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Blood test results came back TSH level 0.17, what does this mean?
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Blood test results came back TSH level 0.17, what does this mean?

Hi,

I was diagnosed Hypothyroid about 5 years ago. I was till recently on 125mg Levothyroxin (levothyroxine). After feeling dizzy and tired and unwell and missing 1 period I went to my doctor. He got me to have a blood test which came back "Normal - no action". Still feeling rough I went & saw one of the female Doctors who said although I was within the normal range one of my levels was a bit low suggesting I was getting too much thyroxin (therefore slightly hyper) and reduced my medication to 100mg.

I then went back for a blood test last week to check that this had worked. I just called the docs and again "normal no action" so this time I pressed them for some further information, I said that I wanted to know my last 2 test results so that I could compare. After much discussion she told me my most recent result was TSH 0.17 but I don't know what this means.

She has agreed to put in a request with the doctor to give me the results of the last 2 tests (which I personally think is a bit much, they are my results, why can't I just have a copy) but in the meantime I was wondering if some one out there could explain to me what TSH 0.17 means please? A lot of people on this site seem to know and understand these things and I am frustrated that I don't understand my condition.

I live in the UK by the way, I don't know if this makes any difference to how my results are interpreted but I thought I would mention this in case.

Thanks in advance!
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Avatar_m_tn
First of all, TSH is a pituitary hormone, not a thyroid hormone.  Doctors like to believe that it is the gold standard for diagnosing thyroid problems.  In reality it is affected by so many variables that it is inadequate as the sole diagnostic for thyroid.  In addition, TSH does not directly cause any symptoms.  It is just a messenger hormone, which signals to the thyroid glands to increase/decrease thyroid hormone production.  

Many patients have a suppressed TSH level when taking significant amounts of thyroid meds.  For example, my TSH has been around .05 for over 25 years, with no concern for being hyper.  In fact I had lingering hypo symptoms until learning about the importance of the most active thyroid hormone, free T3, and getting my meds changed to increase the low level of FT3 that I previously had.  

In my opinion the best way to treat a thyroid patient is to test and adjust levels of the actual, biologically active thyroid hormones, free T3 and free T4, with whatever type of meds are required to relieve symptoms, without being constrained by resultant TSH levels.   Symptom relief should be all important, not TSH level.  Many of our members report that symptom relief for them required that FT3 was adjusted into the upper part of its range and FT4 adjusted to at least midpoint of its range.   Studies have shown that FT3 correlated best with hypo symptoms, while TSH and FT4 did not correlate.  

From our members' experiences,  living in the UK is going to make it more difficult to find a good thyroid doctor that will treat you clinically (for symptoms), by adjusting FT3 and FT4 levels.  It seems that the "Immaculate TSH Belief" prevails with most of the NHS doctors.   So you may have to do some talking with the doctor to try and get agreement on treatment, or you may have to look for one the few good thyroid doctors available to you.  Here is a good article, written by a doctor, that covers this whole subject area very well.

http://www.hormonerestoration.com/Thyroid.html
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Clair,

I can't offer much help because I'm still feeling my way around here too, but as I read through your post I found myself thinking 'I bet she lives in the UK'. The attitude from Doctors over here is pretty pitiful when it comes to have access to one's own statistics (in my experience). Start telling them you've been conversing with people on an online forum and they'll as likely clam up completely.

After much haranguing I have just managed to get my last results from February. As expected there is no mention of T3's, T4's etc, just TSH. Makes me wonder if my T3 or T4 has ever been tested.

In the past, I have tried pressing my GP for more information when he phones with my results - he is always very reluctant to expand on 'everything's fine'. Well, I'm anything but fine at the moment and thanks to the fine people on this forum (and some private blood tests)  I have discovered that my FT3 is way too low and the probable cause of my problems.

This is probably of little help but I just wanted to emphasise with the difficulty of obtaining any sort of meaningful info out of one's GP.
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