A lot of patients are afraid of hypothyroidism medication. If you have come across stories online of people stopping their medication and feeling better, you may be tempted to do the same.
But stop and think, is their case really the same as yours? Their diagnosis, lifestyle, disease severity, and age may all be different. Rather than rushing to stop your tablets, let’s clarify your doubts and help you understand your health better.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the use of thyroid medication. These may spark fear in you. If your thyroid doctor has also started you on tablets and you are concerned, read on.
Myth 1: If you start taking tablets once, you will have to take them forever.
Fact: Thyroid medication doses can be modified, reduced, and even stopped over time. Each case is different, and the duration for which thyroid medication is required depends upon a lot of factors.
Imagine a big bottle that has only 200ml of water in it. If you want half a litre of water, can you get it from the bottle? Unless you add some water from outside, it will not be possible. At the same time, adding water will not harm what was already in the bottle.
Thyroid treatment is similar to this. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, there is autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland. This means that the immune cells of your body have damaged the thyroid tissue. This damaged tissue will not be able to produce thyroid hormones.
What hypothyroidism medication does is provide you with the hormones that your body needs to perform its daily activities. This may not be the case forever. An important part of understanding how to control thyroid disease is that it is about much more than just taking tablets. Lifestyle changes are the most important, especially if you want to learn how to cure thyroid disease permanently.
However, in case your thyroid gland has been surgically removed or if you have taken radioactive iodine therapy it is vital for you to take thyroid medication forever. These are cases in which your body no longer has any thyroid tissue that can produce the hormones.
Myth 2: Hypothyroidism medication is artificial hormones. It is safer to opt for natural treatment options.
Fact: Thyroid medication is a synthetic form of the hormone thyroxine that is produced by the body. This is so that the tablet can be well absorbed and used by the body.
At Jeevam Health, we promote dietary changes and lifestyle alterations to all our clients. However, it is not always possible to control disease symptoms with these alone. The reason why all of these changes are crucial is to control the disease. It is a part of addressing the root cause of the disease.
In functional medicine, each thyroid treatment plan is individualised. What may be a trigger for you may not be so for someone else. However, this form of treatment requires sustainability. Only when you follow the plan for several months will you see the changes you desire. In the meantime, your body still needs hormones. Levothyroxine tablets are the best and safest way to meet this need.
Over time, your doctor may choose to reduce the dose of thyroid medication or even eliminate it. However, this decision is taken by a medical professional only
Myth 3: Hypothyroidism medication has a lot of side effects.
Fact: All medications from Ayurvedic remedies to regular paracetamol or antibiotics, have the potential to cause side effects.
To reduce the side effects of thyroid medication, it is important to take it as advised by your doctor only. When the dose is higher than required, it increases the chances of developing side effects. These are usually similar to the symptoms of an overactive thyroid.
If you experience any discomfort after starting thyroid medication, make sure to inform your doctor. They may change the dose or change the brand of medication to better suit your needs. When you are learning how to control your thyroid disease, it is a good idea to educate yourself about the potential side effects so you remain alert.
Myth 4: You can stop taking your thyroid medication once your symptoms are controlled.
Fact: You can only stop the tablet or reduce its dose if your doctor tells you to.
A few weeks after starting thyroid medication you might start to feel a lot better. This could mean higher energy levels, improved sleep, or better digestion. If you are regular with a hypothyroidism diet, you might even lose weight.
However, this is because the tablets you are taking are doing the job that your thyroid hormone is supposed to do in your body. It does not mean that your thyroid is suddenly able to produce enough hormones to meet its needs.
If you are concerned that your doctor is giving you medication that is unnecessary, it is better to take a second opinion than manipulate the doses yourself. Suddenly stopping the medication can worsen symptoms of hypothyroidism. Even if your doctor wants to stop the tablet, they will do so by reducing the dose gradually.
Myth 5: Thyroid medication is an unavoidable part of hypothyroidism treatment. As soon as you are diagnosed with thyroid disease, you will be started on tablets.
Fact: Thyroid medication is not needed in all cases.
Medication is only given in cases of hypothyroidism where there is a diagnosed deficiency of hormones. This means that your laboratory reports show that your body is not producing enough T3 and T4.
Even if antibodies are detected, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treatment is not always tablets. The ultimate decision depends on the levels of serum TSH, free T3, and free T4. This is also why it is important to perform a complete panel of investigations. Checking only TSH levels alone can be misleading.
Another mistake is taking thyroid medication for subclinical hypothyroidism. Suppose you are feeling tired and you visit a doctor. The doctor finds that your TSH levels are slightly higher than normal and starts you on medication. This might be the wrong approach, and you may end up taking tablets when not required.
As per guidelines, not all cases with only elevated TSH need treatment with medications. It depends on the level of TSH. If you are trying to get pregnant, your doctor may prescribe tablets (and rightly so!). However, in other cases, you may just need to alter your lifestyle and get the hormone levels rechecked.
Irrespective of how much content you consume online, your thyroid specialist is the best person to alleviate your fears. Make sure that you consult a doctor who makes you feel heard. This will allow you to openly share your questions and concerns. Your doctor is familiar with your history and specific concerns and is the first person you should contact.
The bottom line:
Hypothyroidism medication is safe if taken correctly. If you have any concerns about taking the medication, clarify them with your doctor at the outset. Changing the dose or stopping the tablet abruptly can be dangerous and should be avoided.
Want to consult the top thyroid experts to make sure you get the best care? That’s exactly what we offer.