Question about T3

Hi, I am a newby here and have been reading a lot of the posts and recognizing a lot of my own problems. I have quite a few of the symptoms of underactive thyroid, buy my MD has always said the

TSH was fine and I have no problems. Just recently, I had a blood test for a complete thyroid panel My numbers are as follows. TSH 1.42, T4 9.7, and T3 at 53 (of a range of 80 --200). The MD's office told me that the T3 and T4 would "balance each other out", and really had no interest in explaining things to me further. Again they stated that I do not have any problem. I am wondering if such a thing is possible.

28 Replies

  • What a load of rubbish - T4 and T3 balance each other out? T4 is inactive and needs to be converted to T3 for it to be used by your body. Your T3 is WELL below the range - no wonder you feel ill.

    There could be lot of reasons why this is the case, but first of all, could you tell us what the range is on the T4? is it high or low?

  • Thank you, thank you. My doctor's office made me feel like a fool. The T4 is 9.7 mg/dL of a range of 4.8--13.9.

  • Well, the T4 is not exactly brilliant, but it not below the range, which the T3 is. So, conversion isn't good. Why might this be? Well, you could find out if any of the following are low, or in the bottom half of the ranges: Iron, ferritin, folate, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12. Any of these, if low, could hinder the conversion process.

    So, that would be my suggestion for your next step in your search for answers: have these checked.

    Then come back with those figures. If any are low, supplementing to get them nice and high in the range could be your answer.

    Do you do a lot of exercise? this can have a detrimental effect on T4-T3 conversion, too.

    Marie XXX

  • Thank you for the info. According to the lab work my Vit. D level is in the "insufficient" range (21.1 of 30 to 100 NG/ML) and my iron level is low at 19.9% of a 20 to 50 range. Ferritin is 53 of an 8 to 252 range. B12 was not tested. the Physician's Assistant I saw did not address any of these values. Just said everything was OK. Ashamed to say I have not exercised much lately, I suffer from a lot of fatigue even though I am retired and not working.

  • It is worth trying to get theses deficiencies addressed because they are going to give you symptoms even if you did not have a thyroid deficiency, and if you factor that in as well, it's probably a miracle that you actually get out of bed at all!

    Another thing which can cause conversion problems is low selenium.

    Don't be ashamed of not exercising, it is your body's way of trying to protect itself because a lot of exercise when you are low in so many things could really do more harm than good.

    Walking is one of the best exercises anyone can do, and also it seems that simple things like making sure that we get up and move around at least every quarter to half an hour is very beneficial, especially for the heart. Most women tend to do that anyway, don't they!

    But do see if you can get those things sorted out, it may well be what you need to get that T4 converting to T3. When that happens, then the thyroid will produce more to replace it and that could kickstart your metabolism.

    This is just a starting point in your journey to find out how to feel better.

  • Thanks, I am really upset that my doctor has not addressed any of these deficiencies. It looks like its time to find a new MD.

  • You have that privilege, do you? whereabouts are you? Here we have to have a GP who is in our 'catchment' area. I tried to change recently because I was unhappy with my GP and was told that the surgery I am with is the only one which serves this area. I changed doctors within the practice, but the 'rules' they follow apply to all GPs in the practice. At least the one I see now has better manners, though he still will not prescribe anything other than Levothyroxine.

  • I am in Pennsylvania, in the United States. I guess it is a privilege. I just have to find a doctor who is in my "Network" or the insurance won't pay.

  • Lol. There's always a catch...

  • Welcome to the forum. To aid the conversion of T4 to T3 you need to get the vits and minerals sorted. Have a retest then as doing that may wrk improve your readings. If FT4 and FT3 reading are still low I would try an increase of your T 4 medication and see if you are converting better, it may well bring both readings up. If not and the FT4 is high in the range and the FT3 isn't then you probably need to add T3.

  • Thank you. Unfortunately, I am not taking any thyroid meds at all. My MD says I am fine and I have never been diagnosed with thyroid problems despite all of my complaints, and test results. I am going to start working on the vitamin levels on my own, though.

  • I would look at cortisol levels too , low cortisol can cause significant conversion to RT3 when on any T4 containing meds

  • That might be just a tad Advanced for someone just starting out on this journey, Stuart. Best to address the nutritional deficiencies first, and if that doesn't work, then move of to other things.

  • Okey dokey

    When I first came here , it was mentioned to me was actually my problem in the end - just a thought 😄

  • Well, one step at a time. A lot of people do have adrenal problems, but not everybody. And it's possible that beginners don't even know what adrenals are! Not saying Chris doesn't, but she is a beginner. And her problem could just be nutritional deficiencies. Often is. Best to rule that out first. We don't want to scare her, do we! lol (Gawd! I sound like a nursery teacher! lol Sorry about that.)

    By the way, was your problem adrenals?

  • I hear you 👍😄

    Yes , my adrenals are in a bit of a state from years of undiagnosed hypo and trying to add thyroid meds on poor adrenals has been a hardship, it's a new battle with Endo as they only recognise Addison's or cushings ! You couldn't make it up!

  • Oh, I know! Some doctors, when you mention adrenals, just sit there gazing into space muttering 'adrenals, adrenals' as if they're trying to remember where they left them! lol

    My last idiot of a doctor told me catagorically that there was absolutely no connection between the thyroid and the adranals! Absolutely not!!! Although, he said, there was a connection between kidneys and thyroid, which is why mine nearly packed up. Which is funny, because at first they said it was because I didn't drink water (what did they think I drank? Gin???) Then it was due to my heart medication (which was true, it was written on the PIL) and then, suddenly, it became the fault of my thyroid! Or lack of it. They just make it up as they go along!!!

  • It's amazing ! I have no words some days , I laugh like a phsyco path at them as they make up their responses as they go along !

  • lol :D

  • reading this and other posts I am constantly surprised that you all know so much! Ive never been told about any tsh levels etc . Iwas simply diagnosed with an underactive thyroid after a blood test for something else and have been taking 150mg of Thyroxin for years. I have insomnia, am hyper active never put on weight etc and all they say is its "paradoxical symptoms! I seem to be experiencing another NHS world !

  • There are a lot of people who do well on levothyroxine (also referred to as levo or T4), sometimes for decades. It is the people who don't do well on levo, or those who struggle to get diagnosed in the first place, who find they have to learn lots about the thyroid and what affects it.

    If I felt well I would (probably) never have developed an interest in the subject. There are more fun things to do in life!


  • Have you tried taking less? In fact with those symptoms I would take none at all for a day or two and see if it helps. If it does, you could go and see your doctor - they are very scared of making you hyper because it can in the extreme case give you a heart attack, so they will take you seriously. It takes 6-8 weeks for the thyroxine level to stabilise in your body after a change of dose, so taking 2-3 days off should be enough to let you know whether you are overmedicated. Alternatively if your symptoms improve you should then try taking say 100 or 125mcg every day and see whether that works for you. It's better for you to experiment and find your ideal dose than to be reliant on the doctor and the lab results. You can feel your symptoms, they can't.

  • well WHen I came off in the past without telling them , I felt fine (still as sleepless, but more or less the way Ive always felt!) when the time came for my blood test they were phoning from the surgery saying results had come back, worst they had ever seen bla bla and that's when they asked me to sign a disclaimer in case I died! Considering I never had any symptoms in the first place, and it was only a chance blood test, I feel that Im the last person in the world who has an underactive thyroid and I don't need any thyroxine! Ive never come across anyone else in the same situation . I asked for a referral to an Endicrinologist a few years ago and he said the same "paradoxical symptoms"! Help and thanks!

  • Weird! It sounds as though the connection between your Thyroid and your pituitary is not working as it should. Out of interest does your doctor just check TSH or have you got results for FT4 and FT3 too?

  • Ive no idea , I only read about all this on here, he never tells me. Im sure you are right and my lifelong extreme insomnia is a factor . Im certainly going to take a keener interest in my results now!

  • Fidelis, I'm sure you've read this on here before, but I'll remind you : always, always ask for a print-out of your results after any blood test. It is your legal right to have it. Never just take your doctors word for anything thyroid, always get the figures, because they don't know a whole lot about it! You could even ask for a print-out of all your blood tests from the beginning. They probably won't like it, and they might make a small charge for ink and paper (but it should only be a small charge!). If they ask you why, say it's for your own records. Don't be put off by them saying 'oh you won't understand them' (aka don't worry your pretty little head about that, dear). If you don't understand them, someone here will, and it is your legal right to have them : your body, your blood, your rules!

    Hugs, Grey

  • Thank you everyone for all of the great input. I should have stated that I am not on any medications for the thyroid at all. My doctor just says I am OK.

    I started a few years ago demanding my own copies of routine diagnostic and blood tests be sent to me. Then I compare my results with info from the internet. This, plus all of the symptoms I constantly complain of, is why I am concerned. The people on this forum seem to be quite knowledgeable, and I truly appreciate all of the help. I have made an appointment on my own with an Endocrinologist. But, alas, it is not till May.

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