I was diagnosed with autoimmune hypothyroidism in June – very unexpectedly, I’d gone to the doctor with what I thought at the time was something else. I was suffering from stomach pains. As I didn’t really have any other major symptoms that screamed hypothyroidism, other than some fatigue, and my TSH was 5.24, the doctor gave me the choice as to whether I wanted to try a trial of levothyroxine; either that or wait for TSH to go above 10. I decided to go with it as I don’t want symptoms to get worse.
My iron levels were also low, which was what initially triggered the blood tests being done for thyroid:
Iron: 9.4 mcg/l (11-30)
Transferrin saturation 11% (16-50)
I started a trial dose of Levothyroxine of 25mcg . I also took iron supplements (210mg twice a day = 69mg elemental iron) for 10 weeks prior to the next blood test, taking a week off the week prior to the test. I took advice from other posters on this forum and took B supplements, vitamin D/K, Magnesium, and vitamin C with the iron
Anyway, I had another blood test after 6-7 weeks my iron has barely changed:
Iron: 11 mcg/l (11-30)
Transferrin saturation 15% (16-50)
It is in range as my GP pointed out, but it is right at the bottom after taking all those supplements. My TSH has gone from 5.24 to 4.14. Not much of a change at all. I feel no different to a couple of months ago!
My doctor previously sent me for a gastric endoscopy and then ultrasound for the stomach pains, with nothing untoward found. She has now offered to send me to a GI specialist. She is also puzzled as to why I don’t seem to be hanging in to iron very well. When she asked how I’d like to proceed, I suggested that I thought it might be hypothyroidism causing the stomach issues, and also affecting my ability to absorb iron, so my levothyroxine dose should be increased. I don’t think she was particularly convinced, but she did say she liked to get patients’ TSH down to 1-2. If that is the case, then why didn’t she offer to increase the dose before I asked?! She was going to continue with the current 25mcg dose and treat the stomach issue as something separate.
Anyway, I’m pleased as I came out of the surgery with what I wanted, an increased dose of levothyroxine (50mcg for now). I declined the option of being referred to a GI specialist for now. But it is quite disconcerting, as many others on this forum have pointed out, that GPs don’t seem to connect the dots when it comes to different symptoms, and want to treat them all as separate, unrelated conditions. I honestly feel like I know a lot more about the condition than the doctor (I’ve done a lot of reading since my diagnosis, both on these forums and published studies). Anyway, I know I’m lucky in that my doctor did listen to what I wanted to do, as I’ve seen that others on this forum have been dismissed and treated badly by their GPs
In my opinion, I think getting the thyroid issue optimally treated should be the first priority, and then see how that leaves me feeling.
Anyway, other than wanting to vent these views (sorry for the long post), my actual question was related to iron. Is it unusual to take iron supplements for 10 weeks and see so little change in levels? How long will I have to take supplements to see any change? Should I up the dose from 2x 210mg tablets a day, to 3x tablets a day? (The enclosed leaflet says 2-3 tablets to treat anaemia). Will my iron levels ever improve whilst my TSH is raised?
I have posted blood results below from June, and also the most recent test just done at the end of August.
PS. thank you to everyone who posts on this forum, the information and advice has been invaluable to me, so glad I found you all