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5 Signs Your Thyroid Medication Is Working Properly

Dealing with a thyroid disorder isn’t easy. It affects your body and mind, making everyday life tough. Thankfully, thyroid medicines can help a lot. They ease symptoms, letting you take back control of your health. But how can you tell if your thyroid medicine is really helping? This article will show you the key signs that your medicine is doing its job and improving your health. Another question you might have is: what if your thyroid medicine isn’t working? How can you know, and what should you do? We’ll discuss all of this, too, in this blog. Before discussing the five signs that show your medicine is working, let’s understand the role of thyroid hormones and why taking your thyroid medicine, like synthroid tablets, is so important. Ready? Let’s get into it!

The Role of the Thyroid Hormone

In our body’s endocrine system, there are several important glands responsible for producing hormones. One of these is the thyroid, situated at the base of your neck. It works by regulating your metabolism and development in your body.

At the base of your brain, there’s a powerful gland called the pituitary gland, often dubbed the ‘master’ of the endocrine system. It plays a crucial role by producing a key hormone known as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone acts like a signal to your thyroid gland, prompting it to release two important hormones:

  1. Triiodothyronine (T3)
  2. Thyroxine (T4)

The active thyroid hormone in your body is called T3, and it’s crucial for your overall health. T4 is another thyroid hormone that needs to be converted into T3 to work properly. If this conversion process doesn’t work well, it leads to a condition known as hypothyroidism, which affects 5 out of every 100 Americans.

Reasons of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can happen when your body is missing some important things from your diet. For instance, if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables and instead eat a lot of processed foods with carbs and sugars, it can increase the risk of hypothyroidism. There are also other reasons why someone might develop hypothyroidism. These include:

  • Hashimoto’s Disease
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Inflammation of the Thyroid (Thyroiditis)
  • Certain Medications
  • Radiation Treatment

Signs and Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid

People with an underactive thyroid may encounter certain signs or discomforts, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold Intolerance
  • Weight Gain
  • Joint and Muscle Pain
  • Thinning Hair
  • Dry Skin
  • Infertility
  • An Irregular Menstrual Cycle
  • Depression
  • A Slowed Heart Rate and Metabolism

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is not very common, affecting 1 out of every 100 Americans. It can be caused by conditions like Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, inflammation, too much iodine, or noncancerous tumors, which make your thyroid gland produce too many hormones. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be different for each person, but it usually shows up as:

  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Appetite
  • Frequent Bowel Movements
  • Irritability
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Fatigue or Trouble Sleeping
  • Goiters

Moreover, if you take too much medication for hypothyroidism, it can make your thyroid hormones go in the wrong direction, leading to a condition called hyperthyroidism. To prevent this from happening, it’s very important to keep a close watch on your thyroid health and regularly check your hormone levels when you’re using any thyroid medication. This way, you can ensure your treatment remains effective and safe.

5 Signs Your Thyroid Medication Is Actually Working

In the management of hypothyroidism, doctors typically prescribe a medication known as levothyroxine. This medication is a synthetic version of the T4 hormone, presented with the brand name Synthroid, which your body needs for proper functioning. Levothyroxine is prescribed to help balance and regulate your:

  • Metabolism
  • Internal Body Temperature
  • Growth and Development
  • Weight
  • Energy Levels

While levothyroxine begins its action right away, it may take a few weeks before you notice any improvements in your symptoms. To assess how well the thyroid hormone medication is working for you, you can keep an eye on these five signs:

1. Hormone Levels Are Stable

Once your doctor gives you levothyroxine, they’ll want to keep an eye on how well it’s working. Every six weeks, you’ll probably need a blood test to measure your thyroid hormones. This helps your doctor see if the medication is doing its job. Since levothyroxine is a long-term treatment, you’ll have to visit your doctor once a year to keep tabs on your hormone levels. If you’re pregnant, you might need to go more often, like once a month. If the medication isn’t doing its job, your doctor might need to look for other reasons. That’s because the symptoms of hypothyroidism can be similar to other health issues, like:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Anemia

2. Boost Your Energy Levels

When you’re taking hormone replacement pills, you should start feeling less tired and more upbeat. You can keep track of your mood and energy levels during thyroid treatment by jotting down your feelings in a daily journal. If you’re still feeling tired, make sure you’re taking your medication regularly. Also, consider taking it on an empty stomach unless it upsets your stomach. And here’s a tip: don’t take your medication at the same time as your daily iron or calcium-rich vitamins. That could slow down the absorption of the thyroid hormone replacement, making it less effective.

3. On-Time Menstrual Cycle

Let’s talk about something important for the ladies out there – the menstrual cycle. Now, if you’re dealing with an underactive thyroid (called hypothyroidism), it can mess with your periods. They might become irregular, super heavy, or even decide to take a vacation. If your body isn’t releasing eggs like it should (aka ovulation), getting pregnant might be a bit tricky. But don’t worry; if the thyroid medication levothyroxine is working properly, then you have your solution here. It helps bring back the balance in your thyroid hormones, making your body feel right at home. And the good news is this might also work its magic on your menstrual cycle. You could start having more regular periods and ovulation, making it easier for you if you’re planning to grow your family. But if things aren’t getting better, it’s totally fine to have a proper conversation with your doctor. They might tweak the dosage of your synthroid tablets to make sure you’re feeling your absolute best.

4. Skin And Hair Health

When you have hypothyroidism, it’s pretty common to notice that your hair & skin feel dry, thicker, and rougher. Your nails might also get weaker and break easily, and you could see some swelling on your face. Now, here’s something important to know: in the first few weeks of taking levothyroxine, you might see more hair falling out than usual. But don’t worry too much about this. As the medicine starts to work and your hormone levels get back to normal, your hair growth will return to how it was before. It’s all part of the process as your body adjusts to the treatment.

5. Going Back to Your Normal Weight

Gaining a bit of weight is a usual sign of hypothyroidism, as it slows down your metabolism. But don’t worry, it’s usually not a lot – most people see an increase of about five to 10 pounds. This weight gain is often due to extra water and salt in your body. But if you’re taking levothyroxine, it can be a real help. It not only supports you in maintaining a healthy weight but also can assist in losing about 10% of your body weight.

What Causes Thyroid Medication to Stop Working?

When you’re managing thyroid issues with medication, it’s crucial to know that several factors can impact how effective your treatment is. Here are the causes your medication stops working:

  • The way you take your thyroid medicine can really make a difference. For instance, levothyroxine, a common medication for low thyroid function, works best when taken alone in the morning, 30 minutes before breakfast, or any caffeinated drinks. In contrast, if you’re on methimazole for an overactive thyroid, it’s typically taken three times a day alongside meals.
  • Be mindful of other medications you’re taking. Levothyroxine and similar thyroid medicines can interact with different drugs, which might lessen their effectiveness. It’s always a good idea to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
  • If you have digestive or kidney issues, they can affect how the body absorbs & processes thyroid medication. Also, changes in your body, like significant weight fluctuation, getting older, or being pregnant, can influence how well your thyroid medication works.
  • Sticking to your medication schedule is super important. Taking your doses incorrectly or missing them can reduce the effectiveness of your thyroid treatment.

What to Do If Your Thyroid Medication Is Not Working?

While you’re waiting, these suggestions can really help you get the most out of your levothyroxine:

1. Time Your Levothyroxine for Best Results

To make sure your body absorbs levothyroxine properly, take it on an empty stomach—either 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast or at least three hours after dinner. If you take it too close to a meal, your absorption could drop to 64%, down from a solid 80% when fasting, says the American Thyroid Association (ATA). Changing when you take it might help get your thyroid levels back on track.

In an older study from Italy (small but often mentioned), four people struggled to control their thyroid levels even though they were taking the medication. Turns out, they were taking it just 15 to 20 minutes before breakfast. When they shifted to taking it 60 minutes before eating, their levels improved within a month. Remember to swallow your pill with water. Coffee, according to another Italian study, can mess with how your body absorbs levothyroxine. Try to avoid antacids or supplements with calcium or iron within four hours of taking your levothyroxine.

2. Be Patient and Ask for Regular Tests

When you begin taking thyroid hormone, some folks experience increased energy and alertness in a week or two, but that’s not the case for everyone. It might take a month or two before you start feeling better. During this time, you’ll need to visit your doctor multiple times for blood tests to check your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Your doctor may also need to make adjustments to your levothyroxine dose to ensure it’s just right for you.

3. Stick to One Thyroid Medication – Don’t Mix Brands!

Changing from a brand-name thyroid medication to a generic one, or the other way around, may mess with your TSH levels, even if the dosage remains the same. This also applies to switching between different brands of levothyroxine, like going from Synthroid to Levoxyl or vice versa. The FDA requires all levothyroxine versions to deliver between 95% and 105% of the labeled potency, but even slight variations might impact you.

To keep your TSH levels steady, it’s best to stick with the same type of drug, be it generic or brand name, and don’t switch around. Whenever you get a refill, ask for the same one you’ve been taking. If you’ve already made a switch and are worried, have a doctor check your TSH level again. This recommendation comes from the ATA (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) & The Endocrine Society, all suggesting a retest if you’ve switched medications.

4. Avoid ‘Natural’ Thyroid Products and Supplements

Be cautious about supplements claiming to ‘support’ thyroid health, as some may secretly contain thyroid hormones not mentioned on the label. Using them alongside your prescribed medication might lead to an overdose. In a 2023 study examining ten popular thyroid-support products sold online, researchers discovered that nine of them contained undisclosed amounts of T3, T4, or both. Some labels listed animal thyroid tissue, while others only mentioned herbs like guggul, ashwagandha, and Coleus forskohlii. The researchers concluded that these supplements were essentially spiked with thyroid hormones.

It’s also important to note that supplements, including those with kelp (a type of seaweed), might have dangerously high levels of iodine. Additionally, ‘natural’ thyroid supplements could contain gland tissue from various animal organs like the thyroid, liver, heart, and pancreas. This poses a small but serious risk of exposure to prions, agents that could transmit the brain disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob.

Wrapping up

To make sure your thyroid medications are working properly, just follow your doctor’s instructions and show up for all your appointments. Doctors order thyroid level tests not just to figure out if you have thyroid issues but also to check if your medications are doing what they’re supposed to do. Also, your doctor may change your doses or switch you to a different medication, so be sure to buy your medications from the best Canadian online pharmacy. It’s all about making sure you get the right amount of your thyroid medication.

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