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Thyroid UK
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I am new on here, and need help!

I am 53, in the last few years have continued to gain weight despite not eating much, and going to gym etc. Last week I was told I had a 12.5 level of ....can't remember the initials, but it means I have underactive thyroid. This makes total sense to me, as it feels like my metabolism just isn't there anymore! I am also always tired. The worst thing is a big bloated belly. I really hate it and it is uncomfortable. I am due to see doctor on Monday, and presume that I will be given thyroxine. I just want to ask....does it help? I am very fed up feeling this way. Also, is 12.5 a high level? I got the info from the secretary at my doctor's surgery, because otherwise I would have had to wait a few days to even find out what the problem was. So I asked the secretary which of my blood test results had come back as not normal. I had gone to GP due to putting on weight despite lots of exercise, not eating much etc.

10 Replies

If you need Levothyroxine then it will help although it takes a few months to adjust. In the UK treatment Commences once TSH is over 10.0 and unless very young, very old or frail or with a heart condition. Starter dose should be 50mcg. Retest in 6-8 weeks time and so on until TSH is around 1.


Thanks. Does it make you feel better quite quickly?


It can take time. In addition, you need to check your vitamin levels, vitamin D, B12, folate and ferritin as if these are low then you will likely continue to feel unwell despite levothyroxine.


Ask GP to test your thyroid antibodies to see if the cause of hypothyroidism is due to autoimmune thyroid disease

You need both TPO and TG thyroid antibodies tested

If antibodies are high this is Hashimoto's, (also known by medics here in UK more commonly as autoimmune thyroid disease).

About 90% of all hypothyroidism in Uk is due to Hashimoto's. Low vitamins are especially common with Hashimoto's. Food intolerances more likely too, especially gluten. So it's important to get antibodies tested at least once

Link about antibodies and Hashimoto's



List of hypothyroid symptoms


NHS guidelines saying standard starter dose is 50mcgs


Always take Levo on empty stomach and then nothing apart from water for at least an hour after. Many take on waking, but it may be more convenient and possibly more effective taken at bedtime


Many people find Levothyroxine brands are not interchangeable. Once you find a brand that suits you, best to make sure to only get that one at each prescription. Watch out for brand change when dose is increased

Bloods should be retested 6-8 weeks after initial starter dose. Dose is increased in 25mcg steps until TSH is around one and FT4 towards top of range and FT3 at least half way in range

All thyroid tests should be done as early as possible in morning and fasting and don't take Levo in the 24 hours prior to test, delay and take straight after. This gives highest TSH, lowest FT4 and most consistent results. (Patient to patient tip, GP will be unaware)


If your TSH is 12.5 then yes you are quite severelyy hypothyroid

What is vital is

Free t4

Free t3




Thyroid antibodies

All must now be done

Blood tests must be Early Morning


And once on Levothyroxine never never take it in previous 24 hours

Take it after the blood draw


Hopefully my gp will suggest those things? If not then I will ask. I really want to feel better. Have had lots of symptoms for years including depression which all point to this. So 12.5 is quite severe? Thanks for replying


Also does it tend to get worse over time? Wondering how long I have had it for as never had it tested


You are legally entitled to have copies if all your previous tests. It is possible your thyroid was tested but just the TSH and as it was in range nothing was mentioned. Happens so often. Always obtain copies of results so you can monitor your own health and check what has been missed 😊

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You are very likely to have been getting ill over many years

Usually its inherited so other family members even back 2 generations will have other auto immune illness or thyroid or have died relatively young with cardiac events


I am sorry you have hypothyroidism and the following is a link of clinical symptoms:-


Unexplained weight gain is the commonest question. It is due to hypothyroidism which lowers our metabolism and also causes a lower pulse and temperature.

Exercising is not recommended until you get your TSH lowered and you feel well.

There are two main thyroid hormones our body needs to function optimally, it is T4 and T3. T4 (levothyroxine is an inactive hormone and has to convert to T3 (liothyronine) which is the active hormone required in our millions of T3 receptor cells - brain and heart contain the most.

It probably takes a number of years before we are finally diagnosed as hypothyroid. It is a life-long condition which means we do not have to pay for any other prescription, for any other problems we may have/get. Our body cannot function without an optimum dose so we have to read, learn and ask questions. You may have a good doctor who is knowledgeable but many are not. We also do not get a Full Thyroid Function Test often or ever and many members get their own privately. We have two labs who do so but you wont need one yet.

A Full Thyroid Function Test is TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone which is from the pituitary gland which tries to flag the thyroid gland to produce more hormones when it is failing). This seems to be the only way they diagnose/treat whereas in the past doctors used to take our clinical symptoms into consideration.

In other countries if the TSH goes above 3 they are diagnosed as hypo. In UK it is 10 but many can feel not very well by then.


I hope you feel better in a few months. The aim is a TSH of 1 or lower. Some doctors think that somewhere in the range is fine, (i.e. around 5). T4 is an inactive hormone and has to convert to T3 the Active hormone required in our millions of T3 receptor cells.

If you have antibodies, going gluten-free can help reduce the attack of them on your thyroid gland, and they wax and wane until you are hypothyroid. If antibodies are present you have an Autoimmune Thyroid Disease also called Hashimoto's.

Always get a print-out of your results with the ranges. Labs have different machines and also ranges.

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