Untreated ‘Borderline Hypothyroidism’ Leaves Many Thyroid Patients Unwell

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Originally published on 31st May 2017
Last updated on 29th October 2018

As someone who was diagnosed with a ‘borderline underactive thyroid’, I always wince at the phrase.

The photo on the left below is from 2015, when I was incredibly ill from ‘only borderline hypothyroidism’, as the doctor kept telling me. You can clearly see that I was not well. I was pale, had huge bags under my eyes and a puffy face.
The photo on the right is two years later, on thyroid hormone replacement.

They refused to treat me for my failing thyroid gland, being destroyed by my own immune system, and dismissed my concerns of feeling overwhelmingly fatigued, weak and unfit. At the end of the day on which this photo was taken, after walking around Edinburgh, I collapsed at the hotel, passing out from pure exhaustion. It took a good hour or so for me to come back around. It was very scary.

A week later, the doctor eventually agreed to trial me on thyroid hormone replacement and agreed I had autoimmune hypothyroidism now worthy of treatment. Because he let it get that bad.

‘Borderline’ or ‘Subclinical’ hypothyroidism is a term I really don’t like. To me, your thyroid hormone levels are either optimal or not. If they’re not optimal they can cause symptoms and affect your quality of life, so ‘borderline’ levels are no excuse to not treat someone. They are no excuse to withhold crucial medication or imply someone is a hypochondriac. Every person is individual, so we should be treated as such and this includes those with ‘only borderline’ results who have mounting, debilitating symptoms.

I lost years of my life to thyroid symptoms ruling it, due to doctors dismissing me because they went on inaccurate testing and outdated, wide ranges, above my symptoms. Many patients lose many years. Until it was so late for me that the medication they did eventually give me made no difference whatsoever. My body was in too poor a state.

If your doctor has said you are borderline or subclinically hypothyroid and is withholding treatment, despite your quality of life suffering, then I strongly suggest you get another doctor’s opinion, and possibly another, until you’re taken seriously and treated. You should also have a retest of any borderline/subclinical TSH, Free T3 or Free T4 readings to see if they have gotten better or worse. They can occasionally get better, but for many, they get progressively worse. If you wish to order these yourself, please find a link for those in the UK here and a worldwide link here.

Optimal thyroid levels are often crucial when recovering your health from poor thyroid function. ‘In range’ in often not enough to remove symptoms. Please see more information on optimal thyroid levels here.

Have you been dismissed with ‘borderline’ hypothyroidism, yet feel very unwell?

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate Book CoverSee also:

The bookBe Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired by thyroid patient Rachel, which covers how she got her health back after doctors told her she was ‘only borderline’ hypothyroid.

There is also the thyroid patient course which you can complete from your own home and computer. Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue helps you tackle low energy with a personalised approach so you can get back to enjoying life.

If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness. "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate."

Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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2 thoughts on “Untreated ‘Borderline Hypothyroidism’ Leaves Many Thyroid Patients Unwell

  1. I found out recently in 2009 my doctor knew I was hypothyroid but did nothing about it. Nothing was done until 2013 after I had my first child and my levels went mad. I just wish I’d looked into it all more when I first got my symptoms. Even now I am still fighting to get my optimal mess and start to feel better. Your blog helps me so much. Thank you for your great work xx

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that you were left for so many years without proper treatment and attention. It’s never too late to start researching and correcting your levels though. Thank you for your lovely comment x

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