How To Adjust Or Make Changes To Your Thyroid Medication
What if you have waited the appropriate amount of time but you are still feeling poorly?
It’s time to make some changes to your thyroid medication.
In order to do this, you need to follow two steps:
#1. Get your thyroid tested
#2. Make changes to your thyroid medication
Why do you need to get your thyroid tested first?
Because you need to see how well your previous dose of thyroid medication was working.
You should have a baseline set of labs that you received in which you were diagnosed with a thyroid condition.
When you re-test your thyroid you can compare your new set of labs to the old one.
Did your TSH go down? If you are taking thyroid medication you should see it drop .
Did your free T3 increase? If you are taking the right type of thyroid medication you should see your free T3 increase.
Did your free T4 increase? If you are taking levothyroxine then you should see your free T4 increase.
After comparing your old lab tests to your new ones, you should be able to see if your thyroid medication was working and how well it was working.
If all of your lab tests are going in the wrong direction then you know you need to make dramatic changes .
Alternatively, if your lab tests are trending in the right direction but just not quite there yet then you know you just need to make some small changes to your medication .
There is no one size fits all pattern that you can apply when it comes to your thyroid which makes getting these lab tests all the more important.
What Should Your Tsh Level Be
Most laboratories classify normal TSH levels as between 0.4 and 4.5 milliunits per liter , according to theAmerican Thyroid Association . A normal TSH level in most cases, usually indicates that you dont have a thyroid problem.
TheATA reports that nearly 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Yet more than 60% of those with a thyroid disorder are unaware of their medical condition.
How Does The Body Regulate Thyroid Hormone Levels
If your thyroid hormone levels rise too high or drop too low, the body regulates T3 and T4 levels with the help of two endocrine glands, the pituitary gland, and the hypothalamus.
When the body senses a deviation in the thyroid hormone levels, itâs the hypothalamus that springs to action first. Itâs located at the base on the brain, adjacent to the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus produces TSH Releasing Hormone and sends it to the pituitary gland. This TRH instructs the pituitary gland to produce Thyroid Stimulating Hormone which travels via the bloodstream to the thyroid gland where it stimulates the production of more T3 and T4. This helps correct a drop in thyroid hormone levels.
The endocrine cycle swings the other way around when the levels of T3 and T4 in the bloodstream are too high. When the hypothalamus senses the heightened thyroid hormone levels, it communicates to the pituitary gland via TRH, telling it to release less TSH. Reduced TSH levels in the bloodstream signals to the thyroid gland that itâs time to slow down the production of T3 and T4.
One may think of the endocrine system as an HVAC unit. The thyroid gland is the furnace/air conditioner, the pituitary gland is the thermostat, and the hypothalamus is the homeowner who inputs instructions into the unit.
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Can You Still Have A Problem If Your Tsh Is Normal
The TSH test is a highly sensitive indicator of your overall thyroid health, says Brittany Henderson, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist at Charleston Thyroid Center in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Interpretation can be difficult because there is a wide range of normal on the TSH scale.
Medications and supplements youre currently taking can affect the results of your TSH test. One example is biotin, which can falsely show low TSH levels.
Whats considered normal is influenced by several factors:
Research has shown that levels of TSH tend to increase with age, decrease with pregnancy, and vary by ethnicity.
Weakness And Aches In Muscles And Joints
Low thyroid hormone flips the metabolic switch toward catabolism, which is when the body breaks down body tissues like muscle for energy .
During catabolism, muscle strength decreases, potentially leading to feelings of weakness. The process of breaking down muscle tissue can also lead to aching .
Everyone feels weak once in a while. However, people with hypothyroidism are twice as likely to feel more weak than usual, compared to healthy people (
One study in 35 individuals with hypothyroidism showed that replacing low levels of thyroid hormone with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine improved muscle strength and decreased aches and pains, compared to no treatment .
Another study showed a 25% improvement in the sense of physical well-being among patients receiving thyroid replacement .
Weakness and aches are normal following strenuous activity. However, new, and especially increasing, weakness or aching is a good reason to make an appointment with your physician.
Summary: Low levels of thyroid hormone slow down your metabolism and can cause painful muscle breakdown.
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Causes Of Low Tsh Normal T4 And T3 Results:
Normal body functionMedical term is homeostasis:Subclinical hyperthyroidism shows low TSH in a healthy person in general, body needs may cause short term changes in hormonal levels which appear as little abnormal results, considered normalized body balance and should go inside normal ranges soon.
Causes from outside the thyroid glandMedical term is exogenous
Causes from inside the thyroid glandMedical term is endogenousEndogenous subclinical hyperthyroidism, the source of the mild excess of thyroid hormone in the blood circulation is the thyroid itself, as in Graves disease, multinodular goitre, solitary functioning thyroid nodules, or thyroiditis by viral infection.Is low TSH normal T4 dangerous or cause cancer?
We are welcome to answer questions and explain your results for free.
Things You Can Do At Home
You may have some weight loss if you have subclinical hyperthyroidism. This is because people with an overactive thyroid have an elevated basal metabolic rate . The calorie requirements for maintaining your weight will be higher.
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Signs And Symptoms Your Thyroid Medication Is Too Low
First things first, let’s talk about how to know if your thyroid medication is working or not.
It’s actually quite simple and once I explain it to you, it will make a lot of sense.
How do you know if your thyroid medication is high enough?
Well, if it is high enough then you will experience NONE of the symptoms of having a low thyroid.
So if you are experiencing ANY remaining low thyroid symptoms then you know right away that your thyroid medication is off.
These symptoms include:
- Continued dry skin
You’ll notice that I used the term “continued” in the description list and this was by design.
Because the symptoms of low thyroid present with these exact symptoms.
And if your symptoms did NOT go away when you started your thyroid medication then you know that your meds aren’t working.
If you are experiencing ANY of these symptoms AFTER you start taking your thyroid medication then you need to look at the reasons listed below.
What To Do If Symptoms Persist
In the past, people who felt unwell despite normal TSH and T4 levels were faced with a certain skepticism by doctors and others. In some cases, they would be referred for psychological counseling or assumed to be cheating on a diet if their weight continued to increase.
While doctors today better understand the variability of thyroid hormone replacement therapy, you may still need to advocate for yourself if there is any suggestion that your symptoms are “in your head.”
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism In Men
Although many symptoms of hypothyroidism can be the same in men and women, there are some that are specific and of special concern to men.
Sexual dysfunction refers to any problem that affects your desire for or enjoyment of sex. In men, low thyroid levels can cause several different types of sexual dysfunction.
Some studies report that about 60% of men with hypothyroidism have low libido , erectile dysfunction, or delayed ejaculation. Premature ejaculation is much less common, affecting about 7% of men. Hypothyroidism has also been shown to affect semen quality and is associated with lower sperm count, form, and movement. These factors could potentially lower fertility.
While these symptoms may be alarming, they are often reversible with treatment.
Up to 50% of people with hypothyroidism can experience some type of hair loss, ranging from partial to very extensive.
Individual hair follicles have a specific growth cycle of growth and rest stages. Hypothyroidism negatively affects this cycle, which can result in hair loss. Other hair changes can also be seen in hypothyroidism, including dry, brittle, and coarse hair that may take longer to grow.
Fortunately, with proper treatment, these changes can be reversed, too.
Testosterone is a sex hormone with many important roles in mens health, including bone and muscle growth, sex drive, and normal reproduction.
Muscle weakness and cramps
Other common symptoms
Trouble Concentrating Or Remembering
Many patients with hypothyroidism complain of mental fogginess and trouble concentrating. The way this mental fogginess presents itself varies by person.
In one study, 22% of low-thyroid individuals described increased difficulty doing everyday math, 36% described thinking more slowly than usual and 39% reported having a poorer memory .
In another study of 14 men and women with untreated hypothyroidism, the participants showed difficulty remembering verbal cues .
The causes for this are not yet fully understood, but difficulties in memory improve with treatment of low thyroid hormone .
Difficulties in memory or concentration can happen to everyone, but if they are sudden or severe, they could be a signal of hypothyroidism.
Summary: Hypothyroidism can cause mental fogginess and difficulty concentrating. It may also impair certain kinds of memory.
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What Is A T4 Test
T4 Tests A Total T4 test measures the bound and free thyroxine hormone in the blood. A Free T4 measures what is not bound and able to freely enter and affect the body tissues.
What does it mean if T4 levels are abnormal? Importantly, Total T4 levels are affected by medications and medical conditions that change thyroid hormone binding proteins. Estrogen, oral contraceptive pills, pregnancy, liver disease, and hepatitis C virus infection are common causes of increased thyroid hormone binding proteins and will result in a high Total T4. Testosterone or androgens and anabolic steroids are common causes of thyroid hormone binding proteins and will result in a low Total T4.
In some circumstances, like pregnancy, a person may have normal thyroid function but Total T4 levels outside of the normal reference range. Tests measuring free T4 either a free T4 or free T4 index may more accurately reflect how the thyroid gland is functioning in these circumstances. An endocrinologist can determine when thyroid disease is present in the context of abnormal thyroid binding proteins.
Diagnosis Of Tsh Levels
If a person shows symptoms of a thyroid disorder, his or her doctor will most likely require a TSH test. The TSH test determines the level of TSH in the body, as well as T3 and T4 hormone levels too. It is the best way to know if one has a thyroid problem.
The TSH Levels Test is used to:
- Identify if the person has a thyroid disorder, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, especially if the person has shown symptoms of either beforehand
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Types Of Low Tsh Levels
Low TSH levels can generally manifest as four types of thyroid conditions:
- Primary hyperthyroidism, which occurs when you have high thyroid hormone levels and low TSH levels.
- Mild hyperthyroidism is a thyroid condition that results in a low TSH level and normal thyroid hormone levels.
- Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid because of other conditions.
- Pituitary disease, which causes the pituitary gland to not produce enough TSH to properly stimulate the thyroid gland.
When Do You Need Treatment
Many hypothyroid patients feel at their best when theyre on medication and their thyroid levels are in the optimal TSH range of 0.5-2.00 , Dr. Henderson says. Since lab assays and ranges vary, the optimized levels for a patients specific lab can also vary. For elderly patients, the TSH target is in the 4.0 6.0 range.
Most doctors commonly treat their hypothyroid patients with a daily dose of levothyroxine , a man-made version of the T4 thyroid hormone made by the body, some doctors recommend using both T4 and T3 as the treatment option.
With thyroid medication, the dosing has to be just right, Dr. Henderson says. Too much or too little of the medication can lead to side effects that affect a patients health.
In patients who are diagnosed as hyperthyroid, treatment can include antithyroid medications such as methimazole, that works to control the overactive thyroid. Some patients are given radioactive iodine, which is given in pill form to gradually and safely shrink the thyroid.
If you are experiencing signs of an under- or overactive thyroid, seek professional medical advice from your doctor or a specialist in endocrinology about these tests and treatments.
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High Thyroid Hormone Levels
Perhaps youâve been feeling lots of anxiety before an important job interview â and it just doesnât seem to go away. Well, it could be more than just nerves, since high thyroid levels are known to heighten anxiety.
This is just one example of the consequences of high thyroid hormone levels. Other consequences? Swift weight loss, high blood pressure, and thinning hair â to name a few. When your thyroid hormone levels get too high, you can also experience tremors and an irregular heartbeat â and have a hard time concentrating or sleeping.
As you can see, high thyroid hormone levels can disrupt your health in many different ways â the frightening aftermath of a thyroid gland gone awry. Fortunately, medical researchers and scientists have discovered several different causes of hyperthyroidism . Autoimmune disorders â such as Gravesâ disease â can lead to an overactive thyroid that pumps out too much thyroid hormones . A malfunctioning pituitary gland can likewise coax your thyroid gland into gushing out too much thyroid hormone. Dietary supplements intended for weight loss may also trigger hyperthyroidism TSH levels . In some cases, a healthcare provider may prescribe thyroid medication to help rebalance hormone levels in the body.
How Common Is Hypothyroidism In Men
Hypothyroidism can affect up to 5% of people, although many more may have it without realizing it. Studies show that between 3% to 16% of men can get hypothyroidism, and the risk goes up as you get older.
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Common Symptoms Of Low Thyroid Function:
1. Severe fatigue, loss of energy: If you suffer from a thyroid issue, you may feel very fatigued and sleep more than average but even then you dont feel rested or have renewed energy.
2. Weight gain, difficulty losing weight: When your thyroid slows down even a bit so does your metabolism. Thats why unusual and unexplained weight gain and changes to body shape can be the first noticeable symptoms.
3. Dry skin, brittle fingernails: New wrinkles, dry, cracked or itchy skin patches, and weak nails can be signs of imbalance in your thyroid hormones.
4. Brittle hair, itchy scalp, hair loss: Your thyroid plays a key role in your hairs growing and resting cycle. Without proper thyroid function, too many hair follicles stay in the resting phase rather than growing actively. In addition to brittle hair, thinning hair or hair loss, thyroid issues can also cause premature graying of the hair.
5. More sensitivity to cold, lower body temperature. Always feeling chilly is a telltale sign of a problem with your thyroid hormones, which strongly influence body temperature.
6. Diminished sex drive: Imbalances in your thyroid can affect your reproductive hormones, and lead to lower levels of desire.
7. Puffiness in face and extremities: Another revealing symptom of hypothyroidism is puffiness in the face, most often around the eyes.
Low Thyroid Hormone Levels
Iodine â frequently found in seawater and seafood â is essential to human health. And if youâre not getting enough iodine in your diet, then you may be putting your health through the gauntlet of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid â your thyroid gland doesnât produce enough thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency may result in hypothyroidism TSH levels , but this is not the only possible cause of low thyroid hormone levels. For example, autoimmune disorders â as well as exposure to radiation therapy during cancer treatment â can also lead to hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of low thyroid hormone levels range from the dramatic to the somewhat more subtle. People with hypothyroidism might gain weight rapidly, for example â or find themselves wearily running on fumes all day due to excessive fatigue. Hair loss can also result â and you may be less resistant to cold temperatures. Your skin can also have a cool and dry feel to it. In women, irregular â or even completely absent â menses is another sign of low thyroid hormone levels.
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