Subclinical Hypothyroidism - Question from a newbie

I am finding this forum really interesting as I was told I had Subclinical Hypothyroidism in August last year following blood tests. They tested again in January with similar results. My TSH was 6.5 and Free T4 was 14.3.

My ferritin at 29, seemed low and as I run regularly I started taking Ferroglobin liquid.

Anyway, I asked my new gp for more advise on my thyroid last week - I have suffered with thinning hair for years, and over the last 8 months or so feel my immune system is not what it should be (a couple of viruses have been really hard to shake off). He said we could do with more tests and has referred me to Endocrinology. Hopefully this is a positive first step? Can hypothyroidism affect your immune system? And do my levels sound like I would benefit from medication?

Also, any other runners out there with low thyroid problems? I would hate not to be able to run and at 52, did my first half marathon in March! So, when I'm well - I'm well!

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

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9 Replies

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  • Subclinical hypothyroidism just means that under NICE guidelines you can be refused levo when in reality you already have hypothyroidism.

    If you want to increase your iron level then taking ferroglobin won't cut it. It contains a third of a healthy women's daily dose of iron in each dose. You aren't healthy so need far more than that to get you into the healthy range which trichologists and dermatologists who specialise in trichology say is halfway in the reference range to 100. This means you need to take iron tablets like ferrous sulphate, ferrous fumerate or ferrous bisglycinate (solar gentle iron). It is clear you have a GP who doesn't know about ferritin levels so you are going to have to self medicate. The easiest on the stomach is ferrous bisglycinate - solar gentle iron - which you can get from Amazon. However this is the most expensive. You will need to take 4 a day then retest your ferritin level in 12 weeks which you are going to have to do privately due to the fact your GP doesn't understand ferritin levels.

    Beware lots of endos are diabetes specialists not thyroid specialists and don't listen to patients.

  • I think it is previous gps who have 'ignored' my results. This referral came out of my going to see my new gp because of an infection that has needed antibiotics. I was actually pleased to have been referred and don't understand your comment about endocrinologists - aren't thyroid problems pretty common?

    Thank you for your advise on ferritin. I think my gp wants to get the endocrinologist to see me and then he can support me in the best way possible. A private gp is out if the question for me at the moment I'm afraid.

  • I didn't mention a private GP.

    Iron problems are very common and poorly treated in my experience by the NHS so the best thing to do is both learn about it and also how to treat it yourself especially if you have a GP who has no idea about ferritin levels.

    The majority of doctors including specialists have learnt if a test result is in range they don't need to treat it. This differs from the thinking of patient groups with chronic conditions including thyroid conditions and sports medicine where it is realised people are at their best/healthiest at a particular level with a result range.

    Endos while they are specialists in endocrinology, specialise within that. So most specialise in treating diabetes. Thyroid problems are common but many doctors including endocrinologists are unaware of the impact of insufficient vitamins and minerals on it. In addition they are constrained by NICE guidelines and budget.

    Most posters end up on here due to either doctors treating them in accordance with NICE guidelines, or doctors ignoring their symptoms for years including decades either way they are ill. By doctors I include specialists like endos in this.

  • I should say I run and do other exercise but if my vitamin, iron or thyroid levels aren't optimum I don't bother.

    The reason for this is training puts lots of stress on your body and you can make yourself sicker if you aren't in best health to start with.

    Having low thyroid hormones mucks up your metabolism which in turn mucks up your immune system, and so you will just feel exhausted and are unable to recover even more so if your vitamins and mineral levels aren't optimal.

    Btw you should check your vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D levels as well. You can do this privately via Medichecks or Blue Horizons however I would do this at 13 weeks - after you have taken your iron supplements for 12 weeks then had one week break to ensure the excess is excreted - to save money.

    I should have said in my other post that ferritin levels tend to rise slowly but you need to test every few months as too much iron is poisonous, and sometimes people will store iron in ferritin because their body is inflamed or they have a chronic disease.

  • Thank you.

  • Hypothyroidism is often caused by an auto-immune condition called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, or AIT (autoimmune thyroiditis). So it's quite possibly the other way around, that your immune system is the problem, and this has led to your hypothyroidism.

    At your TSH I would definitely say you would benefit from medication. Sometimes TSH can be that high temporarily due to an illness or virus, but with your symptoms I'd say it's a reflection of your hypothyroidism. Doctors may want to run another test before agreeing to put you on medication.

    I'm not a runner, but a skateboarder. And I can tell you that until you are on the optimal dose of medication any excess exercise eats up precious T3 hormone (the active hormone which is converted from T4) and can therefore worsen your symptoms as your body struggles to keep going. Once optimally medicated people find that are able to get back into a regiment of exercise.

    Consider that competitive cyclists take high doses of T3 hormone to prepare for tours, so even proper functioning thyroids have a limit to how much hormone they can produce.

    What would be important from here on is to get your FT3 levels also checked. If they are lower than halfway in the range you will definitely have problems with exercise. I'm on T3 hormone and my FT3 levels are top of the range, it's the right level which has helped me to become active again.

  • Thank you. My gp mentioned that these levels would be helpful - just a case of waiting for endo appointment now.

  • It's great that you were able to get referral to Endo! Many people struggle with their doctors for it. Good luck with everything! 🙂

  • Hopefully the endo will test you for everything.

    I suggest you read the thyroid uk website - thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/index.... so you understand about the thyroid and what tests to ask for plus why you are asking for them.

    Also more importantly ask the endo if you have a trial of levothyroxine. The NICE guidelines allow people with what they call "subclinical" hypothyroidism to have a trial if the doctor thinks it is warranted. If you sound like a clued up patient you maybe more likely get this however be careful when mentioning the running to stress that you are "a fun runner" e.g. you run to finish a distance not get an amazing time, as some doctors have an idea that sports people want thyroid hormones (plus other medication) for their performance enhancing effects.

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