Friday, August 12, 2022
HomeExclusiveWhat Happens When You Stop Taking Thyroid Meds

What Happens When You Stop Taking Thyroid Meds

Reasons You’ll Probably Get Worse If You Stop Taking Your Medication

Side Effects of Stopping Thyroid Medication Abruptly (& Why you Shouldn’t do it)

There will always be exceptions to these reasons, but most of you will probably feel worse if you stop taking your thyroid medication for the following reasons:;

#1. Your Body May be Reliant upon the Medication

The first group of patients that should never stop taking thyroid medication includes those who do not have a thyroid or those who have had their thyroid removed.;

This typically stems from conditions such as hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer.;

If you don’t have a thyroid then you are REQUIRED to supplement with thyroid hormone indefinitely !

That means you will NEED to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life.;

Remember, we said that thyroid hormone is required for you to function and for you to live.;

If you can’t produce it naturally then you have to take it in some other way.;

This group of people should never make changes to their thyroid medication without physician supervision as it can be very dangerous.;

Does that mean that you need to suffer from any existing symptoms?

No, but it does mean that you should be very thoughtful about any changes you make to your thyroid medication and dosing.;

TSH is part of an important axis known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis .

In this axis, your body produces TRH which stimulates TSH which stimulates thyroid hormone production.;

This normal axis is disrupted when you take any sort of thyroid medication .;

Even some supplements, such as iodine, can alter this axis.;

Imagine this scenario:

When Medication Is And Isnt Required

Standard blood tests for TSH and free T4 are very reliable indicators of who needs thyroid hormone replacement :

  • TSH levels;are abnormally high, and your free T4 levels are abnormally low:;This means you have true hyperthyroidism. T4 medication is required.
  • Slightly elevated TSH levels;and normal free T4:;This is called subclinical hypothyroid. This is an early form of hypothyroidism and requires monitoring but not T4 medication.
  • Low free T3:;This is a sign of inflammation, digestive issues, or a diet too low in carbs or calories. T3 medication is not normally required.
  • Elevated thyroid antibodies with normal thyroid hormone levels:;In this case, you do not need thyroid hormone replacement.;Hashimotos;disease does not always lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Low free T4 and normal TSH:;This is a sign of dysfunction in the;pituitary gland.;Consult an endocrinologist.

Whether your thyroid condition requires medication or not, many thyroid conditions can be improved through better gut health.;

What Happens If You Don’t Need Thyroid Medication

Suppose you are taking medication to treat hypothyroidism and don’t need it. In that case, you will likely have symptoms associated with too much thyroid hormone . These symptoms may include insomnia, anxiousness, diarrhea, and heat intolerance.

The more concerning issue of taking thyroid medication when you don’t need it lies in the possible side effects, including:

  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Symptoms of heart failure
  • Loss of bone density

The decision to prescribe thyroid medication is not always straightforward. Doctors often rely on your thyroid function tests to help decide if you need medication. However, your symptoms are also a significant factor.

Subclinical hypothyroidism

Sometimes, people have borderline thyroid function levels, which does not necessarily mean you need treatment.

Normal TSH levels are under 4.0mIU/L. A TSH level above 10mIU/L is an indication of hypothyroidism, which requires treatment. However, there is a gray area in whether treatment is necessary for people with rising TSH levels just under 10mIU/L. This state is called subclinical hypothyroidism and is one of the most common forms of hypothyroidism.

Don’t Miss: Is Ginger And Garlic Good For Thyroid

Not Talking To Your Doctor Before Taking Supplements

Your healthcare provider should know about any;supplements;you take because they may affect your hypothyroidism treatment particularly iodine. While iodine is essential for your body to produce thyroid hormone, the vast majority of people in the United States get enough iodine from food and water alone, Dr. Adimoolam says. Because taking too much iodine can cause thyroid hormone levels to go too high or too low, its best to avoid this supplement.

Additional reporting by Deb Shapiro.

Consequences Can Be Quite Serious

What Happens If You Stop Taking Thyroid Medication ...

If you don’t take thyroid medications for your thyroid disease, you can experience a number of serious long-term effects. Some of the effects of skipping or discontinuing your thyroid medication are obvious, while others are subtle or can even remain unnoticeable for years.

Recommended Reading: How To Treat Thyroid Disease Naturally

Side Effects Of Too Much Or Too Little Synthroid

During Synthroid treatment, getting your thyroid hormone to the right level can sometimes be challenging. This is because even a small change in your Synthroid dose may cause your thyroid hormone level to become either too high or too low. And having either too much or too little Synthroid in your body may result in certain side effects.

For example, if you take too much Synthroid, you may have side effects of hyperthyroidism . Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:

  • fast heart rate
  • muscle weakness
  • hair loss

Maintaining a consistent level of Synthroid in your body can help prevent side effects of having too much or too little of the drug in your body. To do this, its very important that you take your Synthroid dose regularly, once each day. And you should try to take the drug at the same time every day.

Oral Contraceptives/natural Hormone Replacement Therapy

This is a really well-known and straightforward consideration, but it remains one that is often missed by people.

Your body makes a blocking protein called thyroid-binding globulin. It is in proportion to how much estrogen can be found in your system.

If you are a menstruating woman, this is one of the reasons that your levels change throughout the month.

But, when you are adding in an oral contraceptive , it can radically change your bodys response to thyroid medication.

This is essentially true with any form of hormone replacement, or even if you start and stop things like these. If you are changing your estrogen levels, you are potentially compromising your medications ability to work effectively.

When a doctor is adding or removing estrogen, it is advisable to plan ahead of time.

In cases like these, you may need a boost or a decrease in the amount of medication that you are taking in line with your hormonal needs.

At Integrative Health, for instance, our doctors actively adjust these things to make sure we are always one step ahead. It starts with a small amount, and then we re-check and give it some finetuning as needs arise and change.

Don’t Miss: How Is A Biopsy Of The Thyroid Performed

Can You Trial Off Your Thyroid Medication

You should not stop taking your thyroid medication without consulting your doctor first. Going “cold turkey” can have negative consequences. Suppose you wish to decrease your medication or try to go off it entirely. In that case, your thyroid doctor may recommend you taper off your dose so that the process is more gradual.

If you wish to quit taking your medication or think you are taking too much, make a list of your symptoms and reasons for stopping your medication. Then, share your concerns with your thyroid doctor.

People with primary hypothyroidism usually require lifelong medication. However, for individuals with subclinical hypothyroidism, you may be able to trial off your medication.

Hypothyroidism Medication Mistakes To Avoid

Can you stop taking thyroid medication once you start? The answer is maybe

Taking your thyroid hormone as prescribed can help you stave off the unpleasant symptoms of low thyroid.


Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce or secrete the amount of thyroid hormone the body needs.

The goal of;hypothyroidism;treatment is to replace the thyroid hormone that you are not able to produce. This helps you feel more energized and back to your normal self, says;Antonio Bianco, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago in Illinois.

After youre;diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your healthcare provider will likely prescribe a synthetic hormone that helps stabilize your thyroid levels, Dr. Bianco says. But there are some guidelines for taking the medication that you need to know about.

Heres how to avoid the most common hypothyroidism medication mistakes.

You May Like: What Does A Slightly Enlarged Thyroid Mean

You Started Estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy

A TSH blood test should be done 12 weeks after starting estrogen therapy to check your thyroid hormone levels. Estrogen, which is available as a pill, injection, or different skin preparations , can affect your thyroid medication. Women taking estrogen therapy may need more Synthroid or levothyroxine.

Synthroid Side Effects That Might Mean Your Dosage Is Way Off

If you’re suddenly pitting out, that’s not a good sign.

If you’ve never paid attention to your thyroid, put your hand on the front of your throat and swallow.

The bump that moves is the cartilage often called the Adam’s apple, and underneath that is where your thyroid sits. Your thyroid is basically the on-board computer for your bodythe hormones it regulates affect almost every system and as long as it’s doing its job you forget it’s even there. But when it’s not working properly? Hell, meet hand basket.

When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism, which can lead to symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, irregular periods, or a slowed heart rate.

The most popular medication used to to treat hypothyroidism and bump up those hormone levels: Synthroid.

Synthroid is the brand name for levothyroxine sodium, a synthetic thyroid hormone pill. “Even though Synthroid is a lab-created hormone it’s identical to the kind produced naturally in the body,” says Melanie Goldfarb, M.D., an endocrinologist and thyroid specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “Taking Synthroid replaces the hormones that your thyroid should be making but, for whatever reason, isn’t.”

Although there are about 1 percent of patients that won’t respond to Synthroid at all and will need other treatment, the vast majority of people on it feel remarkably better within six weeks of starting it, she adds.

Read Also: What Does A Swollen Thyroid Feel Like

Can I Take Levothyroxine If Im Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

If you become pregnant while taking levothyroxine, do not stop taking the medicine without your doctor’s advice. Having low thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy could harm both mother and baby. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy.

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. Your dose needs may be different while you are nursing.

Youre Noticing Skin Changes

Is Night or Day the Time to Take Thyroid Medication?

Skin changes can be signs that your treatment needs an adjustment. Very dry skin especially your hands, elbows, and feet can be a sign that you are not getting enough thyroid hormone when you are hypothyroid. Unusually smooth skin, a bumpy rash on your face called miliaria, or a patch of rough skin on your shins can all be signs that your hyperthyroidism treatment is insufficient, and you need an increased dosage of antithyroid medication.

Also Check: How Did You Know You Had Thyroid Cancer

How Long Does It Stay In Your System

Synthroid stays in your body for about 6 to 7 days after youve taken a dose

However, you should try to keep thyroid hormone levels consistent in your body while youre taking Synthroid. To do this, its important to take the drug as your doctor directs, and to not skip doses.

Using more than the recommended dosage of Synthroid can lead to serious side effects. Do not use more Synthroid than your doctor recommends.

Switching Between Synthroid And Its Generic Versions

Its important to note that Synthroid and generic levothyroxine may each have different effects on your thyroid hormone levels. Because of this, its recommended by the American Thyroid Association and other organizations that you not switch between them. You should keep taking whichever medication you initially start taking.

For example, if you start taking brand-name Synthroid, you should continue to use brand-name Synthroid. If you must switch from the brand-name drug to a generic form, or vice versa, its recommended that you have a blood test 6 weeks after making the switch. This testing is done to be sure that your thyroid hormone levels stay within a normal range.

Even if you switch between different generic forms of levothyroxine that have different manufacturers, its still recommended that you have your thyroid levels tested 6 weeks later.

In some cases, brand-name Synthroid and its generic versions may come in different forms and strengths.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before switching to or from brand-name Synthroid.

Also Check: Does Thyroid Cause Swelling In Feet

Caffeine And Levothyroxine Absorption

Studies have found that drinking coffee;at the same time or shortly after taking your L-T4 tablets can;significantly;lower the;absorption of the thyroid medication;in your intestines.

Melissa Ling / Verywell

The caffeine in coffee is believed to be the cause of this effect. Caffeine can produce an increase in intestinal motility, or intestinal movement. It may also induce an increase in the amount of fluid that flows from your body into your intestines, which results in loose stools. Both of these can make your oral medication pass through your intestines rapidly. In fact, some of the medication may leave your body in the stool before it has a chance to become absorbed into your system.

With lower absorption, the medicine will have less of the intended effect, which increases your;risk of experiencing the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Researchers have found that for patients taking levothyroxine tablets, absorption is affected by drinking coffee within an hour of taking thyroid drugs.;This is why experts recommend that you wait at least 60;minutes after;taking the levothyroxine to drink your coffee.;

This decreased L-T4 absorption can occur when you drink coffee, caffeinated tea, hot cocoa, or caffeinated soft drinks before or shortly after taking your L-T4, although it has been most commonly studied with coffee.

You Have Joint And Muscle Aches/pains

What happened when I stopped taking my thyroid medication

General joint and muscle pains are common when hypothyroidism is not sufficiently treated, and your dosage of thyroid hormone needs to be increased. Joint and muscle weakness and pain, especially in the arms and legs, can be evidence that you need an increased dose of antithyroid drugs for your hyperthyroidism.

Also Check: What Organ System Is The Thyroid Gland In

Missing Thyroid Medicines May Cause Some Adverse Effects In Your Body Says Dr Pradip Shah

Written by Sandhya Raghavan | Published : April 26, 2017 5:10 PM IST

I had a roommate in college who would always request me to wake her up at the crack of dawn so she can pop her medication on an empty stomach . She would religiously take her medicines at 6 am, go back to sleep and wake up an hour later to get ready for class. Only then would she take a sip of tea. I never asked, but I came to know a few months later that the pills that she religiously took were for her thyroid problem. She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism when she was younger and had been taking thyroid replacement medication ever since, every day for ten years on an empty stomach. Out of curiosity, I asked her, What if you miss your dose? She just shrugged and said, I don t know; I never have!

Doctors strictly advise thyroid patients to never miss their medicines, but I bet many of you may wonder what would happen if you were to miss a single dose. So I asked Dr Pradip Shah General Medicine Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mumbai about his opinion. Here s what he had to say.

Why are thyroid drugs prescribed?

Synthroid For Other Conditions

In addition to the uses listed above, Synthroid may be used off-label for other purposes. Off-label drug use is when a drug thats approved for one use is used for a different one thats not approved. And you may wonder if Synthroid is used for certain other conditions. Below is information on a use for Synthroid thats not appropriate.

Synthroid for hyperthyroidism

You shouldnt use Synthroid to treat hyperthyroidism. With this condition, you have increased levels of thyroid hormones in your body.

Instead, Synthroid is FDA-approved to treat hypothyroidism, which is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. With hypothyroidism, you have low levels of thyroid hormone.

Synthroid is a man-made form of T4. It replaces or adds to your natural thyroid hormones, which helps your body to have the right amount of T4.

Taking Synthroid for hyperthyroidism will increase the amount of thyroid hormone in your body even more than its already increased. This raises your risk of serious side effects, such as tremors, anxiety, and irregular heart rate.

If you have hyperthyroidism, talk with your doctor about appropriate treatment options for your condition.

Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Thyroid Nodules

You Don’t Feel Any Better

Thyroid medications do not usually work rapidly. It can take a few days to a few weeks for you to even start noticing a difference in how you feel. If you don’t feel better after taking your medication for several months, you may need a dosage adjustment or a change in medicationnot a complete stop of your regimen.

Why You Need To Watch Out For Weight Changes


Your dose of thyroid hormone is based on your weight, although your doctor has to keep an eye on your blood levels because some people have problems with absorption.

Be sure to report a weight gain or loss of 10% or more to your doctor right away, advises Dr. Skugor. This will help you avoid overtreatment or undertreatment.

At the onset of menopause, its frequently necessary to decrease the thyroid dose to avoid overtreatment.

Yet even when youre on the right dose for your weight, you may be getting more thyroid hormone than your body needs. Overtreatment places you at risk of developing heart arrhythmias and;osteoporosis, a low bone-mass disorder that leads to easy fracturing. One study even;reported;that overtreatment is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.;

Its important to keep your doctor in the loop of any other changes like starting new medication or feeling your symptoms return or;get worse.

You May Like: Can A Thyroid Problem Stop Your Period


Popular Articles