Blood test results and understanding them

Hello everyone

I am new to this site so please be patient with me! I have had very low iron high, high cholesterol, brain fog, exhausted all the time. At the time I have put the tiredness down to having a stressful full time job, 3 kids and very short menstrual cycles (21 days). The doctor recently tested me for thyroid and I have come back with the below results:

Thyroid function test (X77Wg)

Serum TSH level (XaELV) -7.51 mIU/L [0.34 - 5.6]

Serum free T4 level (XaERr)11.50 pmol/L [7.5 - 21.1]

I was told that I have borderline underactive thyroid and am going for another blood test on Thursday.

The toughest thing is the brain fog and exhaustion. I have good days and bad days but its not easy. I am not on any medication as the moment and to be honest I have always been adverse to taking medication.

So my questions are:

What do my blood test results me?

Can I hold off taking medication?

Are there any alternatives I can consider?

Does the brain fog get any better?

If I take medication, will I have to pay for this as I work F/T?

Should I tell my work that I have this or not? I'm worried about how my manager will view me?

Sorry for all the questions, but I am worried and confused by all of this.

Thank you so much

Sonia

4 Replies

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  • Your blood test results tell you that your thyroid is not working properly, and that your thyroid hormone is low. The TSH is a pituitary hormone, which stimulates the thyroid gland. The higher it is, the more it is pushing the thyroid to make hormone, but the thyroid isn't responding very well, for some reason.

    Actually, doctors know very little about thyroid, and don't understand the meaning of the words 'border-line'. You are not border-line, one is actually hypo the minute your TSH hits 3. And you have symptoms. If you were really border-line, you wouldn't have symptoms.

    I would not hold off taking the 'medication' if I were you, because you're only going to get worse. You need thyroid hormone to live, and if there's not enough in your body, all sorts of things can go wrong, leading to other, more serious diseases. Your doctor will give you levothyroxine - also known as T4 - which is not a medication in the usual sense of the word, it is a hormone. And is just replacing the hormone your gland can no-longer make.

    No, there are no alternatives, if by that you mean something other than thyroid hormone replacement. There is no substitute for hormones. However, you can improve their efficacity and reduce symptoms by optimising your nutrients. You need to get your vit D, vit B12, folate and ferritin tested, first.

    Yes, the brain-fog does get better when your dose of thyroid hormone is high enough. You will be starting on a low dose - which probably won't appear to do anything to begin with, but we have to go slowly. After six weeks, you should get tested again, and your dose increased by 25 mcg. This process should continue until all your symptoms are gone.

    No, if you live in the UK, you won't have to pay for it, all prescriptions are free for people with hypothyroidism. Ask your doctor for a form to fill in.

    Whether you tell your employer or not is entirely up to you. However, it's quite possible he will not understand the effect this has on you. People who do not have the disease rarely understand.

    Please don't apologise for the questions - ask as many as you like. If you don't ask questions, you don't learn, and there is a lot to take in! It is very confusing, and no point asking your doctor, because he probably doesn't understand much himself. That's why we're here. :)

  • Thank you for your response, it was very informative.

    I hadn't realised that the medication was a hormone replacement. That certainly makes me feel a lot better about taking it. As I am having a blood test on Thursday, I will wait until I speak to the doctor to ask for the other tests as well. I am not sure what they are checking this week and if they will look into the other issues.

    I think I am going to wait for the blood test results and then decide if I speak to work. Its the tiredness that I struggle with the most at the moment and as I have been on iron tablets for at least a year with no real difference, I hope that the medication will help

    thanks again

    Sonia

  • Perhaps your dose of iron isn't high enough? Are you taking vit C with it, to increase absorption?

    If they will not test your nutrients, you could have them done privately. Details on the TUK main page. :)

  • make sure that when you go for your blood test it is as early as possible in the morning and that you have not had breakfast or anything to drink (water is OK). Not fasting and late in the day testing affects your test result. If you are put on levothyroxine, do not take the medication 24 hours before any subsequent blood tests. (take your dose after the test)

    You might as well ask at the blood session this week if they will do the other tests, Vit B12, Vit D, ferritin and folate at the same time, saves further waiting. If they only test your TSH and T4 then think about getting private tests. You can do a finger prick test at home using a kit from Blue Horizon (see Thyroid UK website) there is one test that will do full thyroid panel and antibodies as well as vitamins.

    Hope they put you on medication and you soon feel a bit better. I was lucky to be diagnosed with TSH around 6 and know how awful you will be feeling with TSH over 7. The brain fog is the worst.

    What I can tell you is that you will need to educate yourself about thyroid issues and this site is great for advice and info. The ignorance anong docs and nurses beggars belief.

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