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Thyroid UK
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Main causes of Air Hunger?

The worst symptoms I have of thyroid and adrenal low hormone levels is air hunger during even mild exercise - including chest tension. Based on the levels below - do you think it could be more likely to be low thyroid, or low adrenal hormone levels? Note the very low aldosterone. Thyroid hormone levels are starting to come back up....

October 2016:

TSH: 3.23 mU/L (0.4-3.8)

Free T4: 16.3 pmol/L (12.8-20.4)

Free T3: 4.9 pmol/L (4.0-6.8)

April 2017:

TSH: 2.4 mU/L (0.4-3.8)

Free T4: 16.8 pmol/L (12.8-20.4)

Free T3: 5.7 pmol/L (4.0-6.8)

RT3: 154 pmol/L (230-540)

Anti-TPO <1 IU/ml (<10)

Aldosterone: 123 pmol/L (103-1197)

Urine Cortisol: 127 nmol/L (50-250)

DHEA: 4.7 umol/L (2.4-11.6)

August 2017:

TSH: 2.6 mU/L (0.4-3.8)

Free T4: 16.3 pmol/L (12.8-20.4)

Free T3: 4.7 pmol/L (4.0-6.8)

Aldosterone: 195 pmol/L (103-1197)

Urine Cortisol: 234 nmol/L (50-250)

DHEA: 8.2 umol/L (2.4-11.6)

Testosterone: 19.8 nmol/L (9.0-25.0)

15 Replies

Have you had an Iron Profile done ? Also test B12 - Folate - Ferritin - VtD.

Oxygen is transported by iron in the red blood cells ....


As Marz said if you have low iron - either haemoglobin, ferritin or both - you will get breathless when exercising. Unfortunately doctors look at whether you are in range not whether you are optimal so you can get breathless even if they say your results are fine. So you need to get tested, get the results and ranges then start a new thread here.

It is also worth having vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D levels done as well at the same time as frequently someone low in one nutrient is low in another.

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Thanks responders. I'm trying to keep track of all levels and of course, I remember about iron but forgot again. B12 is A-OK, those levels are coming up, have been supping that regularly. Plus what started all this was digestive troubles caused by soy, wheat. Of course in that state, absorbing iron from food could have been problematic. Ferritin levels were measured almost a year ago at 135 ug/L (range: 30-500). based on this the levels may have fallen further since then? I know that less than 50 is a clear marker of iron deficiency, however I was still at the bottom end of the scale, and that was one full year ago. I eat meat, however not tons of it, and my gut absorption could still well be a problem. Thoughts?


You probably have low stomach acid. Most hypos do, and you are still hypo, with your levels. TSH should be one or under when on thyroid hormone replacement.

Have you had your vit D tested? Low vit D can also cause breathlessness - and I think you mean breathlessness, air hunger is not quite the same thing, and is a hypo symptoms.


I think you hit the nail on the head - this is something else I started with, then neglected as other issues took over. Have all the symptoms of low stomach acid, Like I say, it all started with poor digestion. I wold say this has also led to lower iron absorption. Thanks!


You're welcome. :)


Plus I had these blood profile readings done last October too. Any thoughts on this?:

Haemoglobin:150 g/L ( 130-175 )

Haematocrit:0.444 Ratio ( 0.40-0.52 )

Red Cell Count:5.20 10^12/L ( 4.3-6.0 )

Mean Cell Volume:85.4 fL ( 80-99 )

Mean Cell Haemoglobin:28.8 pg ( 27-33 )

Platelet Count:227 10^9/L ( 150-400 )


Do you have Hashimoto's (high antibodies) and if you do are you strictly gluten free


I have symptoms of hashis and have recently slipped a bit on the gluten. However I am being more strict about that now. Havent done the antibodies test for hashis' - not sure if its actually available in NZ.....thanks


I have same symptoms . Have all my bloods at optimum now. Was on iron tablets but had to stop them as the levels were to high. At the moment i am working on my DHEA. Air hunger is really bad. I am fine whilst sitting but any movement has me gasping. Docs are working on the theory of my adrenals being overstimulated by steriods over the years and want me to reduce them... My oxometer is as low as 88 at times. What are your readings on oxometer


Hello, I don't know about the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease and its associated co-infections in New Zealand. It is usually missed in the UK and it is very hard to get a diagnosis and treatment here. Air hunger is one of the very big symptoms of Babesia, a co-infection of Lyme Disease, and sometimes an infection without Lyme. Inflammation caused by Lyme and its associated co-infections can lead to thyroid and adrenal dysfunction which is never picked up in the UK, and maybe not in NZ either. There are very specific tests required and the experience a Lyme literate doctor. Two members of my family have been affected by Lyme Disease and we had to travel to the USA for help. Hopefully you will do better in NZ than the thousands suffering in the UK because of these conditions.

Sadly thyroid doctors will not look for Lyme, its co-infections or other associated infections and will only treat what they see in thyroid tests. My daughter was kept ticking over by taking high doses of T3 for many years, but it wasn't until she had the proper tests for the many infections that had been affecting her health for 20+ years, and the correct treatment, that her health began to improve.

You may want to check this site: suzycohen.com/articles/lyme... and if you feel it rings any bells I'd be happy to send you more links if you contact me by PM.

I hope you can find the help you need in NZ. Jane x


Hi Jane, That's wonderful your daughter finally found the root of her health issues!

I am in a similar boat with chronic air-hunger. I've had it for about six months (all the time even when sitting) even though the pulse ox always reads 100%. I've had endless tests including a cardiac mri, brain mri, lung ct scan, and more, and everything has come back normal. I do have Hashimoto's, and my T3 is just slightly low while my TSH and free T4 are normal. I also have low ferritin (8). Now I'm wondering about getting tested for Babesia. Did your daughter have to see an infectious disease specialist to get tested? What kind of treatment did she undergo, and did her air hunger subside? Any input would be highly appreciated!

Thanks so much!



Your TSH is too high should be around 1 or lower.. You need an increase in levo.




Side effect No 3. (Major Side Effects) drugs.com/sfx/levothyroxine...

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You are undermedicated to have TSH 2.6. Ask your GP to increase dose.

The goal of Levothyroxine is to restore the patient to euthyroid status. For most patients that will be when TSH is 0.4 - 1.0 with FT4 in the upper range. FT4 needs to be in the upper range in order that sufficient T3 is converted. Read Treatment Options in thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_... Email louise.roberts@thyroiduk.org if you would like a copy of the Pulse article to show your GP.

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