5 reasons why your thyroid medication may not be working

Do you take your thyroid medications everyday and you still feel like you are taking placebo? Your hypo or hyperthyroidism symptoms didn’t really fade away? Thyroid diseases are complicated. Each case is different and you have to really control your body signals. However, there are some things you should pay attention to.

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#1 Hormones in lab ‘norms’
As I mentioned a few times in my previous articles, the fact that your TSH, T3 and T4 hormone seems to be in ‘norms’ doesn’t really mean too much. Unfortunately some doctors (some!) will prescribe you the amount of thyroid hormones based very strictly on your lab tests. In some cases it may be too less for you, then you would stay sleepy – zombie, like it happened to me, or which is less common, but can happen as well – you will take too much hormones – then instead of sleepy, you will be hyper active. None of these is good for you.
Tips: do not rely on your lab tests completely, you do not want to treat the numbers, but you. When I once was still too tired (hypothyroid) I increased my levothyroxine from 50 to 75mg and felt much better. I am brave, but you may want to ask your doctor before you do that. Also you should have more expansive thyroid tests done, not only TSH level. You can read more here.
#2 Medications fillers
This is ridiculous, but some of thyroid meds may contain fillers which can actually make you feel worse. Gluten, lactose, corn starch – they can interfere with your thyroid hormones, especially when your disease has autoimmune background (check antibodies!). Many patients suffer also from some food intolerances, so if their medications contains gluten or lactose, they suffer even more. Once I was told to take the medication and I felt bloated right away, because it had lactose. Maybe you should check the ingredients list on your medication?

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#3 Conversion of T3 hormone
If you are hypothyroid, you do not have enough T4 & T3 hormone in your organism. Majority of medications contains only T4, so your organism must convert it itself to T3. Usually it works, so by taking just T4 hormone you automatically have T3 in your body. But… what when your body cannot convert it? Some patients cannot convert T4 to T3, so they still suffer from T3 deficiency. Luckily, there are medications in USA which contain both T3 and T4 hormones, so you may find them helpful.
What may have bad influence on T4 to T3 conversion:
  • some medications (beta blockers)
  • Cortisosteroids – this group of medications may interfere with conversion as well
  • high cortisol levels
  • liver issues
  • selenium deficiencies
#4 Low absorption 
Soy, soy-based foods, high fiber foods may decrease absorption of thyroid medications. Even supplements like iron or calcium can interfere with thyroid hormone – it doesn’t mean you should stop taking your iron if you have its deficiency, but it is good NOT to take your thyroid medication at the same time with your supplements. Usually it is recommended to take your thyroid medication about 1 hour before breakfast, and the supplements 4-5 hours later.
#5 Leaky gut
When your intestinal lining is damaged it is allowing undigested food proteins and bacteria to pass into the blood stream.  It causes inflammation in the body and  an immune response. Very often leaky gut is actually the reason why you have a thyroid disease, especially Hashimoto’s. This may also be the reason why your thyroid medications does not really work for you, because you should start from treating first your leaky gut. You can find many information about it for example on this blog or Dr Myer blog.

I hope this article will help you to find a reason why your thyroid medications does not give you expected effects. Let me know what is your experience, maybe you would like to share something in a comment? You can also contact me via iamthyroidtoday@gmail.com

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Hello! My name is Barbara. On this blog I share my passion for natural products, healthy foods and cosmetics. You'll find here hypothyroidism related articles as well as beauty product reviews. Collaboration: iamthyroidtoday@gmail.com

3 thoughts on “5 reasons why your thyroid medication may not be working

  1. Hi all.My brain will explode with trying to figure out what to do .I had blood tests done 8 months ago and as advised by blue horizon I repeated 6 months later.I supplement b12 and vitamin d. I need advice as to whether there is any improvement in my results
    I recently saw a doctor who prescribed T3 and as of three weeks ago i started taking it (20 mg by 2 daily) but havnt seen any improvments of symptons. NEW RESULTS

    THYROID STIMULATING HORMONE 1.81 mIU/L 0.270 -4.200

    FREE THYROXINE *11.85 pmol/L 12.000 -22.000 TOTAL

    THYROXINE (T4) 82.4 nmol/L 59.000 -154.000

    FREE T3 4.7 pmol/L 3.100 -6.800

    Thyroid Antibodies THYROGLOBULIN ANTIBODY 19.980 IU/mL 0.000 -115.000

    THYROID PEROXIDASE ANTIBODIES 6.24 IU/mL 0.000 -34.000

    HAEMATOLOGY

    Vitamins VITAMIN B12 *>1476 pg/ml 191.000 -663.000

    FOLATE (SERUM) 8.21 ug/L 4.600 -18.70025 OH

    VITAMIN D 85.92 nmol/L 50.000 -200.000 Interpretation of results:Deficient

    200 BIOCHEMISTRY Inflammation Marker CRP -HIGH SENSITIVITY 1.4 mg/L 0.000 -5.000 Iron Status

    FERRITIN 64.23 ug/L 13.000 -150.000

    The following is original results taken 6 months

    BIOCHEMISTRY

    CRP 2.10 <3.0 mg/l FERRITIN 76.9 20 -150 ug/l

    THYROID FUNCTION

    FREE T4 L 11.43 12-22 pmol/l

    FREE T3 6.02 3.1-6.8 pmol/l

    TSH 2.19 0.27-4.20 lu/l

    REVERSE T3 16.0 10-24 ug/l

    T4 TOTAL 80.7 64.5-142.0 nmol/l

    IMMUNOLOGY

    ANTI-THYROIDPEROXIDASE abs 10.9 <34 klu/l

    ANTI-THYROGLOUBULIN ABS 20.8 <115 ku/l

    VITAMINS

    VITAMIN D (25OH) L 44 Deficient <25 nmol/l

    VITAMIN B12 L 185 Deficient <140 nmol/l

    serum folate 12.27 10.4-42.4 nmol/l

    I know there is a lot of info to wade through but I would really appreciate feedback as to where to next as still feel bad even though b12 and vitamin d levels have improved.

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    1. Hi Linda! First of all I am sorry for such a delay in responding. Well, if you just started taking your hormones, you may not see any results yet – in my case I got even worse at the beginning: first month I was suffering from dizziness, nausea, headaches. Later on, when my thyroid ‘understood’ that I am delivering hormones, symptoms improved and I started to feel much better. Just your organism needs to adjust, it is normal. As for me – but I am not a doctor endocrinologist – your TSH should become closer to 0-0.5 if you taking hormones. Also it seems to me like you have too less T4 and still T3 is too low. I guess If you taking now T3 and your body can convert it to T4, soon your hormones levels should be higher and TSH lower, and you will feel better. However, read this article: http://hypothyroidmom.com/hypothyroid-testing-what-you-need-to-know-and-ask-for/ I think it may really help you to know what is going on with your thyroid and hormones levels.
      And do not analyse too much, because you will really get crazy – like me at the beginning. Thyroid disease is not the sentence, if you find the main reason of it, you can improve very much even just by diet & nutrients & supplements. Btw, B complex and D3 is very good choice. I also recommend to check ferritin (iron), check here more https://iamthyroidtoday.com/2016/10/17/7-essential-nutrients-for-optimal-thyroid-function/

      All the best!
      B

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  2. Oh I didn’t notice that you’ve checked your ferritin – it is a good result, although they recommend that hypothyroid patients should have 70-90 Units – you are very close, but if you’re loosing hair, supplement iron for instance I recommend Floradix – natural liquid iron. I had 11…so extremely deficient. Keep taking vit D3 – it may help improve your mood & bones. Make sure you take a big dosage like 2000UL, check this out https://iamthyroidtoday.com/2016/10/14/thyroid_vs_sunlight/

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