Why Doesn’t Your Thyroid Medication Work?

Why Doesn't Your Thyroid Medication Work?

January is Thyroid Awareness Month—Make Your Thyroid Work for You

by BodyLogicMD

It’s a common story: your bone-numbing fatigue, inability to sleep, brain fog, aches and pains, headaches, depressed mood, hair loss, low sex drive, and the weight gain you can’t control—no matter how many calories you cut—finally drive you to the doctor. You’re diagnosed with hypothyroidism and given a prescription for levothyroxine, which you take faithfully. But the weeks go by, and you don’t feel any better.

At this point, if you go back to the doctor in search of answers, you may be told that your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is in normal range and that you’re fine, even though you don’t feel fine. They might offer you an antidepressant to help with the depression and weight gain.

What’s going on when your doctor is telling you that you’re fine, but your body is telling you that you’re far from fine and you still have symptoms? Could your thyroid still be underperforming? A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism sheds light on this all-too-common problem.

For Some People, Levothyroxine Doesn’t Work

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism study shows that levothyroxine as a single therapy is inadequate for many hypothyroid patients. Doctors who practice conventional medicine tend to regard levothyroxine as a quick fix for underactive thyroid, and millions of prescriptions are written each year for patients with hypothyroidism, including those whose thyroids underperform as the result of thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment.

Levothyroxine, a generic drug, is the synthetic form of thyroxine (T4). It is also commonly sold under the brand names Synthroid and Levothroid, among others.

In order to produce energy from oxygen, your cells have to convert the thyroid hormone T4 to T3. This conversion occurs mainly in the liver and kidneys. The problem is, many people’s bodies can’t make the conversion to T3 due to genetic, nutritional, inflammation, aging, or hormonal causes. As a result, their cells can’t produce adequate energy (which accounts for the fatigue that accompanies hypothyroidism, as well as other symptoms).

In the study, subjects taking levothyroxine had higher T4 levels and lower T3 than healthy subjects in the control group. Interestingly, they were also more likely to be taking antidepressants, statins, and beta-blockers, confirming that it’s common for hypothyroid patients on levothyroxine to have continuing symptoms for which these drugs are prescribed. It is common that patients taking T4 only tend to have higher reverse T3 levels and a lower T3 level than patients who take a combination of T3 and T4.

How Can You Take Control Over Your Thyroid Treatment?

While exact numbers are unknown, the most recent estimate suggests that around 27 million Americans have hypothyroidism, with about 13 million of those undiagnosed. Some estimate the number to be far higher. Although hypothyroidism is common, conventional approaches to treatment often fail to understand the complexity of the disease, how to properly test for it, and the best options for treatment.

BodyLogicMD-affiliated physicians are well versed in the complexities of thyroid hormones and treat the whole person rather than just the disease. They look at your nutritional status, hormone levels, diet, and general overall health to find a safe, effective treatment that works for you, a treatment that is tailored to your body, lifestyle, and hormones and will help you reach optimal overall health.

The more you know, the more likely you are to get the care you need. Contact a physician within the BodyLogicMD network today to get started on your path to wellness.

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