. Ask for Cynomel. You might strike Lucky.

    As others have said, your Frees are far too low, and your TSH is too high. Your iron is too low - which will make it difficult for you to convert - and your B12 could be higher. Try supplementing with some form of iron - Solgar's gentle iron, perhaps - and Jarrows sub-lingual Methylcobalamin, you can get them on Amazon, saves battling with pharmacists who are likely to demand to know why you want them! lol

    Doctors and endos in France, in general, are very much like doctors and endos in England. In general, they know nothing about thyroid, and even less about vitamins and minerals. You might strike Lucky, but go prepared to be disappointed. How is your French? It can be difficult when you're struggling with the language. But there are several of us here who live in France, so there's always help to be had, be it with the language or the blood results, or anything else. You are not alone!

    How you know if you should increase or decrease is like this... TSH should be near the bottom of the range once you are on thyroid hormone replacement. So, if it's over one, you need an increase. FT4 should be in the top 75% of the range, so if it's below mid-range, you need to increase your dose. FT3 should be up near the top of the range - some people even need it slightly over. So, if it's lower, and you're feeling bad, your dose needs increasing. If your FT4 is higher in its range than the FT3 in its, then you aren't converting properly, so you need some T3 (Cynomel).

    So, how does that work out for you? The FT4 is just slightly over mid-range (mid-range being 8.65. The FT3 is a good way below mid-range (mid-range being 3.4). So, a) you're not taking enough T4 and b) you're not converting. That could be due to the low iron, but some Cynomel would be a good thing, anyway.

    Vitamin B12 shoud be at least 600, but better up the top of the range. You can't over-dose with B12 because it's water soluable. But if you supplement, take a B complex with it, because they all work together. And that will bring your folate level up. But make sure you get a complex with methylfolate rather than folic acid.

    Ferritin should be at least mid-range. You also need to get your vit D tested because that is usually low in hypos. As is magnesium, but I doubt you'll get that tested. Just try taking some and see how you feel.

    You might want to add a bit more salt to your diet, because the adrenals need fat. And you want your adrenals to stay strong because you need them to be able to use the thyroid hormone you're taking. Also take lots of vitamin C. It helps you to absorb the T4 you're taking, and is essential to take with iron if you want to absorb it and not become constipated! And the adrenals need it too.

    As to the other hormones, if your endo won't test them, see a gynecologist, she might be amenable to testing your sex hormones.

    May I ask which French forum you went on? There are some dreadful French ones with people giving terrible advice! The only decent one I knew has disappeared.

    Well, hope that's helped and is not too much info in one go. Good luck with your new endo!

    Hugs, Grey

  • Manosque (Provençal Occitan: ManĂČsca in classical norm or Manosco in Mistralian norm) is the largest town and commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department in southeastern France. However, it is not the prĂ©fecture (capital) of the department, which resides in the smaller town of Digne-les-Bains. Manosque is located at the far eastern end of the Luberon near the Durance river.

    Thanks Wiki :-)

  • OK. So a long way from Paris, then. Thanks, Rod. ;)

  • Grey,

    Wow!!* Where have you been the past 5 years???? I REALLY could have used you. Please, I am blown away as to how knowledgeable you are!!! Please tell me what do I need to become so savy as you are??? All this time, I have been told I was fine and wasn't agh!! Could you kindly tell me if this may have caused me to drastically lose my hair? Could it because I was never treated adequately??? Aren't endos suppose to tell me what you told me? Thank you so incredibly much! I am goning to tell me endo about your thoughts on friday. Shall I call you Dr. Grey??

  • Well, I've been here. lol Except that I wasn't around much in 2013, I was too ill.

    What do you need to do to know as much as me? Spend hours and hours and hours on the computer reading, and talking to people. But, also, I learnt a lot from Dr D, because he likes informed patients and is a natural teacher.

    Yes, they told you you were fine, because they don't know any better. I've had plenty of doctors like that.

    It could very well be why you lost your hair, but it could have been because of other things, too. Low iron causes hair loss, and some B vitamins. Also, Levo can cause hair-loss - it says so on the PIL.

    So, getting some T3 into you, and some vits and mins, could be very good for you hair. But, in the meantime, take good care of your scalp. Every morning, brush your hair over your head, bending forward, head down, brush until the scalp tingles, get the blood flowing to the folicles. When you wash your hair, give your scalp a good massage, to keep the skin supple. If the scalp tightens, it will be more difficult for the new hair to grow.

    I do know what it's like to have hair like that. Last summer, as a result of my illness the previous year, all my hair fell out on top, I just had thin whispy hair around the side of my head, about the level of my ears. I looked like that blond butler from 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' (one of my favourite films!). But it's growing now I'm taking my pills!

    Endos possibly would tell you all I told you - if they knew! But most of them haven't got a clue! And they usually don't take kindly to people telling them their job, either! lol So, I wouldn't mention any of that on your first appt. Wait and see how amenable he is to new ideas, and what his own ideas are, first. He might be willing to treat you the way you need to be treated. Play it by ear - but for goodness sake don't call me doctor Grey - or doctor Goose - he'll think I'm something out of Grey's Anatomy! lol No, wait and see how it goes. I look forward to hearing all about it!

  • Dr Goose ha, ha.

    Thanks again. I managed to bump my appt to this Fri since I am so fatigued and bothered by all of this. I will definitely keep you posted and I will have my notes ready in french, especially your thoughts. I pray I will get a modern, open minded endo!!

    4 days left, bof!

    I want my energy and old self back!!

    Hug back to you!!!

  • :)

  • By the way, I have started taking Vit D 5,000 IU everyday. I will add back my B12 solgar sublingual 1000 ug until I can find B12 with B complex. I am also taking Vit C everday 1000 mg wth zinc along with a complete multivitamin solgar VM 75.

    Due to dramatic hair loss approx 2-3 years ago, I began studying everything. I noticed when I had a full head of hair my ferritin was at 80. Upon severe thinning of hair and hair loss my ferritine was in the 20s..since then I convinced my Drs that although my iron levels were normal, everything directed me to increasing the ferritine. Long story short, it took me 2 yrs of iron to get me to 59. Then, I was told to stop it for fear of hurting my liver. That was in August, now it has dropped to 46, and I feel completely spent!

    I'm afraid to go without the iron help but I also don't want to tax my liver. My hair is pathetic. It is slightly below the shoulders but it hasn't grown more than 3 inches on top. It is a mess. I try to tell myself...it will grow but it doesn't especially on top. My daughter and family have told me that it looks like I have undergone chemotheraphy. I digress.

  • Oh! Just seen this comment. Sorry, I didn't mean a B12 with a B complex in the same tablet - although if you take a B complex, there is B12 in it, but not enough. I meant a B12 tablet and a B complex tablet. It's the B12 you want in large quantities, and the B complex to balance the Bs because they all work together. Hope I've explained that more clearly now. lol Sorry.

    Did your doctor think there was a particular reason that iron might hurt your liver? Do you have a particularly fragile liver? If not, taking the suppléments won't hurt it unless you over-dose - i.e. taking so much that it goes over the top of the range. There, if I remember my ranges correctly, you're not even mid-range, so I doubt you are doing any harm. And if you don't have enough iron, your aren't going to be able to use the T4 your taking, so it's all a bit of a waste of time! I do wish they'd get their facts straight! Are you still seeing that same doctor? If not, ask again. Ask the endo to test it and what he thinks about iron suppléments, and then make up your own mind.

  • Oh, and it's always good to ask 'why', and if they can't come up with any sort of explanation, ignore them! lol

  • Dr. Grey,

    I just wanted to say thank you very much for going out on a limb and telling me your thoughts. In only 2 days since talking to you...I feel SO much better since I have added back my B12 and iron plus Floradix, and my bloating has substantially gone down.


    2 more days left 'til appt. !!

  • You're welcome, Enfrance. Glad to hear you're feeling a bit better! :)

  • Enfrance, it's really weird that I never get notification when you post a comment! Once again, I've only just found the above comment by accident! lol I Don't want you to think I'm ignoring you!

    I Don't know Floradix, so I've just googled it... Weird. Is that supposed to be your source of iron? Well, it does contain iron, but what puzzels me is that it contains spinach. Now, spinach contains lots of iron - we all know that from watching Popeye! lol But it also contains a substance that prevents that iron from being absorbed. Now, I Don't know if all that vit C counteracts that substance, but my question is : does it work? Do you actually know if it raises your iron levels? I would be curious to find out. Also, I find it rather strange that it picks and chooses its B vitamins rather than plonking in the whole lot... Very strange! lol

    Anyway, I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better. But, of course, we now know the outcome of your appointment chez the endo! Sad. Never mind, I'm sure you'll get there without her!

  • Oooh , I finally hot you back. I strongly recommend Floradix!!!

    Spinach...hmm interesting???

    Honestly, dedpite taking lots of iron supplements..it wasnt until adding Floradix did I see my ferritin actually go up!!

    Please see my other posts as I strongly value your opinion!!!!

  • Well, in that case, I shall have to try it! lol Thanks for the tip.

    I'll keep a look out for your other posts.

  • A little more history on the Floradix. Apprx 2-3 years I ran into a lady at an herbal store. She explained that she had had many problems with hemmorhages thus a very low iron count. She told me that despite practically overdosing on the iron precribed by her doctor-her iron count wouldn't increase. I guess because the over the counter iron was much more difficult for her body to assimilate. Then, she took Floradix which is completely natural...and it really worked, her iron increased. I took heed and added it to my iron supplementation and bingo, my ferritine started moving up much more quickly than without it!! For now, its definitely a keeper!

  • OK, well, I'll remember that! Be Worth a try. Thank you.

  • Hi,liked your comments I know nothing about the results,and what to look out for,as I said,just told my crp was 10 . 95mg and French doctor put me on levothyrox 25 mg,I read your advise and thought it was very informative,and you also recommended this site,I live in Paris,I have been feeling very tired, so many aches and pains and hair in a terrible way,but dident want to complain. And dident say anything to the doctor,as he had done just a routeen test,he just told me I had to take tyrosine for life,any information welcome,and thank you

  • Hi Murphy, you live in Paris! Wow! Not far from me. There are some good doctors in Paris.

    Do you have a copy of your results? If so, can you post them and we can see what's going on.

    I very much doubt that your docctor put you on 25 mcg levo due to your CRP reading, you must have had a TSH test, too. But if you post them all, we will be able to sort them out and explain.

    Did the doctor really say you need to take tyrosine for life? That would be very unusual. Are you sure he didn't say take Levo for life? If you have a thyroid problem, you will need to take it for life. But we really need to see those labs! OK? :)

  • Oh, and Murphy, 3 months is too long! Go back in six weeks and get a test, and insist on an increase, because 25 is only a starting dose and it's not good to stay on it for too long!

  • I think you are right,think he said levo,he was speaking in French

  • ProteineC reactive. 10.93 mg

    Sodium plasma toque. 135 mg

    Potassium plasmaic. 4.4 mg


    Transaminases got (as at). 30 ui / 1

    Transaminases Gpt(slat) 37 ui/1

    Gamma g-t. 37 ui/1

    Hot monologue

    Tsh ultra sensible 6.65 mui/1

    I haven't much knowledge about blood tests,as it's written in French and my doctor doesent speak English, my husband translates every thing,I also dident tell the gp how unwell I felt,just thought I was depressed

    Are these results any good,

  • Love your picture too,thanks for the advice

  • You're welcome!

    Well, the only one that pertains to thyroid on that list is TSH. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It's a hormone made in the pituitary that does what it says - stimulates the thyroid gland to make more hormone. When the thyroid is struggling, the theory is that the TSH rises. Doesn't always work like that, but in your case, it does. So, that means that you have low thyroid hormones. Of course, it would be easier if they just tested the thyroid hormones - FT4 and FT3. But... ours not to reason why! However, in France, doctors will usually test them if you ask, so ask your husband to ask for T4 libre and T3 libre. That will give you a better idea of your thyroid status.

    If you have a thyroid problem, one of the symptoms is depression, so Don't let them get away with saying you're 'just depressed'! Anti-depressants will probably make you feel worse, so best not to take them.

    Next time you see the doctor - and it should be six weeks after you started the 25 mcg Levo (in French that sounds like LĂ©votiiiiiiiiirox! lol) - ask him to test your iron (fer), ferritin (same), vit B12, vit D, and folate (same). All these have to be at least mid-range - B12 top of the range - for you to be able to use the hormone you're giving it. Levo is T4, and it has to be converted to T3 which is the hormone your body needs. And when you're hypo, conversion is often more difficult than for other people.

  • That a girl!! Great work!!😄

  • :)

  • Hi grey goose,thank you so very much for explaining it to me,I finally understand about levo t4 and the need for t3, my vitim d was low and have been prescribed vit d for a year now and it's better,

    I will ring and make an appointment in four weeks time,

    I hope you don't mind I have copied the test you sugested so I don't forget the medical terminology ,

    lol ,I will pretend know all about it,and will feel less intimidated

    It felt so baffling to me

    Thank you so much for caring and giving me your time

    Hope you have a lovely evening,

  • You're welcome, Murphy. If you have any other questions, Don't hesitate to ask. I know how confusing it all is in the beginning.

    Have a lovely evening, yourself! :)

  • Just feeling better now that I understand more about my condition and read about other peoples experiences ,

    Went to pharmacy and bought the supplements that people advised me to use so looking forward to improving in the next few months it would be so good to have my hair nails skin back to normal,

    And have energy and no pain.

    So glad of your advice,good to know we are not alone in this too,

    Just bought a new apartment near Malmsbury

    Wilshire,maybe there is a support group near

    i will try to keep smiling,but don't feel like it much

  • But still living in France too for most of the year,have a three year old grandaughter and another little one on the way in July so will be busy,hence the move to England too.

  • Just know we are all here with you!!!😄😘

  • Bless,how kind you are,

  • Hi there Greygoos. hoping you are enjoying this beautiful weather here in Paris,

    Please I have a question. I am bypoler saw my doctor he said to continue with the mood stabilers,and antidepressants and to take the Levo,he is awaiting my blood results he thinks I will need an increase in my dosage,of Levo

    A bit worried in case they don't interact we'll withLevo,

    Maybe I am being over anxious

    taking a good vitimns and minerals supplement too,

    Best wishes

  • No, I Don't think you're being over-anxious. I think it's a very good question. Unfortunately, I Don't know the answer as I've never had anything much to do with antidepressants. I think you should ask a new question, saying what you said above, and those that do know will answer you.

    I do know that bi-polar and depression, mood-changes and anxiety are all symptoms of low thyroid and that you need to optimise your hormone replacement. And then you probably won't need to take the anti-depressants anymore. :)

  • Thanks for getting back to me so fast,yes I will ask a question,and yes it would be great to be off my antideppresents etc

    Ha ha, you would an amazing doctor,

    You have a great day,

  • I concur!!!😄

  • Thank you, thank you. :)

  • You can't purchase T3 or T4 without a prescription, I have lived in France since 2005 and have never been able to purchase without a prescription.

  • Enfrance, sorry you are miles away from me so can't recommend an Endo. If you can find an Endo near you, you can make your own appointment, you don't need a referral from a GP. I have looked in Pages Jaunes, the link is below.


  • Sorry Enfrance when I tried the link earlier it worked but it isn't working now. Let me know if you want me to try again.

  • Jaie. Thanks for all your help! I have found an endo, so I'm covered let's hope for change!!!! I would love to try using the T3 since I have read such good results about it. I'm also hopeful that a change will grow my hair back???

    My apt is scheduled for the 3rd of March.

    Now, I just have to get past this next week with these annoying symptoms!

  • I am also living in France been just diagnosed with hypotyrism put on 25 levothyrox,told to go back to see him in three months,

    Sorry you haven't been feeling good,sorry I don't have any information about things here,

    I will be asking him to take all the blood tests again, thank you for your question it will help me as well ,

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