What Does It Feel Like When Your Thyroid Is Off
Too much thyroid hormone can make you feel restless and wide awake, which can lead to insomnia and other difficulties sleeping or staying asleep. However, having too little thyroid hormone might make you feel lethargic and tired. Either way, your body’s natural response is to try to fix the problem by making more thyroid hormone.
Your thyroid gland sits in the front of your neck near the base of your skull. It’s made up of cells that produce two hormones: T4 and T3. These hormones regulate many parts of your body’s metabolism: heart rate, temperature, brain function, and others. They also help control how quickly your body burns calories after you eat. If your thyroid is abnormal, these hormones may be released into your blood stream in excess of what is needed for proper regulation.
You can check whether or not your thyroid is working properly by taking a look at two different tests: a blood test called an serum thyrotropin test, and a urine test called a free T4 test. Your doctor will usually combine these with other tests to get a complete picture of how your thyroid is doing. He or she will also consider your symptoms and history before making a diagnosis.
What To Do About Overmedication
Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. The doctor will probably check your thyroid-stimulating hormone levels to see if your thyroid hormone dose needs adjustment. Do not change the dose on your own. It’s important to have your TSH levels measured first. Only then can your doctor know whether to change your dosage.
Here’s how the process works.
When you have hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet your bodys needs. That’s why you take thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
A doctor prescribes a dose based on your weight, on how well your thyroid is working and on how your blood absorbs the hormone. Each person’s metabolism is different and serum levels of thyroid hormone change slowly. Your doctor may need to fine-tune the dose once you start taking the medication. That’s normal.
When you first start treatment, your doctor will check your thyroid hormone levels about every four to eight weeks. Blood tests will show if your thyroid-stimulating hormone is at the right level. The normal range for TSH levels is 0.3 to 4.0 mIU/L. But, your specific target range depends on your health.
Now that you know the signs to watch for, remember to call your doctor right away if you experience any unusual symptoms. That’s how you avoid overmedication and make sure you’re taking just the right dose.
What Is Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesnt produce enough thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits in front of your windpipe. It releases hormones that help your body regulate and use energy.
Thyroid hormones help control functions including how your heart beats and how your digestive system works. Without the right amount of thyroid hormones, your bodys natural functions begin to slow down.
Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism usually affects people over the age of 60 and is more common in women than men. It may be discovered through a routine blood test or after symptoms begin.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is the name given to an early, mild form of the condition.
If youve recently received a hypothyroidism diagnosis, its important to know that treatment is considered simple, safe, and effective.
Most treatments rely on supplementing your low hormone levels with artificial hormones. These hormones will replace what your body isnt producing on its own and help return your bodys functions to normal.
Recommended Reading: What Can I Take For Thyroid Pain
Main Causes Of Low Tsh
Now that you understand what the TSH does in the body we can discuss conditions which may cause your TSH to be lower than normal.
When evaluating your TSH there are 3 primary conditions that can alter your TSH and lead to a low TSH:
#1. Too much thyroid production
The most common cause of a low TSH is from the condition known as hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition which causes abnormal production of thyroid hormone that exists outside of the normal feedback loops meant to protect this from happening.
The most common cause of this condition is the autoimmune Graves’ disease and is probably the main reason that you may experience a low TSH .
If your body produces too much thyroid hormone then that thyroid hormone will feedback to your brain and it will naturally respond by reducing the TSH to try and protect against too much thyroid hormone.
Identifying a low TSH caused by hyperthyroidism is quite easy because the TSH will be low and the free T3 will often be high .
In addition, you might also see the presence of thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin in the bloodstream.
We won’t focus too much on this today because the diagnosis and management of hyperthyroidism are relatively easy compared to the other conditions we will discuss.
#2. Too much thyroid medication
Another increasingly common condition which may lead to a low TSH is from the use of prescription thyroid medications.
This is both a good and a bad thing.
Consider this example:
Taking Synthroid With Food
You should take Synthroid on an empty stomach without food. If you do eat something, and you forget to take Synthroid, call your doctor or pharmacist. Theyll recommend how long youll need to wait after eating before you take Synthroid. This length of time may depend on the type of food you ate and whether you took any other medications.
You may need to wait 4 hours to take your Synthroid after eating. This is sometimes the case so that Synthroid doesnt interact with foods or other medications in your body.
If you have questions about when to take Synthroid around meals, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Recommended Reading: Thyroid And Menopause Weight Gain
How Do You Become Overmedicated
If you are taking thyroid hormone replacement medication prescribed by your doctor, how can you become overmedicated? There are several ways that this can happen.
Your doctor prescribed a dose that is too high. Especially when you are first diagnosed, or when your dosage is being increased, your healthcare provider may overestimate the dose you need, and accidentally overmedicate you.
Your doctor made a mistake. There are times when doctors write down incorrect dosage or prescribing instructions on a prescription pad, or enter the wrong information in an automated system. Even a small difference in pill size, or a mistake that has you taking two pills a day instead of one, can be enough to quickly make you overmedicated.
The pharmacy made a mistake. Pharmacies frequently make errors, including:
Filling your prescription with the wrong medication
Filling your prescription with pills at the wrong dosage, or providing incorrect dosage instructions
Substituting a brand name drug with a generic, without approval
You should always check your medication carefully when receiving it from your pharmacy. Verify that you have the correct medication at the correct dosage.
You are taking generic levothyroxine. can vary in potency, depending on its manufacturer. As a result, when you get a refill of generic levothyroxine, you may get more potent pills, even at the same dosage, which can result in overmedication.
What Are The Side Effects Of A Thyroid Medication Overdose
When blood levels of thyroid hormone are too low, doctors prescribe thyroid medication.If a person takes too much thyroid medication, the result is the same as if the person has hyperthyroidism, a natural form of thyroid hormone overproduction. Thyroid hormone affects nearly every tissue in the body, so too much thyroid hormone medication speeds up the entire system, according to Drugs.com. Symptoms of a thyroid medication overdose range from mild to fatal, depending on the amount of medication taken.
Read Also: What Doctor Do You See For Thyroid Issues
How It Works For Hypothyroidism
With hypothyroidism, your body doesnt make enough thyroid hormones. The main thyroid hormones in your body are T3 and T4. By taking Synthroid, youre replacing your bodys T4. And your body then uses T4 to make T3.
Synthroid helps to bring your thyroid hormone levels back to a normal range. And it also helps reduce your symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Taking Too Much Thyroid Hormone And Thinking Its Harmless
The synthetic thyroid hormone T4 is relatively safe, and you shouldn’t worry if you accidentally take an extra dose, Bianco says. But taking an excessive amount could have side effects it can make you feel tired, affect your sleep and concentration, lead to bone loss, or cause irregular heartbeats, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you take combination therapy, which contains both T4 and T3, the medication needs to be taken precisely as prescribed, as taking too much can be dangerous. The ATA notes that potential side effects of taking too much combination therapy include a racing pulse, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and problems with your heart and bones. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you accidentally take more than prescribed.
Don’t Miss: How Long For Thyroid Medicine To Work
What Should You Do If You Forget To Take Your Thyroid Medication
Take your medication as soon as you realized you forgot it. However, if you remember close within the time of taking your next dose, it may be best to skip it and resume your usual schedule.
Keep in mind that the same rules apply for taking a missed dose at another time in the day. Therefore, it is important not to take the medication with meals, other medicines, or supplements. Specific components of food and supplements, like calcium, can impact the total absorption of thyroid medication.
For example, maybe you take your thyroid medication first thing every morning but forgot until lunchtime. You will want to space out your meal and your medication. Ideally, you hold off on your lunch until you have taken your thyroid medication and have allowed an hour to pass. Similarly, if you usually take your medication before bed but forgot, try to take it first thing in the morning before eating, and then resume your usual schedule.
If you have missed two or more doses in a row, you need to let your doctor know so they can advise you on the best plan for getting back on track. Never take a double dose to make up for missing a previous dose.
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.
You May Like: How To Stop Thyroid Medication
What Is The Best Way To Take Thyroid Hormone
The maintenance of steady and predictable thyroid hormone levels in the blood is essential to health . Patients with hypothyroidism need to take thyroid hormone by mouth as a medication each day. Dietary habits can influence how the body absorbs thyroid hormone.
Thyroid medication should be taken on an empty stomach, around the same time each day. Afterwards, we recommend avoiding eating or drinking for 30-60 minutes. Most of our patients take thyroid hormone in the morning upon waking. Breakfast, including any coffee or milk, can be eaten 30-60 minutes later. The second most popular method is to take thyroid hormone in the evening, at least 3-4 hours after any food intake. You should try to establish a routine that allows you to be consistent each day.
Certain medications and supplements decrease absorption of thyroid hormone and should be taken 3-4 hours after taking thyroid hormone. These include fiber supplements, calcium and iron supplements, proton pump inhibitors , soy products, and multivitamins with minerals.
Synthroid And Lab Tests
Synthroid may affect certain blood tests, such as those used to check your thyroid hormone levels. In addition, a supplement called biotin may interact with labs that are used to check thyroid hormone levels. Both of these interactions are described below.
Biotin and blood tests used to monitor your thyroid
affect the blood tests used to check thyroid hormone levels. In fact, biotin may cause certain blood tests to show a high level of thyroid hormone in your body.
But this interaction is just between the blood test and the biotin supplement. It doesnt necessarily mean that you have too much thyroid hormone in your body.
If you take biotin, your doctor may have you take less of the supplement for a few days before you have labs to check your thyroid. Or your doctor may recommend that you stop taking the biotin supplement before your labs.
Synthroid use before having blood tests to monitor your thyroid
While youre taking Synthroid, your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. This is done to be sure that your levels are within a normal range.
But keep in mind that Synthroid is a man-made form of the natural thyroid hormone called T4. This means that if you take the drug before having blood work, your T4 level may be falsely elevated .
Synthroid comes as tablets that are taken by mouth. You should take Synthroid according to your doctors or healthcare providers instructions.
Don’t Miss: Houston Thyroid And Endocrine Specialists
Synthroid For Tsh Suppression In People With A Certain Type Of Thyroid Cancer
Synthroid is approved for use in people with thyrotropin-dependent well-differentiated thyroid cancer. For this condition, Synthroid is used to suppress your levels of a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone . When given as part of thyroid cancer treatment, Synthroid is used along with radioactive iodine treatment and surgery.
For more details on using Synthroid for this type of thyroid cancer, see the Synthroid uses section below.
What Can Happen If I Stop Taking My Thyroid Medication
If you stop your thyroid medication abruptly, symptoms of hypothyroidism will likely return.
If hypothyroidism is left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems. You may experience mood swings, irritability, and slowed thoughts. In fact, hypothyroidism is one of the reversible causes of dementia.
Hypothyroidism can also damage your nerves, raise your risk of heart problems, and affect your fertility. And hypothyroidism is especially dangerous if youre pregnant. It can cause risks to both the pregnant mother and baby.
Severe hypothyroidism can be life-threatening. In rare cases, your body could slow down so much that you enter a coma. This can even lead to death.
Read Also: Armor Thyroid And Weight Loss
Synthroid For Tsh Suppression
Synthroid is approved to suppress levels of thyroid stimulating hormone . Its approved for this use in people with a form of thyroid cancer called thyrotropin-dependent well-differentiated thyroid cancer.
TSH stimulates your thyroid to make thyroid hormones. In addition, TSH is responsible for growth of cells in your thyroid gland, including growth of cancerous cells. By decreasing your TSH level, Synthroid can help decrease the growth of certain types of thyroid cancer.
Normally, when your thyroid hormone levels are low, your body makes TSH. This signals your thyroid to make more thyroid hormones. However, if youre taking Synthroid, your thyroid hormone levels wont be low. So your body wont need to make TSH, and your TSH level will be lower than usual.
With a lower TSH level, growth of cancer in your thyroid may decrease. When Synthroid is used for TSH suppression, the drug is meant to be used along with surgery and radioactive iodine treatment.
Effectiveness for TSH suppression
recommended in some people with high-risk forms of thyroid cancer. Levothyroxine is the recommended drug to use alongside surgery and radioactive iodine treatment.
There arent any clinical trials comparing TSH suppression with Synthroid to that of a placebo . However, levothyroxine is considered the recommended drug for this use.
For information on Synthroids history and the lack of clinical studies of this drug, see the History of Synthroid section just above.
Misuse Of Levothyroxine And Possible Overdose
Unlike other drugs of abuse known to cause euphoria or other pleasurable effects, levothyroxine is often misused for more pragmatic reasons.
On September 2015, Sports Illustrated mentioned that anti-doping agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom lobbied for thyroid medications to be added to the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Association.
Athletes who have thyroid issues can use levothyroxine to combat normal feelings of fatigue. Doping agencies in the U.S. and United Kingdom felt that healthy athletes might misuse thyroid hormone replacement medications to improve their stamina.
Hypothyroid and other thyroid complications often cause a persons metabolism to slow down. When a person takes medication, they might lose weight as their metabolism normalizes.
These symptoms require swift medical attention. Call 911.
You May Like: Treatment Of Medullary Thyroid Cancer
How Long Does Synthroid Stay In Your System
Synthroid, because it is a T4-only thyroid medication, has a half-life of around 5-7 days .
What does that mean?
It means that it will take 5 half-lives for this medication to be nearly completely eliminated from your system.
If you do the math you find that Synthroid will be in your system for a total of about 35 days.
And by metabolism, I mean that your body will basically use up all of that thyroid hormone for cellular function.
This is both good and bad.
Bad in the sense that if you take too much thyroid medication it may remain in your system for a long period of time and good in the sense that if you miss a dose here or there its probably not going to affect you because you have a significant amount built up in your system.
But its important to note that just because its in your system for 35 days doesnt mean that it will be equally potent throughout all of those days.
Around day 17-18 the concentration of Synthroid will be about half of what you took originally.