Today we are talking about what to do if you have a low TSH, what it means for your body, what causes it and what to do.
There are 3 main causes of a low TSH that you should know about:
1. Thyroid medication (You are taking too much) → Common
2. Hyperthyroidism (Your body is producing too much) → Common
3. Pituitary/Hypothalamic dysfunction (Your body can’t make it) → Not very common
We are going to focus on the first one today, meaning what happens if you have a low TSH due to taking thyroid medication, but you should realize that there are other causes of a low TSH.
So, how does the TSH work in your body?
TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and its job is to tell your thyroid to produce thyroid hormone.
It’s called thyroid stimulating hormone for a reason because it stimulates your thyroid gland to produce T4 and T3.
A low TSH means that your body is sending the signal to produce less thyroid hormone from your thyroid gland.
This can be because you are taking thyroid medication or because your body is producing too much thyroid hormone on its own.
Lastly, it could be because your body isn’t capable of producing TSH because of damage to the pituitary gland.
The most common concern I see among thyroid patients has to do with having a low or normal TSH but still remaining symptomatic so, to help understand this dilemma, I’ve created 3 questions that we need to answer:
#1. Question: How can you have a low TSH while taking thyroid medication but still feel poorly?
This has to do with the fact that it’s possible to have a low TSH but still have low free T3 and T4 hormones in the body. Studies have shown that simply taking T4 medication is not enough to normalize free thyroid hormone levels even though it may normalize the serum TSH.
#2. Question: Can you have a low TSH and not be hyperthyroid?
Yes! Hyperthyroidism caused by your own body producing too much thyroid hormone is not the same thing as taking too much thyroid medication (although it can be). There are instances where you can take enough thyroid hormone to suppress or lower the TSH but still have low free thyroid hormone levels.
#3. Question: What should you do if you have a low TSH, take thyroid medication and feel poorly?
The best thing to do is to look beyond the TSH and look into other lab tests including free T3, Free T4 and Total T3.
The combination of these lab tests will help you understand more of what is happening in your body.
I’m Dr. Westin Childs and I focus on thyroid health, hormone balance, and weight loss. I write about thyroid disorders, weight loss, insulin resistance, estrogen/progesterone balance on my blog. I truly believe that hormone balance is the key to managing your weight, your mood and your quality of life which is why I’m so passionate about it.
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This video is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you have questions about your health please consult your physician or primary care provider. Dr. Westin Childs goes to great lengths to produce high-quality content but this is NOT a substitute for medical care.
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