Side Effects of Stopping Thyroid Medication Abruptly (& Why it isn’t Safe)

Is it safe to stop taking thyroid medication?

In most cases, if you stop taking your medication cold turkey, you will experience many negative side effects. 

In this post you will learn more about why you shouldn't stop taking your thyroid medication (without physician supervision), the side effects of stopping thyroid medication abruptly, reasons why it isn't safe and what to do instead.

Let's jump in: 

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Is it Safe to Stop Taking Thyroid Medication?

The answer is no, in many cases it is not safe to stop taking your thyroid medication (at least not without physician supervision). 

In some cases, it's actually incredibly risky to stop taking your medication, especially if you have had your thyroid removed or destroyed from radioactive iodine ablation

It may surprise you that your thyroid is responsible for some very important functions inside your body. 

And when I say important, that's really an understatement. 

Thyroid hormone is required to function optimally, but it's also required for you to be alive. 

The complete lack of thyroid hormone leads to a condition known as myxedema coma which can lead to death (1).

Fortunately, there are VERY few deaths from these conditions due to the ability to catch and diagnose thyroid dysfunction. 

The problem does not occur with the diagnosis of thyroid function, instead, it occurs with the MANAGEMENT of thyroid disease via thyroid hormone (2).

hypothyroidism management guidelines

Most Doctors can easily and readily diagnose thyroid dysfunction, but the way that they treat thyroid dysfunction has lead to many disgruntled thyroid patients. 

These patients then go out and seek alternative therapies to try and feel better. 

But make no mistake, the problem is not necessarily the medication (you probably need thyroid medication), instead, the problem has more to do with dosing, the type of thyroid medication you are taking, etc

If you were put on thyroid medication then there is probably a good reason that you need it. 

The problem with stopping your medication (abruptly or otherwise) has to do with how thyroid hormone impacts your body. 

When you take exogenous thyroid medication (like from levothyroxine or Synthroid) you are basically shutting down the ability of your own body to produce thyroid hormone naturally. 

Your body then becomes reliant upon the medication that you are putting into your body each and every day. 

If you suddenly stop taking that medication your body will not be able to produce its own thyroid hormone (usually for days to weeks) and during this time period, you will most likely feel terrible

The symptoms that you will experience tend to mimic the symptoms of hypothyroidism (which probably lead you to your Doctor, to begin with) but may even be worse. 

Symptoms associated with stopping thyroid medication include: 

  • Worsening of brain fog
  • Increased fatigue
  • Increased weight gain
  • Increased menstrual irregularity
  • Increased hair loss
  • Worsening of constipation or GI issues
  • Worsening memory function
  • Increased pain
  • And other symptoms of hypothyroidism

These side effects usually mimic the side effects of hypothyroidism, because if you stop taking your medication your body will not be able to produce it naturally for some time. 

This may sound depressing, but it doesn't have to be. 

Instead of stopping your medication there is another approach

We will discuss more about that below (you can skip there if you want to now), but first I want to discuss some basics about how thyroid medication is impacting your body. 

Download my Free Resources:

Foods to Avoid if you have Thyroid Problems: 

I've found that these 10 foods cause the most problems for thyroid patients. Learn which foods you should absolutely be avoiding if you have thyroid disease of any type. 

The Complete List of Thyroid Lab Tests:

This list includes optimal ranges, normal ranges, and the complete list of tests you need to diagnose thyroid hypothyroidism correctly!

Download more free resources on this page

4 Reasons You'll Probably get Worse If you Stop Taking your Medication

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 (or if it's destroyed) then you are REQUIRED to supplement with thyroid hormone indefinitely (3)!

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. 

In many cases, adding some T3 to your current medication regimen is enough to improve your symptoms dramatically. 

I've discussed various options for patients post thyroidectomy in this post here

This information is also relevant if you have had your thyroid damaged or destroyed via RAI. 

#2. Your HPT Axis is Blunted

When you take thyroid hormone it causes a feedback loop which inhibits the natural production of TSH from your pituitary gland. 

The more thyroid hormone you take, the lower your TSH will go (4).

TSH stands for 'thyroid stimulating hormone' because it stimulates the production and release of thyroid hormone from your thyroid gland. 

The lower your TSH goes the more your body is reliant upon thyroid medication for thyroid hormone

TSH is part of an important axis known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (5).

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 (T4 or T3 or otherwise). 

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

It's important to realize that this axis is altered when you take thyroid function because it impacts your body's ability to produce thyroid hormone if you stop or alter your medication. 

This axis is very sensitive and it can take weeks to months for it to come back to normal

Consider cases of HPA suppression from cortisol (which can take 6-12 months to recover) (6) or cases of HPO suppression from birth control medication. 

While your body is trying to heal you will be left with an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone and you will most likely feel worse.  

#3. Your Body may NOT be able to Produce Thyroid Hormone by itself at 100%

People may assume that when they stop taking thyroid medication their body will be able to start producing it on its own. 

This should happen eventually, but you also have to consider the fact that your body may not be able to even produce a normal amount by itself (thus the requirement for additional thyroid hormone through medication). 

Imagine this scenario:

If you have Hashimoto's, and you've had it for many years, there is a good chance that you have some element of permanent thyroid damage to your gland. 

The autoimmune component of Hashimoto's may lead to the eventual destruction of your entire thyroid gland which means it can no longer produce thyroid hormone by itself. 

Even though this process can take years or decades before you lose 100% of function you will lose 50% of function and so on. 

So, if you decide to stop taking your medication your body can only produce the amount that it is capable of producing. 

If your body is capable of producing less than the amount that you are taking then you will be at an even worse deficit! 

In some cases, you may be able to improve the amount that your body produces naturally, but you won't be able to determine how much this is unless you go off your medication. 

This may be an option for some people, but again, it should not be done without physician supervision. 

The last thing you want to have happened when you alter your medication is that you feel worse. 

#4. Thyroid Supplements do not Replace Thyroid Hormone (They aren't as powerful as medications) 

Lastly, some people make the assumption that taking thyroid supplements (such as those available over the counter) may allow for them to stop taking their thyroid medication. 

I am a big fan of thyroid supplementation and recommend that many of my patients use very specific and powerful supplements. 

But it's not safe to assume that supplements have the ability to replace thyroid medication. 

Thyroid medication is always more potent and more powerful than any supplement (available over the counter). 

Thyroid hormones are regulated by the FDA which means that they require a prescription medication.

The only exception is T2, which is available in some over the counter supplements. 

T3 and T4 will require a physician supervision. 

It is possible to purchase T3 and T4 via online pharmacies, but these pharmacies may not supply you with the correct dose or medication and they are not worth the risk (in my opinion). 

Why do Some People Feel Better when they Stop Taking their Medication? 

If you spend any time researching on the internet you will always find someone who has a positive experience when they stop taking their medication. 

But you have to ask yourself a very important question:

Is there experience, medical condition, circumstances, etc. the exact same as mine?

In most cases, you will find the answer to that question is no. 

It's very possible that these patients may have been incorrectly placed on thyroid hormone, to begin with. 

If you are taking thyroid medication, especially T4, and your body didn't actually need it, then stopping the medication may actually make you feel better. 

This likely has to do with thyroid hormone conversion and metabolism in your body. 

But, let's go back to the idea of incorrectly taking thyroid medication for a minute. 

It's possible, that through incorrect testing of an isolated TSH test, that patients can be placed on thyroid medication inappropriately. 

Your TSH can fluctuate on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and is sensitive to factors such as stress, supplements, sleep and so on. 

In addition, it's estimated that up to 5% of lab tests are inaccurate (just from the standard error of measurement). 

Either of these conditions can set the stage for improper management in a patient with normal thyroid function. 

The chances of this happening are slim, but the chances of stopping thyroid medication and feeling better are also slim. 

Just realize that some people may feel better when they stop the medication, but the exact reason should be evaluated on the individual level. 

Never make any assumptions about your body or your thyroid function based on someone else's experience. 

What to do Instead of Stopping your Thyroid Medication

If you feel like you are stuck with your current thyroid medication and aren't sure what to do then this is the section for you. 

Before you consider stopping your thyroid medication make sure you at least look at these potential options which tend to help MOST people. 

#1. Get a Complete Thyroid Lab Panel

The first step is to get a complete thyroid lab panel. 

I've discussed, at length, what is included in this panel, and you can find more information in this post

The reason that this is so important is that, without it, you are really flying blind. 

Ordering and obtaining all of the thyroid lab tests will help give you information about how well you are absorbing thyroid medication, how well you are utilizing it in your body, how your body is metabolizing/converting it and so on. 

This step is the MOST important (well, second to only #5) for ensuring that you feel better because you can't treat without it. 

If your current doctor is unwilling to order these tests then you may need to seek out a second opinion and look for someone who specializes in thyroid care. 

This lab panel includes the following tests: TSH, free t3, free t4, reverse T3, thyroid antibodies and sex hormone binding globulin

You can read more about what each test tells you, including optimal ranges, in this post. 

#2. Consider Altering your Medication or Dose

The next step, which hopefully follows #1, is to take a hard look at which medication you are currently using. 

Most patients, especially those who feel terrible, all find themselves taking the same medication: levothyroxine or Synthroid. 

This T4 only thyroid medication may be one of the reasons that you aren't feeling well. 

In order for your body to activate this medication, it must convert it into T3 (through thyroid conversion) and not everyone does this at the same rate. 

This means that there are some people (up to 15% of the population based on genetic studies) who simply don't do well on T4 only thyroid medication. 

In a great many cases, feeling better can be as easy as switching up the type of medication you are taking. 

Medications like NDT (Armour thyroid and WP thyroid) or Cytomel/liothyronine, contain T3 and can be added to your current thyroid regimen. 

In other cases, it may not be that you are on the wrong medication, but that you are taking an insufficient dose. 

The answer to people in this category may be as easy as increasing your medication. 

#3. Consider adding Thyroid Supplements to Compliment your Medication

Another surprisingly effective strategy for improving your thyroid is through the use of targeted supplements. 

Some patients may be able to dramatically improve their symptoms (reduce their symptoms) with the use of these high-quality supplements. 

I have several supplements that I have used on hundreds of patients which you can find more about here. 

When you use supplements make sure that you find very high-quality supplements, and make sure that you are using it for your desired outcome. 

Not all supplements are created equal and not all thyroid patients will need the exact same supplements. 

If you know that you have low T3 or have a problem converting thyroid hormone, then taking a supplement designed for improving T3 conversion is probably ideal

If you know that you have low energy from adrenal issues, then taking an adrenal/thyroid supplement is probably ideal. 

If you know that you have gut issues which may be contributing to your Hashimoto's, then taking a probiotic may be ideal

These supplements can be used in conjunction with your existing thyroid medication and with other therapies, which makes them great for "layering" therapies on top of each other. 

You'll often find, and this is the case in my practice, that those people who do more than one thing at a time often have more improvement than those who do one thing. 

Supplements also have the advantage of being available over the counter, which means that they are easy to get (much easier than thyroid medication). 

Whenever possible, it's always a great idea to take your health into your own hands, to do your own research and make informed decisions about your body and health. 

Supplements allow you to do just that. 

#4. Improve your lifestyle (Diet + Exercise + Stress Reduction)

In case you aren't already aware, another very important factor that is within your control is the food that you put into your body and how much you exercise. 

If you aren't doing these two things then you are potentially missing out on an improvement in your symptoms. 

Diet and exercise by itself are probably not enough to "cure" your condition (though it may for some) but it will allow you to feel better, help maintains your weight and improves thyroid function. 

Included with diet and exercise should be stress reduction techniques. 

Techniques such as meditation are also incredibly powerful at reducing stress and help you cope with difficult situations. 

Stress may not always be within your control, but what you can control is how well you cope with it by adding certain techniques. 

I've written extensively about diet, exercise and thyroid function on this blog before so I won't go deep into it now. 

Just realize this is something you should be doing. 

#5. Find a New Doctor (or get a second opinion)

Lastly, and perhaps the most important thing you can do is to try and find a physician or Doctor who is willing and able to help you with your condition. 

Doctors such as endocrinologists and PCP's may, surprisingly, not be best suited to help you. 

These physicians tend to be engrained in their logic and thought patterns and are not really interested in newer or alternative therapies (even though these therapies are well studied and proven to be effective). 

In most cases, it's not worth the energy to fight with your Doctor for tests or medications. 

The chances you of convincing your Doctor to do this is slim to none. 

A better approach, however, is to find a Doctor who is already knowledgeable and understands how to help. 

This can definitely but difficult, but I've put together some resources to help. 

You can find more information about how to find a thyroid doctor here

Final Thoughts

The bottom line?

In most cases, discontinuing your thyroid medication (abruptly or otherwise) is not a wise decision. 

The exception would be if you are starting a new medication, altering your dose or if you are doing it with physician supervision. 

It's far better, instead, to try other therapies (which are proven to be effective) with a knowledgeable physician

Now I want to hear from you:

Are you struggling with getting proper thyroid care?

Is your current physician unwilling to work with you to try something new?

Have you thought about discontinuing your medication?

Leave your comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders.He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances.You can read more about his own personal journey here.

61 thoughts on “Side Effects of Stopping Thyroid Medication Abruptly (& Why it isn’t Safe)”

  1. Hello Doctor Childs,
    I live in Farmington NM and had HypoThyroidism for 35 years. I had a good doctor who took care of me and prescribed 0.1 mg levothyroxine all those years. So I am 61 now and my conditioned got worse. I have a new doc who prescribed 25mcg liothyronine for my T3. It only helped me have daily bowel movements. Previously I was having bowel movements every other day. I still feel tired and wired with my new meds. How long does it take for the liothyronine to work so I can feel better. I have been on it one month. My new doc is saying all my blood lab work shows the T4 is normal and he will go by how i feel. Last week I slept for two days and it did help me to rest up. Some days I feel like I can’t catch my breath and end up
    Resting until my breathing gets back to normal. My doc is going to have my heart checked for heart failure.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Liothyronine usually kicks in within the first 4-6 weeks of taking it. So if it’s going to work for you, you should feel something by that time. Also, it’s probably a good idea to ensure proper cardiac function (with an echo) before continuing to alter that dose of T3, especially if there is even some minor concern of heart failure.

  2. I recently started taking Armour, I’ve worked up to 120mg. I am also 4 months postpartum, my hair is falling out so bad. I want to stop the medication. My labs were are in normal range, just not optimal. I don’t feel any better on Armour either.

    • Hi Michele,

      It would be a good idea to check for postpartum thyroiditis and to also check for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, either of these may explain your symptoms. It may be that you are getting the wrong treatment, but there are also other options as well.

      • My thyroid peroxidase was <0.3 reference range 0.0 – 9.0

        And my thyroglobulin was < 0.9 reference range 0.0 – 4.0

      • Hi Michelle, I would recommend trying a different brand. Naturethroid or NP are better options than Armour. I was put on Armour before and it made me feel worse. Now I take Naturethroid and feel great . I’ve talked to many others who had the same complaint about Armour. Look up the reviews.
        Good luck!

  3. Dear Dr. Childs,
    My daughter sent me your website and I have been reading your articles. I am 84 and in pretty good health. I take no medications but take some nutritional supplements. I am having trouble with my thyroid. I have found an NP that has given me a full thyroid panel of tests. The trouble is no one understands how to read them. I have a TSH of 26.23, T3 Free 2.5, T4 Free 0.9, ReverseT3 ,LC/MS/MS 14,T3, Total 67, T4 (Thyroxine), Total 4.9, TPO AB Endpoint 181, Thyroglobulin antibodies 3, Thyroglobulin 47.4, B12 1050. They did the B12 because I am very tired in the afternoon. After reading some of your articles I asked them for some T3 (Liothyronine) I am taking 5mg at your suggestion in the morning. Now I am wondering if I have done the right thing. It just seemed logical to me since my TSH was so high and so were the antibodies both of which would seem to me keep the T4 from converting into T3. Now this just seems like a by-pass. Can you help me understand my numbers at all and should I be taking this T3 medication.
    I would so appreciate a reply and thank you for the help you have given through all your informative articles.
    Sincerely,
    Elise

  4. Hi Dr. Childs,
    I had a consult with you back in Feb 2018. At the time you recommended T3, cytomel for me, titrating up to 25mcg dose. My most recent bloodwork revealed very very low TSH (which I believe is to be expected) but T4, Total T3 and free T3 were all lower than on my previous labs????
    I’ve also noticed since taking T4 in combo with my T3 (as recommended by my current doc early may 2018) that my fasting blood glucose is way higher than normal. Thoughts???

    Thanks
    Dr. Oikawa

    • Hi Darcy!

      Make sure you re-check your labs to make sure that those results are indeed accurate. Many times lab tests are not, so if they don’t make sense (or correlate with your clinical picture) then re-check them.

      In regards to your glucose, sometimes patients do experience an increase in glucose when using T3 but it’s usually temporary!

      Hope this helps 🙂

  5. I recently had a total thyroidectomy of the right lobe due to a large mass (benign); this followed the loss of my left lobe for similar reasons many years ago. I also had a very large mass of thyroid tissue in my thoracic region which was also removed. On discharge I was given levothyroxine 150 mcg, enough for 30 days with no refill and told to get a blood test 3-6 weeks after the surgery. I’ve been dealing with thyroid issues my whole life (l’m 69) and I waited not quite 4 weeks to have the blood work done in the hope that if the surgeon received the results before my pills ran out I would get a refill. I don’t t know at this point if that is going to happen or not and I run out of pills tomorrow. However my next follow-up appointment isn’t for more than a week. My question is whether it is going to be OK to just stop taking the replacement cold turkey like that until I hear from the surgeon or go to my next appointment? Your opinion will be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hi L. Katz,

      If you’ve had a portion of your thyroid removed then it would not be a good idea to suddenly stop or make changes to your thyroid dosing without physician supervision. It would be better to try and bump the appointment up if possible.

  6. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I am currently taking Levothyroxine 125MCG in the morning.
    I am reading about the health benefits of wheatgrass juice. Can this replace my medication? I do realize I need to keep taking my medication until I get new lab results but wondered what you thought about wheatgrass juice as an ultimate replacement for low dosage meds.

    Thanks so much,
    Bonnie

    • Hi Bonnie,

      I wouldn’t recommend going off of any medication without discussing it with your current physician. It only seems likely that you could reduce your dose if you have some sort of reversible condition causing your hypothyroidism to begin with (but you would need to figure out if this is the case for you before making any changes to your medication).

  7. Hi, Dr. I was on Levothyroxine for about 5 yrs and didn’t have too many issues s until my dose was continually raised. I then went on Ndt. I’ve been suffering severe insomnia since starting this. I also have hashimotos. I’ve decided to go cold turkey and not take anything to see if it’s the meds causing my insomnia. I’m starting to sleep a little better since stopping. But now I’m not sure what to do. I feel like like I just hit a brick wall.

    • Hi Barb,

      It’s probably not so much related to your medication as it is the dose of the medication you are taking. Insomnia may be an indicator you were taking too much hormone for your body. The best way to tease this out is with lab testing.

  8. Hi Dr. Childs!
    So a few years back I went to a holistic Dr. and she ended up putting me on a natural thyroid medicine… in the long run I didn’t think it was making me feel any better, therefore, I ended up going to my PCP and she tested my thyroid levels and ended up putting me on medication. While I’ve been on it for a few years, I’ve never actually noticed a difference even in the beginning of taking it. I’m 27 and I wanted to try to go cold turkey off the medicine To see if I would be fine without it and I’m having insomnia and heart palpitations throughout the evening… I know going cold turkey isn’t probably normal, but I’m a week into it, are the heart palpitations and insomnia normal? I’m thinking it’s just my bodies way of getting off the medicine, hopefully, it will stop soon!

    • Hi Alyssa,

      No, heart palpitations and insomnia are not normal side effects. You definitely want to make sure that you touch base with your Doctor to ensure that it’s safe for you to stop taking your medication.

  9. I recently had to stop cold turkey on my Armour Thyroid supplements because I lost my job and have no Insurance, what do you recommend to supplement, I have an increase in heart palpitations and cold fingers and I am sleepy.

    Thank You
    Debbie

  10. I recently got prescribed with 25mcg of Levothyroxine only issues I was having was tiredness in afternoon hours. I have been on it for about a month and the other day I felt like my anxiety was higher than normal and when I went to bed my mind was racing and I was shaking uncontrollably. Do you think this could be due to taking thyroid medications and not needing them? My Dr said my thyroid levels were slightly low and I’m afraid my levels are now too high is why I’m experiencing these issues. I cut back to a 1/2 of a pill of 25mcg and seem to be doing better. Thoughts?

    • Hi Bill,

      Yes, taking too much thyroid hormone can definitely trigger anxiety and panic attacks. It’s hard to say if that’s what happened in your case, however.

  11. Hello,
    I am 52 and on .5 Synthroid. I have recently moved to a new community and away from my doctor of 32 years. I am now in a conveyor belt system of health care doctors reading online info rather than listening to you as an individual and operating out of offices with multiple people working with the same receptionist or out of a walk-in clinic leaving me alone and unheard.
    my new (?) doctor did blood work upon meeting me and immediately took me off the Synthroid saying i “probably didn’t need it, let’s see what happens with the next blood work”. I have been told by many, many professionals that you should never go off this med.
    I have been off it now for 6 days and terrified I will get sick, lose my hair, gain weight etc.
    she is taking me off it as she said: “why be on a medication if you do not need it?”. She is retesting my blood work in 3 months.
    By that time if it turns out I needed it will I then need more? will I get sick by then if I did need it all along?
    Please advise. Thank you.

    • Hi Lorie,

      Going off of your medication shouldn’t change how much medication you need if you have to go back on it later, but it will probably make you feel worse for a short period of time.

  12. I was taking Nature Throid – 65 mg (once in the AM and once in the PM) every day. I was also taking 1 mg. Twice a day of Estradiol too. My alternative medicine dr prescribed this for me after seeing many different Md’s and they kept telling me my thyroid levels were fine and and I didn’t need thyroid meds not any estrogen. Keep in mind I had a radical hysterectomy in 2014 and went 100% without any hormone replacement for two years. My hair was very healthy and thick. I do have a goiter on my thyroid which I get scanned yearly to check the size. When I went for my yearly in Jan 2018 of this year and I told him I was taking the above meds he said I could have a stroke for the high dosage of both and to stop. He said I did not need any thyroid meds at all. I went home and stopped all meds cold turkey. Within a few weeks I was losing my hair ( breaking off and within 3-4 over half the hair around my face and top of my hair is half gone and broken off and little fine short hairs are starting to grow. My hair is a totally different texture than before I stopped the meds in Jan 2018. I had only been taking the meds since Dec 2016 and felt terrible before that and the meds made me feel super. I no longer had brain fog, I had Energy and I lost about 10 lbs and was about my normal weight gain. As soon as o stopped the meds in Jan 2018 – I gained 12 lbs and became lethargic and got a small gut. Here are my thyroid levels before Jan 2018 when I was on the meds the day that I visited my Endocrinologist’ in Jan 2018 and he told me to get off all meds of which I did. Getting off these meds cold turkey must of also triggered my trichotillomania of which I haven’t had any issues with at all on over 20 years. I have had very thick, coarse beautiful hair until Jan 2018. Now my trichotillomania is back with a vengeance in addition to the texture of my hair being now very fine and broken off around my face and half my eyebrows are missing from the middle to outer sides. Tell me if you think I need the meds – I called the alternative medicine dr and told him the labs pulled and the results and the endocrinologist told me to get off the meds with those lab results And he said he disagrees and that the endocrinologist is basing this on the national average thyroid scale and that he is basing this on me and my body. He said I disagree and this is the reason your hair has changed .Do you think that with these labs I need it be on or off the meds – I don’t know what to do? Here are labs now – TSH – 0.01L T4 Free 1.4 T3 FREE 5.6L. After stopping the meds here are the labs which is causing me to be tired and all the hair issues and trichotillomania – July 2018 current labs now after off the meds here are my labs – TSH 1.48 T4 FREE 1.0. T3 FREE 2.4. – please give me your thoughts whether you feel I am hypo or hyper or don’t need any meds and if so please elaborate? I feel terrible but don’t want to take meds of not needed. Please advise my email is [email protected]

  13. I never had a thyroid problem, until my doctor said my numbers were off after having a blood test. That was about a year ago. I was put on Armour Thyroid. In that year, I have gained at least 5-8 pounds a month. I am now 40+ pounds overweight. I do not eat hardly anything. I’ve gotten so fat (in my opinion), that I’m more depressed, and don’t want to see anyone. None of my clothes fit so it’s easier to stay in pajamas all day. I’ve asked my doctor and she gives me no reason why I’m gaining weight like this. So, I woke up today and said, that’s it, I am not taking any medication, other than my daily antidepressant, again. I don’t know what else to do. I stay away from sweets, and bread and I still gain. I can’t take much more of this. It’s driving me crazy and making me a hermit. I live in a small city, and we don’t have a lot of ‘second opinion’ options. Any thoughts other than just laying around getting fat?

  14. Dr., I am a 66 year old male, who talked with my dr about feeling lethargic and tired. He had recently done a full panel on me and said all looked good except one of the
    thyroid results was “just outside” of normal on low side. He put me on 3 month regime of 50 mcg of levothyroxin.
    I felt no different. Now he wants to add a daily does of thyroid medicine to increase t-4 which 2nd test shows is “slightly outside” average normal levels.
    I don’t want more drugs and would like to wean myself off the levothyroxin slowly. Your opinion? Thanks.

  15. I am a 60 year old female who had her thyroid remain bed completely due to cancer, and then 6 months later a left neck dissection was done. The VA is afraid it has returned. I am new to this VA hospital since moving here (Florida), from Oregon. They are discussing Radioactive Iodine, I’ve been losing weight and hair. Is this a wise decision? They have stopped my medication as if today, no thyroid meds as of this am. Any suggestions?

  16. Hello,

    I was diagnosed with hypothyroidsm in June of this year. I was doing routine lab work for my hormone levels which were totally off and this was discovered. I assumed my issues/symptoms were due to out of whack hormones. My doctor prescribed one grain of armor thyroid daily. Since then, my weight loss has completely stalled (I had lost 40lbs prior to starting Armour). I am restless at night and rarely get a full nights sleep. Both issues that I hear thyroid regulation should assist in improving, not hinder. I wonder if estrogen and testosterone levels could cause thyroid levels to be off or if there is an underlying adrenal issue perhaps. I am considering stopping the Armour thyroid and instead continuing with dietary changes and supplements. Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.

  17. [email protected]
    Diagnosed with papillary cancer 6 years ago, had thyroid removed. My T3 and T4 always come back normal, however I have developed high blood pressure spikes, difficulty breathing at times, wheezing, chest pressure and pain, painful jolts with my heart that will stop me in my tracks at times, and honestly lack the will to live with no answers and this just being my life. It’s ruining my relationships as I am faking being happy and pain free, because friends and family are tired of hearing about me being tired, achy, and sick. I don’t usually write on any of these forums, but I also am becoming desperate. If there is just one other person out there that is sufffering with the same ongoing symptoms, I guess it would make me feel less crazy.

  18. I was feeling horrible and my PCP said it was my thyroids so I went to an endocrinologist who stated she was a thyroid specialist. I had Graves and had an RAI twentysomething years ago.The endocrinologist did the full thyroid panel which showed that my tsh was suppressed but my free t3 and t4 was in range but low. The endocrinologist misdiagnosed me as thyrotoxic, took me off my meds for two weeks and then restarted me at .05mg Synthroid. I’d previously been taking .2mg of Synthroid. The shock of being taken off synthroid and being put back on at such a low dose caused my body to go into shock and I developed insomnia, panic attacks and severe pain and dizziness. The endocrinologist refused to increase my dose and when I complained and questioned her, she dropped me as a patient. I’ve since found that it was because of anemia and vitamin D and B deficiency, that I was so ill.This occurred in May-June of this year and I am still suffering from the insomnia. I am now working on getting my thyroid level back to optimal. I am now taking 125mcg of Synthroid and thinking of adding T3 to this. I would like to know if this insomnia will be abated when I am back at my optimal level. Thank you for your response.

  19. Dr Child’s,
    I have no regular doctor who help me. So I consulted a Naturopathic doctor and he wants to use laser treatments to stimulate my low functioning Thyroids. Then he plans to wean me off my 2 hypothyroid meds levothyroxine liothyonine. It’s been 35 years with the Levothyroxine. And I have been getting worse as I get older. I am62. The Naturopathic wants to put me on different supplements. He said my thyroids can be revived. What do you think?

  20. Hi, Dr. Child’s,
    I’ve been dealing with chronic fatigue, low immunity + sinus issues for years. About one year ago, I decided to devote myself to finding a diagnosis + healing. I went from doctor to doctor & eventually was diagnosed as Hashimoto’s and put on meds… I tried Synthroid, didn’t work. Added cytomel in, didn’t work. And eventually landed on 1 grain of Armour which felt better than the others but still not much relief. I have now recently been diagnosed with Lyme…
    On this journey, I am much more educated about how my body works, especially my thyroid…and now looking at my initial labs from a year ago (before I was put on meds) & I realize, I absolutely did not need to be medicated. My TSH was 1.5, Free T3 was 3.4 & Free T4 was 1. Now with this Lyme diagnosis, I realize my Lyme, not my thyroid has been the culprit all along.
    So, about 3 weeks ago I stopped the 1 grain of Armour cold turkey and have felt fine, better actually. To be safe, I took a thyroid blood panel a few days ago & was disappointed to see my TSH at 3.4, free T3 at 2.3 and free t4 at 1…..worse than they were before I began the meds a year ago.
    My question for you is:
    How long does it take for my thyroid to “reset” post medication? These new labs were taken about 3 weeks after coming off the Armour….I’m not concerned if they are simply leveling out, but my worry is that they will continue to decline (or go up rather in the case of my TSH). When coming off meds, are the numbers typically way off immediately (days) after & start evening out after a few weeks…which would mean my numbers won’t get worse? Or do you think my thyroid has only just starting to realize there’s no supplementation coming in & perhaps my numbers will continue to decline?
    As I said, I haven’t had any negative side effects (only positive really…less abdominal bloating, more energy) but I don’t love these numbers that I’m seeing in my bloodwork. And concerned for my thyroid health and worried I will be hit with symptoms soon?
    I’ve never loved my endocrinologist and don’t fully trust her opinion – so would be incredibly grateful for your insight. Thank you so much.

  21. About two months ago, my pharmacy called me to say that the natural dessicated thyroid I had been taking for 8 years was being recalled and I should stop it. Before stopping, I went to see my internist who told me about Thyrovance, an over-the-counter alternative from South America. I ordered some and began taking it immediately. When I began having worsening gut issues, I discovered that the Thyrovance contained rice powder as a filler. Since I am quite sensitive to excipient ingredients in medication, I called my internist who told me to stop it for a few weeks to see if my nausea/diarrhea got better. So I did. I have been off of the Thyrovance for about two weeks now, and today, I awoke with a terrible headache, extreme discomfort in my abdomen, and terrible fatigue and muscle weakness. I have had really bad heart palpitations and shortness of breath also. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized that maybe these symptoms could be due to stopping the thyrovance. So I actually took one of my old dessicated pills (I kept them because the pharmacy said they aren’t contaminated, just that the manufacturer was recalling them). It remains to be seen if stopping the thyroid pills was causing these problems. I will probably know tomorrow.
    Has anyone else experienced these symptoms? Also, has anyone else had problems getting their NDT in the past few months from the pharmacy?

    • Hi Pam,

      Hypothyroidism can certainly cause the symptoms you were experiencing off of the medication. There are also many other brands of NDT available (at least in the US) which may be available in your country as well.

  22. I’ve been taking Synthroid for probably 25 years. During those 25 years, a couple of times pharmacies gave me generics by accident and they wreaked havoc with my system. Just recently, my insurance has denied a prior approval for the Synthroid causing the cost to go from $18 a month to $70 a month. My doctor submitted info stating the problems I previously had with the generics, but they still denied the prior authorization. I’m reluctant to switch to the generic, but the alternates are the high cost or no medication. Any thoughts?

  23. My doctor just stopped me taking my thyroid medication cold turkey for 7 days to test me again to see a “safe” level. I am terrified to do this! Would it be better to just go to another doctor and get a second opinion?

    • Hi Christine,

      The only reason to abruptly stop taking your medication is if you were taking way too much, to begin with. If that wasn’t the case then you may want to seek out a second opinion.

  24. Hi Doctor,

    I was in the hospital for 2 days after I had a complication from appendicitis for 2 days they did not give me my levothyroxine 100 m and I wasn’t feeling well so I completely forgot. The last day I was there my heart kept fluttering (I have SVT) I realized when I got home and saw my medicine on my night table that I hadn’t taken it and probably why my heart was acting up. What could have happened if I had stayed longer without my medicine?
    Thank you,
    Jocelyn

  25. Hi, Dr. Child’s -I 81 years young and have been taking Armour Thyroid over 65 years. Have tried synthetics and they didn’t affect my levels at all. Recently tried NP version and had adverse side effects, eg. equilibrium and brain fog issues, so was put back on Armour. The real issue now is I changed prescription providers and since Medicare doesn’t approve Armour, my new provider won’t either, even with my Dr. appeal. Since a can’t afford the full cost of this medication, I stopped talking my Armour one week ago and the side effects are starting to kick in. I have tried every avenue available to obtain this med but have had no success. Do you have any suggestions at all about an alternative med I might try? It was about 10 years ago I tried synthetics so maybe there is a new one that I could try. I value your opinion. Thank you!

    • Hi Lee,

      It’s hard for me to give an opinion here because I’m not 100% convinced that your current doctor correctly dosed your medication. It’s possible that they either underdosed you or overdosed you which resulted in your symptoms. I find that most people fall into this trap and they accidentally blame the medication when it’s more the fault of the dose and not the medication itself. There are some people who don’t tolerate certain formulations, however, which is where things can get tricky. But, unless you are sure that your medication dose was optimized, you can’t say for sure that the medication did or didn’t work for you.

  26. I need some advice, I had a sudden thyrotoxicosis attack 3 years ago. My blood work came out in the normal range at that time. 3 months after the episode my TSH was 17 so my endocrinologist started me on levothyroxine,75 daily even though I was feeling fine. About 6 months later I started having overactive symptoms. Gradually over a 2 year period, I lowered my dose to, 50 4 days a week. Within the last 6 months, I developed red itchy swollen eyes I have now been diagnosed with urticaria from autoimmune thyroid disease, for some reason only my eyes are affected. My histamine levels are high, all my thyroid levels are testing normal and I never developed any thyroid antibodies since 3 years of being diagnosed. My PCP thought possibly it may be from the levothyroxine and I feel that I may have never needed it after how this has progressed. I am on 2 antihistamines daily and can barely control the swelling and redness around my eyes. So I stopped the levothyroxine 1 week ago to see if anything would change. So far nothing. Now I’m scared I really need the levothyroxine and should go back on it. I only missed 4 doses so far, is it too soon to tell? Do you have any suggestions?

  27. [email protected]. I need some advice. I am currently struggling with high histamine release showing up as swollen itchy red eyes. After testing from an allergist, it was concluded that it was being caused by the autoimmune hypothyroid. I had thyrotoxicosis 3 years ago and my thyroid tested normal. 3 months later my TSH was 17. My endocrinologist started me on levothyroxine.75 daily. Since then I developed over active symptoms and have been lowering my dosage gradually. I am currently taking .50. 4 x a week. Since this histamine problem started, my PCP suggested that I stop the levothyroxine just to see if it was causing this allergic response. I have been off for 1 week and really don’t see an improvement. I currently take antihistamines 2x daily but they are not controlling the eye problem. Should I stay off levothyroxine for another week and let the levels drop to see if there are improvements? My allergist wants to start on injections of Xolair but I am reluctant to start. Any thoughts?

  28. I stopped taking thyroxine (100 mg) about 6 weeks ago and felt OK until a week ago. I began to feel very sluggish.. Wiped out.. I lost my balance my body temperature fluctuated massively.. My brain fog was the worst ever I had really bad numbness in my hands and arms. In short l felt terrible.I couldn’t go to work or drive. I saw my doctor and now lm back on thyroxine… Its been 3 days and ln feeling better each day.
    I will never stop taking my thyroxine again.

    • Hi Lynne,

      What you’ve experienced is a fairly standard response to stopping thyroid medication. It takes a good month or so for it to be eliminated from your body which is why many people think they are doing fine without it but it catches up with them later.

  29. I stopped my thyroxine (50mcg) 2 weeks ago as per my endocrinologist as my t4 levels are high. I’ve been on thyroxine for 16 years now after having the radioactive therapy when I was 7. Since then I’ve been feeling really different. I’ve been having palpitations and my lost my appetite. I don’t know if it was stopping the thyroxine abruptly that may have caused this.

    • Hi Dianne,

      It’s certainly possible that it is at least contributing. If it persists, or gets worse, over the next few weeks then that is an indication that it is probably related.

  30. Hello There,

    I am writing on behalf of my Mother Annabelle Reed. Mum was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid 12 years ago and put onto Levothyroxine 25mcgs.
    After 3 weeks on this medication, she began to suffer with painful hands which were curling up. We went to see her GP who then took Mum off this medication and did more bloods to test. A few weeks later her GP contacted her to say that she did indeed need to resume this medication for an underactive thyroid at 25mcgs.

    The dosage remained at this level for a few years until it was increased to 50mcgs. Mum appeared to be ok for a few years. However, over the last 5 years Mum’s ability to walk, complete household chores and go out has slowly ebbed away until this last year whereby she is practically housebound. The pain levels are fairly high and leading to her becoming quite depressed and relying upon my Dad to do everything for her.

    This last month Mum asked to see a Thyroid consultant which was finally allowed…bloods with this expert have resulted with Mum being taken off the medication altogether as it was deemed useless being on such a low dosage. A further blood test has now revealed that Mum no longer (if she ever did have) an under active thyroid.

    So we are now into week 7 with Mum withdrawing from Levothyroxine medication and she is suffering quite a lot whilst waiting for another appointment to see this consultant.
    I am writing to you as we are at a loss as to what to do next. Mum’s own GP is not interested in the slightest. Do you have any advice for us please as we are desperate to be quite honest with you.

    Many thanks,
    Sarah Behan
    Annabelle Reed (79)
    Clive Reed
    Birmingham UK

  31. Yesterday, after discovering I had not taken thyroid meds (.88mg) for over thirty days, it become clear why I was experiencing all of the symptoms of a non-functioning thyroid. I immediately took 2 doses, and will return to a single daily dose immediately. My PCP concurred with this plan. In your experience, is there a average time to return to “normal?” I am hoping for a recovery in 10 days, but then again, I’m the guy who overlooked taking his thyroid med for thirty days. Your thoughts, Please.
    Regards,
    John Fitzhenry, Florida

    • Hi John,

      After about 1 month all of the thyroid hormones in your body will be mostly metabolized and used which means you will be starting from scratch again. I would actually guess that you won’t see a modest recovery for up to 6 weeks or so. You may, however, start to see some mild to moderate improvement at the 2-4 week mark.

  32. Dr. Childs,

    I am a 44-year-old woman that had a hysterectomy when I was 28, my thyroid in 2011 and my appendix in 2017. They removed my thyroid because I had nodules and they were afraid they would become cancerous. To back up a bit, when I was 12, I was diagnosed with migraines and was told I was allergic to shellfish/iodine. So I stayed away from anything that had ANY iodine in it because it caused me to have migraines. So, due to the lack of Iodine, my thyroid suffered. When they did the initial test, I was “off the charts hyperthyroid” but I gained a ton of weight. I went from 224 to almost 400 pounds. I was told that my body does things opposite of what it should and that once my thyroid was removed and I got my levels regulated I would drop the weight rapidly. Didn’t happen. I continued to gain weight. I wasn’t able to get my levels where they needed to be until 2017. I became pre-diabetic and decided I needed to make some serious changes. I cut all sugar out of my diet, drank water like a whale and lost 120 pounds. I am a medical assistant so I have some medical knowledge, but not a lot. haha. I worked for a natural-path and she increased my Armour thyroid to where I became Hyperthyroid again with the hope that it would help me lose weight. Again, no…… I can’t take hormones or bio-identicals because they cause me to grow sebaceous cysts. I have tried exercise, plant-based diets, Keto, you name it and I cannot drop the pounds. I retain water like an ocean, I suffer from insomnia, depression, moodiness, increased appetite; which leads me to think my adrenals are shot. I can’t see an endocrinologist until September. I know my body and yes it does everything the opposite of what is the “normal”. I was thinking about not taking my thyroid medication to see if I could possibly shock my body enough to where it got “back online” and I could start shedding pounds. I have been researching and I came across your article. Yes, I know that if I don’t take my thyroid medication I will eventually die, but I am still curious if I quit for a short time if I would start losing weight. I didn’t take my meds today and I haven’t felt the need to snack like I normally do. I have energy, I am not tired, I alert and definitely not moody or weepy. That’s just in 24 hours… I know I need to see my doctor and I have, but as I stated before, I am playing the waiting game. Do you have any advice or maybe even assistance with a question to ask my PCP? I am desperate as I am getting remarried and I would like to shed some weight. Thank you for reading this and I hope it makes sense. I have been told that I am a Science project because nothing works as it should. Way to live life let me tell you. Anyway, thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

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