Thyroid UK
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Overactive Thyroid

Ok so for a while I've been having a some issues and I've been backwards and forwards to the doctor's. On Monday they finally did a blood test to see what my thyroid was doing.now I've never been a good sleeper and I'm always tired. That's never changed. I got a call today from my doctor. My thyroid is 26.9? It should be between 12 and 24. He's refered me to the hospital to see a consultant but he said it could take a few weeks. He said to call back if anything gets worse. How do I know if it's getting worse? My symptoms can't get a lot worse. I know an overactive thyroid can be dangerous. So does anyone know how long an overactive thyroid can go untreated before it becomes dangerous? I went to my doctor about other issues after I started having pain my chest and arm. My heart and lungs where ruled out. Any help would be great. Thanks!

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Welcome to our forum,

I am not quite sure what you are referring to when you state "My thyroid is 26.9? It should be between 12 and 24."

Is that the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)? If it is it should be 1 or below eventually when you've been on levothyroxine for a while. I don't know what he means when he states 12 and 24?

Usually we can have blood tests which are TSH, T4, and T3.

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I'm not sure what he meant either if I'm honest. He didn't say much of what he was on about. But do you know how long an overactive thyroid can be untreated before becoming dangerous?

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I am not sure you have an overactive condition as everything in your body would feel hyperactive, ie fast pulse, very hot etc etc.

I just think he said that you were high,i.e. 26.9 meaning your TSH (I think) but then he goes on to say it should be between 12 and 24 (that doesn't make sense). Get a print-out from the surgery with the ranges. We are entitled by law to have a print-out and post on a new question.

I don't know why they cannot spend five or ten minutes explaining what's going wrong.

Usually they take two TSH and T4.

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I'll get hold of them in the morning! Thanks

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I imagine it is Free T4 which is supposed to be between 12 and 24.

With a level of Free T4 which is just over the reference range it is possible that you are hyperthyroid (have an overactive thyroid), but it is also possible that you have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and are actually well on your way to having hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).

With Hashi's you can get swings from hypo to hyper and back again, but eventually you end up permanently hypothyroid. You could be going through a hyper swing at the moment.

But, you simply don't have enough information to decide which situation is true.

You should ask for copies of your blood tests from your surgery - perhaps the last two or three years worth. You need the actual results and the reference ranges.

Once you have them post the results on the forum in a new post.

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In the meantime, your doctor does have some choices to make your life more bearable.

What are your actual symptoms?

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My symptoms are dizziness, I get the shakes, pounding heart. I also have other symptoms but not sure if they're related or for something different.

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Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism can be found here :

thyroiduk.org/tuk/about_the...

Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be found here :

thyroiduk.org/tuk/about_the...

You'll see that with some symptoms there can be overlap between the two conditions, which makes life more difficult.

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I have posted my main reply below but just wanted to say that for me, hyperthyroidism gave me a huge range of peculiar symptoms. From all the ones I list below, to odd things like fingernails becoming more curved over and my earwax getting more dry and crumbly. Thyroid hormones affect everything.

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The fingernail thing (I get it and my Mum did too) may be a low level of B12.

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That is interesting. My Vit B was tested at the time I was very ill and the result was 641 (range 180-900) so I would be surprised if this were low enough to cause the nail problem but who knows. I can imagine being low in various vitamins/minerals when hyperthyroid as I imagine my body was burning through them very fast, and perhaps the blood levels are different to what is going on at a cellular level. Obviously something caused the nails to curve (only on the ring and little finger), and quite suddenly. Have yours returned to normal or do they remain that way? Were/are you hyper?

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Im in remission from Graves, but I have Hashimoto. Mine is all my fingers and thumbs.

If not B12 it is iron, it's definitely one of those two. If I keep my nutrients at a good level the nails grew straighter. Not all, and not completely straight, but a big improvement.

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Will get results! Can it be dangerous? How quickly does it get dangerous and how will I know?

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I'm not well-read on the subject of hyperthyroidism.

Perhaps Fruitandnutcase could help, I know that she has been hyperthyroid. I've alerted her, so hopefully she will respond.

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Thank you

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Sorry, I’ve been out most of the day and just seen this. I’ve got Graves’ disease which is hyper with antibodies. I’d say I had it for a very long time. I was diagnosed in November 2012 but the year before I got a camera for my Christmas that I couldn’t use because my hands were so shaky it was pretty much taking photos by itself. Then in the August I went to a doctor who said ‘you’re needing a holiday’. Then in November I almost killed myself while driving, went to my GP the next day, had blood t sst and within two days was taking carbimazole because I was so hyper.

Unrecognised / untreated hyper is not good. I think I read that you can have problems if you are involved in an accident something to do with adrenaline.

My heart was pounding so much I couldn’t sleep. You could feel my pulse just by resting a hand on my stomach, it was like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. If you look at the symptoms on the links you have got to ThyroidUK I had most of them.

My GP prescribed 20mcg carbimazole right away, made an appointment with a consultant and told me to go back for more blood tests in four weeks time. I did that and my blood results hadn’t improved so I got a lettter from my consultant telling me to double the amount of carbimazole I was taking.

I was treated with block and replace and I fiund that every time I needed more thyroxine (the repLace part) I got hyper symptoms again so there is an overlap.

Find out all your test results with their lab ranges and keep a note of them. Ask your doctor to test your ferritin, folate, vitamin D and B12, hopefully they will do that without too much of a problem. You want all of those things to be well up in their ranges to help your thyroid.

I used to keep mine in a notebook along with any questions I wanted to ask. I kept these to bullet points and tried not to have too many - I didn’t want the doctor to switch off!

If your doctor told you to go back if you feel worse then do that. He can give you beta blockers ( as long as you aren’t asthmatic- I was so I had to sit it out) or he could perhaps start you on carbimazole like I was so don’t suffer in silence. If you are hyper and start on carbimazole take some high strength vitamin C with it, my pharmacist told me to do that so I always took 1000mcg slow release vitamin C with zinc.

It took me three months for my appointment to come through which rather shocked me because I was feeling SO ill but that was about normal at that time. Good luck with it all! Post any results you get and people can have a look and come back with any questions you have. Good luck with it all.

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Thanks for getting back! I'll call the doctor's tomorrow. Get a cope of the results and I won't suffer in silence!

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i am guessing he means Freet4 is 26.9.

which is not too horrendous but i suspect previously your freet4 was more like 16 so for you its a lot and causing symptoms ....you should be started on carbimazole or beta blockers while you wait for endo appt the symptoms of hyperthyroid are very varied and difficult to cope with that i know as my husband was originally hyperthyroid

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While I wait?

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Yes while you wait for an endocrinologist appt ...hyperthyroid is not fixed in a day its a long term part of illness ..are others in your family diabetic or have hypothyroid or any other auto immune disease

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No one in my family has any history of such things that I'm aware of

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Its unusual ...my husbands Mother had severe Endometriosis ...he has passed that and Hashimotos to our daughter and 4 grandaughters

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Hello,

Sorry you are feeling unwell. I agree with humanbean, I'm guessing that the 12-24 is the lab range for free T4 (thyroxine). When mine is tested, the lab reference range is 12-22 which is similar.

I have been hyperthyroid: my symptoms were a hand tremor, palpitations, fast heartrate, a pounding heart, terrible anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, inner vibration, muscle weakness, muscle twitches, balance problems, weird 'numbness' in my limbs, chest tightness and breathlessness. Later on I felt generally unwell all the time.

If that result is for free T4, you are not massively over range but if it is above your body's normaI, I can believe it is enough to make you feel ill. I just had a big hike in thyroid hormones again, my free T4 went from 13 to 19 and, despite staying within the lab reference range, I have been feeling awful!

The main serious risk with hyperthyroidism is 'thyroid storm' in which your body is going very hyper indeed but this is rare. Your heart rate would be over 140bpm at rest, sweating, shaking, confusion, possibly feverish, feeling very unwell: I reckon you would know. I'm not an expert but I don't think at free T4 of 26 you should worry overly about this. I had a free T4 of around 41 with a resting pulse of about 120 at my worst and did not go into thyroid storm. I was undiagnosed and untreated for three or four months. I do remember panicking horribly about thyroid storm once diagnosed though, because my heart did odd things sometimes at night time which had me leaping out of bed in terror, convinced it was going to stop. It is very frightening and the anxiety doesn't help. I was given beta blockers which did calm my poor heart down. If you monitor your resting pulse you should be able to reassure yourself.

I hope you can get some more info and a treatment plan from your GP quickly.

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I've been feeling exactly that! Although my heart rate at rest isn't that high. The sleep thing and anxiety is exactly how I've been feeling. Thanks 😊

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Rhiii,

Some doctors would have prescribed a beta blocker (probably propranolol). That can help in several ways - effectively reducing the effect of excess thyroid hormone a little.

Mostly overactive thyroids are dangerous when the levels are high or very high. Although quite enough to make you feel awful, your FT4 (that is what I think makes sense from the three numbers you posted) isn't dramatically high. Some people would appear to have been hyperthyroid for many years.

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Thank you everyone for leaving a reply. I will be calling my doctor tomorrow and hopefully sort something and I'll get a copy of my test results! Just got to figure out what to say 😂

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One last question if anyone can help ... Does anyone get chest pain rather than tightness? I've had it on my left side for a few months Heart issues have been ruled out

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I have had not sharp pain but a dull ache right in my central chest. I was checked out for asthma because of it but was clear.

Interesting you mention this though because I have just been diagnosed with something called costochondritis - inflammation of the rib cartilage. It doesn't hurt all the time but if I actually press gently on my rib cartilage it is really sore!

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That's what I get! Right on my breast bone! But I also get sharpish aches to the side aswell

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That is very interesting! I too get pains where the rib cartilage meets the breastbone; also on the bits of rib cartilage below the breastbone where the ribs curve down, and to the sides roughly between armpit and where one's bra strap is.

An osteopath first pointed it out to me: I had pain between my shoulder blades which I wanted a bit of help with. He said I was carrying tension and had sore muscles either side of a couple of upper back vertebrae. He then said that if you follow the ribs round from there, they attach at sore points on the breastbone. He also pointed out the side tenderness on the same ribs which I hadn't known was there until he prodded me! I am not sure if the root cause is muscle tension from all my illness stress this year or whether there is some more direct illness link. Anyway, it is very benign which is good news. But how funny if you have the same thing!

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I'm gonna have to point this out to my doctor because I'm getting exactly that! The armpit area, breastbone and between the shoulder blades! My doctor refered me to physio thinking it could be my back

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So similar! Well a physio may be able help if they are following similar thinking. I hope you can get an appointment soon.

I was very impressed by the osteopath actually: pointing out pain areas I didn't even realise I had, and how and why they all linked together. He suggested doing a manipulation on me which I interpreted as being one of those things where they sort of realign you with a bit of a crack - but I was too chicken to let him! He said that was fine and he always asks people what they are comfortable with and he would do some gentler work with me instead. But maybe I need to pluck up the courage to let him do what he says would help!

In the meantime I am working on my posture, gentle stretching exercises and relaxation. The initial back pain has gone so I am hoping the chest will eventually follow.

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I hope it does work out for you! Yeah o would give the cracking thing ago. It could be the one thing that fixes it all

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Hello, I have Graves, I was diagnosed a few months ago. My GP once the results were back got in touch with the endocrinologist at Addenbrookes and he got advice on my treatment.

My symptoms were varied and some I put down to possibly starting the menopause !!. My heart felt like it was going to explode, hot sweats, brain fog, exhaustion, poor sleep and loss of appetite

I was prescribed beta blockers and Carbizmol. I've just recently had my second consultant appointment and I'm now on block and replace.

Good luck on your journey

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Thank you!

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The one very important piece of advice if you actually have Graves Disease / hyperthyroid is on no account whatever agree to RAI / radio active iodine treatment ....you may simply be in a hyper phase of Hashimotos hence why the correct tests must be done

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I will remember that for when I see my doctors and the consultant at the hospital! Thanks

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You wont be offered RAI immediately but down the line you might be ...thats when you need to refuse ...the vital bit now is to establish if its Graves or Hashimotos or both running in tandem and get some treatment to slow down your body and help your symptoms

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Thanks for the advice!

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People who have any common thyroid disease (hypo or hyper) can be low in nutrients. My iron was very, very low, and it caused chest pain. Improving my iron levels made the chest pain go away after I'd been supplementing for a while.

It's something to bear in mind, and perhaps ask your GP or an endo, when you see one, if you can have Vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, and an iron panel tested. They probably won't do them, but there is no harm in asking.

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Thanks you've been really helpful!

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So I saw my doctor today and I have been proscribed propranolol and carbimazole ... She also wrote down what my test results down because she couldn't figure out to print 😂

So ...

THS <0.01 (0.27-4.2)

T4 26.9 (12-22)

Serum thyroid peroxidase antibody concentration ... 22 (0-34)

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