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Thyroid UK
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Please can anyone tell me what tsh means

Hi all

So I'm new to this thyroid stuff, I was put on levothyroxine 8 weeks ago 50mg a day my level was 7.9 I went to have my follow up blood test and they tested my tsh level too my thyroid level the dr said had come back to normal 13.5 but my tsh level had gone through ththe roof so I was upped to 100mg a day when I asked her to explain she said she didn't understand all the figures and was just going on what the computer said so hoping someone ca explain what it all does please

3 Replies

Welcome to our forum and it is all so strange to us when first diagnosed. Most of us wouldn't know where our thyroid gland was in our body.

First of all it is a big learning curve. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone:-

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland to produce and release thyroid hormones.

When the thyroid gland begins to produce less hormones, the TSH attempts to stimulate it by sending out more so the TSH rises.


You should have a blood test around every 6 to 8 weeks, usually 6 weeks when first diagnosed. You have a blood test each time. If your TSH has risen since you've first been on levothyroxine, your dose is too low and it should be increased by 25mcg around every six weeks till you feel much better. Our body needs thyroid hormones in order for us to function normally. It does take a while to get to the optimum amount in which we feel much better.

When your next blood test is due and for all others make the earliest appointment and fast. You can drink water. Allow about 24 hours between your last dose of levo and the test and take levo afterwards. Ask for your Vitamin B12, Vit D, iron, ferritin and folate to be checked as we can be deficient and everything has to be at an optimum level.

Always get a print-out from the surgery of your blood test results with the ranges and post if you have a query.

Unfortunately modern-day doctors appear ignorant about the function of the thyroid gland and we have to read and learn for ourselves in order to recover our health. Some mistakenly think that when we're given levo and as soon as the TSH comes anywhere in the range their job is done and they stop increasing our hormones (levo). That's not the case as most of us feel much better when the TSH is around 1 or lower and some need it suppressed but doctors think that suppressed means we will have a heart attack. If at any time you feel symptoms returning you have to have a blood test for your thyroid hormones. They usually only do the very basic, i.e. TSH and T4 but it is necessary to know our Free T3 (after we've been on meds for a while and we don't feel much better) as it is T3 which is the active hormone required in all of our receptor cells. T4 is inactive and has to convert to T3.

Thousands feel fine on levo when at an optimum and I hope you do too.


TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH stimulates your thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones, known as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). It is the T3 that actually does the job of regulating your metaoblism. Most of the hormone is in the T4 form and the body is able to convert it to T3 as it needs it. When they do blood tests they measure TSH, fT3 and fT4, where the 'f' stands for 'free', i.e. not bound to proteins. If your thyroid gland starts to pack in the pituitary produces more TSH to try and stimulate the thyroid gland more. So, a failing thyroid gland is spotted by high TSH levels.

Levothyroxine (L-T4) is prescribed to replace the thyroxine that you can no longer produce. I suspect your doctor has got the numbers a bit mixed up and that the 7.9 and 13.5 figures relate to the fT4 levels. The new prescription of 100 mcg levothyroxine seems reasonable. However, I would go to your doctor and ask for full copies of your blood test results, the receptionist can print them off. This is more important as your doctor clearly hasn't got a clue. Maybe you could see a different doctor in the future?

A lot of the patients on this forum have much more complicated problems so please don't get too confused or worried about all the technical stuff you may see.

1 like

Why would anyone trust a doctor who said she didn't understand the test results and just did what the computer said? Continuous professional development anyone?


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