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Old 03-21-2013, 12:28 AM   #1
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I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

I recently had a thyroid panel done to see if maybe I have something going on there causing some menstrual issues. My TSH came back as 5.8/slightly overactive, and I see so many different numbers when I try to find out what is considered a normal range. Some say up to 4.0 is normal, while the hospital I was tested at says up to 5.0 is normal. I also see information saying that levels over 6.0 are hypothyroid, which makes no sense.

Also, I have always been under the impression that people with hypothyroidism have trouble losing weight, while those with hyperthyroidism can't keep weight on. I can't lose weight unless I starve myself, so I always thought if I was going to have a thyroid problem, it'd be hypo-T. Imagine my surprise when my test results yield an overactive thyroid!

I actually have had symptoms of hypothyroidism in the past, such as intolerance to cold and dry skin/itchy legs. I'd also say weight problems, but that's most likely less about a thyroid disorder and more about me being a lazy piece of crap.

Last edited by Dark Stranger; 03-21-2013 at 12:34 AM.

 
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Old 03-21-2013, 03:45 AM   #2
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Hi there,

With a TSH of 5.8 indicates hypothyroid (under active thyroid). You need to have your FT4 and FT3 checked to see what is really going on with your thyroid.

Regards,
Martyn

 
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:38 AM   #3
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

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Originally Posted by martyn413 View Post
Hi there,

With a TSH of 5.8 indicates hypothyroid (under active thyroid). You need to have your FT4 and FT3 checked to see what is really going on with your thyroid.
Exactly. High TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) means your pituitary gland is telling your thyroid to work harder, probably because it isn't working as well as it should.

As for your levels, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists decided in 2002 that TSH values above 3.0 were considered abnormal. As for 5.8 being "slightly" hypo, there is NO WAY to tell how one person will feel at any range compared to the next.

The range you got are probably 0.3 or 0.5 to 4.0, so imagine that your body's optimal range was 0.3, but that someone else's best is 3.0, with your TSH at 5.8 you'd be at over 19 times your optimal level, while the other person would be close to 2 times above his. Heck I'm pretty sure some folks could be hypo with perfectly "normal" TSH values.

Finally, like martyn said, you should get your Free T4 and Free T3 tested, perhaps with thyroid antibodies (Anti-TPO and Anti-Tg), as only those can tell you how much hormone is actually available in your body and if your body is attacking your thyroid. TSH is only an indicator of how your pituitary reacts to the amount in your blood.

 
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:43 PM   #4
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

>As for 5.8 being "slightly" hypo, there is NO WAY to tell how one person will feel at any range compared to the next.

The way to think about it is, once TSH is above range, it's a sign that your thyroid hormones T4 and T3 are no longer under good regulation. The pituitary thinks hormone levels are too low, but how much too low is a tricky question. What that means is, more tests are needed, T4, T3, and an thyroid antibody panel.

And the patients symptoms need to be paid attention to.

 
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Old 03-22-2013, 11:48 AM   #5
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Well that's confusing - high numbers means underactive. Must be my doctor doesn't know what she's talking about, then, because her letter to me specified "slightly overactive" thyroid. This hospital claims that 0.3 - 5.0 is a normal range, but I'm glad I was even told an exact value because when I had the thyroid panel done a few years ago, all I got was a letter saying my TSH was "acceptable" - there was nothing telling me the exact numbers. So for all I know, I could have been hypo-T back then too. Who knows.

I guess I can cut my doctor some slack because she's an OB/GYN and endocrinology isn't her thing, but she ordered the thyroid tests, so I really hope she's not the one who will prescribe me the necessary meds if she doesn't know the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Thank you all for your help!

 
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:05 PM   #6
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

During my time here, I've actually seen an instance of a doctor prescribing thyroid hormone for a hypERthyroid patient. The person posted here and was warned to consult another doctor ASAP. If she had had taken the hormone, it would have been life-threatening. She subsequently was correctly diagnosed.

You would be amazed at how stupid some MDs can be about thyroid disease.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:22 PM   #7
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

I swear the more I find out about thyroid disorders, the more confused I get. I definitely have a lot of the symptoms of hypo-T. Is it possible that once I get started on medication for this that my symptoms will get better? I don't expect to drop tons of weight without doing anything, but the main one I'm concerned with is tiredness/fatigue (is there a difference?) Now I don't know 100% for certain if my being tired constantly has anything to do with a thyroid disorder, though I think it's a symptom and folks with hypo can feel really worn out all the time. Would it be hoping for too much to hope for relief from my symptoms?

If everyone has an ideal TSH level that's a little different, but falls within a certain range, how will I be able to know what's ideal for me and what's too low? Just getting my medication dosage constantly adjusted? I need to get it figured out before the summer because I'll be losing my insurance then - I don't even know if I'll be able to stay on the meds, so I don't know if I should even bother taking them when I'll have to quit them in 3 months anyway. Will it be any big deal if I just don't take medication at all? Not that I don't want to get better, but I won't be able to afford a specialist visit with no job and no insurance so I can spend 30 seconds in an office and get my dosage increased by 2 mg.

Here's hoping I get an endocrinologist who knows their stuff.

 
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:24 AM   #8
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

"The best TSH levels" can be different when healthy and when on on thyroid medication as thyroid meds mess with the secretion of TSH (= lower TSH levels when on thyroid medication). Many of us haven't had their TSH tested when symptom free so we don't know what those levels have been. I do know that healthy people most likely have their TSH around 1 (or 2 especially in the cold climate and wintertime), not as high as around 5. When those reference ranges were determined the test group also included people with thyroid antibodies so in reality some of them were already mildly hypoT. Those ranges have since been re-evaluated and the high end of the normal range should be around 3 or so.

Leaving one's hypoT untreated not only affects one's quality of life but can in the long run lead to for example heart problems. I definitely think you should give meds a try.

 
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

I just wonder how I will know I've reached the proper dosage whenever I get on this medication. Considering the hospital feels my TSH is only slightly elevated, does that mean they'd under-medicate me? I don't think they'd listen to me if I brought them printed proof of normal and abnormal TSH levels because...well...they're doctors. They don't like patients coming in and telling them what to do.

The thing is, if I have symptoms of hypothyroidism, I don't know what they are. How will I know if I've been prescribed the proper dosage? I've heard all kinds of things regarding how long it takes to start feeling normal again on thyroid meds - some say I'd see improvement in a week, others say a year.

No offense to any of them, but some of the doctors at my hospital are idiots. Some know exactly what they're doing and are wonderful, others....not so much. I had to fight tooth and nail with my old ENT to get her to prescribe me antibiotics for a horrible sinus infection because she thought I was pregnant. Why? Because I felt nauseous while taking the previous round of meds (which did not work) and she claimed that nausea was not a side effect, so the only reason a 17-year-old menstruating virgin would be sick is from pregnancy. Just to give you an idea of what some of these docs are like.

I'm sorry for asking so many questions. I'd just like to be as educated as possible about all this, and I thank everyone who has taken time to read my topic (I know there's about a dozen new ones here every day) and for taking time to reply.

 
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:13 PM   #10
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Stranger View Post
I just wonder how I will know I've reached the proper dosage whenever I get on this medication.
The main goal with taking thyroid medication is to get rid of symptoms and achieving good health. By this logic, you'd know when you've reached the proper dosage the day you feel fine. You'll also know you've gone too high when your start getting hyperT symptoms.

You can also do like most doctors and simply use the lab ranges to know what dosage suits you best. Once your TSH and FT4 are "normal", you're set.

In my opinion, increase dosage until you feel fine, unless you get out of range with your FT4 or FT3 (TSH doesn't matter as much). If you still don't get relief from your symptoms and your FT3/FT4 are over normals, chances are part of the problem lies somewhere else (though some people do feel better once they've gone above normals, as in thyroid resistance for example)

 
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:27 AM   #11
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Finally got a hold of my doctor today and was told that I will not be getting thyroid meds right now. According to her, my TSH is only ever so slightly elevated and no doctor at the hospital will medicate me when it's only 0.8 outside their "normal" range. What I have to do is get my TSH re-tested in three months to see if it's going up. So if it doesn't move or doesn't move very far, I won't be able to be medicated for it.

I don't know if I should just see an endocrinologist anyway or not. As far as this hospital is concerned, my thyroid is so slightly underactive that it's not worth treating.

 
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:07 AM   #12
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Howdy Stranger,

"No offense to any of them, but some of the doctors at my hospital are idiots. "Well, you sure got that right. The thing is, with a TSH of 5.8 you are a lot hypo, not just a little. Median value for women is 1.3 to 1.4. My TSH got to 6 - 7 and I've got palpitations to show for it. So you really should try to get treatment.

"I just wonder how I will know I've reached the proper dosage whenever I get on this medication."Very good question, because there is a good chance that your adrenal glands are underperforming due to being hypothyroid. So if you keep increasing the thyroid medication when you continue to have symptoms due to adrenal insufficiency or something else, well that's no good. My approach is to increase the thyroid meds until your labs are at MEDIAN levels and then stop and address all other incidental problems before increasing the thyroid meds any further. Median means that you would be at the level of the vast majority of normal people - and as a first assumption that should be good place to be. So here are the numbers. (and don't let them just run the TSH, get all of them!)

Median values for females under age 60 years, with normal thyroids are:
TSH 1.3 - 1.4
FT4 1.04 - 1.1 ng/dL FT4 13.4-14.2 pmol/L
FT3 2.8 - 2.9 ng/dL FT3 4.3-4.5 pmol/L

good luck...

P.S.
There is help for people having difficulty affording thyroid meds. If you go to the sticky "Medication Resources" at the top of the Thyroid Disorders board, and follow the link, you will find that some thyroid medication manufacturers have programs to assist.

 
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:29 AM   #13
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by telus View Post
FT4 1.04 - 1.1 ng/dL FT4 13.4-14.2 pmol/L
FT3 2.8 - 2.9 ng/dL FT3 4.3-4.5 pmol/L
Lab results should always be compared to those reference ranges that are used by the lab that runs the tests. The range depends on the testing method. A FT4 result of say 13 means totally different things when the range is for example 12-22 and when 7-16. Please post reference ranges too

Last edited by FinnMaid; 03-27-2013 at 11:48 AM.

 
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:44 PM   #14
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Stranger View Post
According to her, my TSH is only ever so slightly elevated and no doctor at the hospital will medicate me when it's only 0.8 outside their "normal" range. What I have to do is get my TSH re-tested in three months to see if it's going up. So if it doesn't move or doesn't move very far, I won't be able to be medicated for it.

I don't know if I should just see an endocrinologist anyway or not. As far as this hospital is concerned, my thyroid is so slightly underactive that it's not worth treating.
What time of day did you do your original blood work. I learned from this board that it is optimum to do a fasting early morning blood work. When I finally convinced the Dr to test me again I did this (a month after the first test) and it went from 4.47 (under their arbitrary 5) at 3 pm to 7.96 at 7:30 am. And I got medicated.

 
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:17 PM   #15
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Re: I think I'm hyperthyroid? TSH 5.8

Thank you all again for your wonderful answers. Everyone here has been incredibly helpful.

My doctor, as mentioned, is OB/GYN, so I don't know if she just feels that no one will medicate me or if she knows anything at all about how thyroid levels work. I would have also fasted had I known I was going to be getting a thyroid panel - I went in for a pelvic exam and to take care of some bleeding and she said that the most likely cause of menstrual issues in someone my age who has no health problems and no family history of cancer is an imbalance of some kind. So she had me run right down to the blood lab after my appointment with her to get a thyroid panel. I can't remember if I ate before the appointment - it was at 2 pm, so I'm sure I did.

Even though she's the one who suggested an imbalance and even said in her letter that it "may be beneficial to start on medication," now she's telling me that no one will medicate me.

If actual normal/median values for TSH is 1.3-1.4, then why in the world does this hospital believe it's up to 5.0? I assume that each whole number must be a considerable amount when they're also measuring decimal points, but if every single doctor at this hospital thinks my thyroid is not underactive enough to warrant medication, how do I get treated? Would anything I eat or drink cause my TSH to be that high?

It's just I'm on my mother's insurance (and I get kicked off when I finish school) and I often have to fight with her to see a doctor because she thinks I make up illnesses, and there have been a couple of instances in the past where idiot doctors said I had something serious, ran every test known to man, and it turned out to be absolutely nothing. So now she's especially reluctant to allow me to get a million tests for an uncertain issue because she thinks it'll just be another run-around over nothing at all.

I don't suppose there's something OTC I could take for thyroid regulation, is there? I often turn to over-the-counter options because I have no choice. When I either can't get doctors to help me or I'm forbidden from getting medical care, I see what I can do with supplements. I've heard there is an OTC hypothyroid medication available, but I don't know what it's called. Is this true?

Should I go to my GP and have her refer me to an endocrinologist? Either way if I still need my TSH tested again, I'll be sure to get an early morning appointment to see if that makes a difference.

 
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