Taking My Thyroid Medication: Benefits and Concerns
Medication? Yes or No?
What are some of the most common reasons for not taking my thyroid medication, you may ask? Some of the reasons why I don't want to take medication may be the same reasons you don't want to take your thyroid medication, either. I have hypothyroidism, and I go through stages when I feel like taking the medication is useless and unproductive. I base this article on my own experiences with hypothroidism, medications, doctors and general maintenance of medication compliance. This is not to be used as a guide or medical opinion of any kind.
First, hypothyroidism means your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes hormones that control the way your body uses energy. It is not uncommon for hypothyroidism to be present for a number of years before it is recognized and treated.
If you have hypothyroidism and are not taking your thyroid hormone replacement medication (which might include Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Thyrolar, or Armour Thyroid), then the untreated condition may cause a huge number health problems for you. Seeing a doctor is better than making guesses or self-diagnosing.
Consult Your Doctor
Always consult your physician or health professional when making decisions about your medications. Adjusting or stopping your medication should be done only under a doctor's guidance.
Some symptoms of Hypothyroidism you might experience can include:
- Low body temperature
- Intolerance to cold
- Up and down blood pressure
- Problems with remembering things
- Weight gain or loss
- Severe changes in your menstrual cycle
- Hair loss
- Increased goiter
Hypothyroidism can often be diagnosed with a simple blood test. If you have a low level of thyroxine and high levels of TSH this can indicate an under active thyroid. That's because your pituitary produce more TSH in an effort to stimulate your thyroid gland into producing more thyroid hormone. The TSH test is one of the best screening tools, your doctor will likely check TSH first and follow with a thyroid hormone test if needed.
Now onto the reasons why I sometimes prefer not to take my thyroid medication. This thyroid disease has touched me and, my 4 siblings, and mother and father. My sister has come close to dying on several occasions after stopping her medications. She has a more serious thyroid condition than I do. She has taken anywhere from 50 mcg of Synthroid to 400 mcg since she was 10 years old.
Her doctor says this dosage is very rarely prescribed. I am in no way recommending you stop taking your medication. This article is written solely from my perspective and is not a recommendation for you to stop or tweak your thyroid medication. Every person is diagnosed and medicated to their own special needs. I am writing from what I have experienced with my thyroid condition and my prescribed medications.
Some Reasons I Stop Taking Thyroid Medications
- I don't feel any different or any better, so what is the point I ask myself?
- I don't like taking any more medications than I have to. Believe me a handful or more is quite enough. And yes one more pill is always one to many for me.
- I have side effects I don't like when I take the thyroid medication. They can be rather bothersome depending on the dosage I am taking.
- I can't remember to take it every day. When taking multiple meds it can sometimes be a problem.
- It cost to much. Sometimes finding money for an expensive medication can be difficult.
- I can't keep track of all my medications, yes this can be confusing if you take medications for various things.
Let me play explain a bit...
I don't always like taking the Synthroid because I do not always see the difference when I take it. Which doesn't always mean that I don't need it. Because I do need it. But by not taking it, am I causing damage to myself? Because I need the proper amount of hormone in my body to function properly. I think this is the biggest reason I don't want to take the thyroid medicine. I don't see a difference either way, I don't feel any worse or any better, so I question whether to take it.
My brother and sisters take it and lose weight, and feel better right off the bat. Me? Nothing happens. It doesn't make me feel better mentally either. So I am led to believe that I am not better off either way. So my research begins. I do take it when I feel I need to. I do however keep up on my blood work and monitor myself. If I am out of whack then taking the medication is probably the better choice than not.
I take medication for bipolar disorder and adding another medication only aggravates my situation. Now to clarify, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder long before I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. So the two are very separate conditions. I hear people say "what's one more medication?" Well that adds up doesn't it? It is easier to take 7 medications than 17. I worry a lot about what all these medications are doing to the inside of my body. My liver, my kidneys and so on. How good are these thyroid medications? Do the research, on all your meds.
I suppose this might be a lazy way out of having to not take it. In a logically sound argument what is one more little tiny pill? And Synthroid is really just a tiny pill. When I look at it in realistic terms, one more small pill is not entirely a really good excuse. IF it is really going to make a difference in how I feel. IF my readings are low, and I take the medication, and it doesn't make me feel better, but my readings are normal, what do I do? Take the medication? More than likely yes.
I worry about the side effects. So far there aren't any that I can actually pinpoint, as I mentioned I take medications for bipolar and I have side effects from those. So that is really not an excuse for me to stop taking the thyroid medication. I already have side effects so not taking it is not a workable excuse for the most part. If for some reason you have a serious enough side effect tell your doctor, he may be able to try another form of thyroid that may be better for you.
As far as forgetting to take it, well that doesn't really work all that well for me either. I have all my medications set up in a pill container that I take at a scheduled time. So one more should not be a problem as far as remembering. There are many ways to remember to take your prescribed thyroid medication.
An alarm clock, a schedule on the fridge, a pillbox, an alarm on your watch or cell phone will do the trick very well. Taking the pill at the same time each day will also help you to remember to take it. Make it a habit. Believe it or not I do forget to take my medications on an occasion. Not often, but there are days when I am rushing to get out the door and forget to grab the pill container. But otherwise I am on a very strict medication schedule. For some people, it can be an ongoing uphill battle keeping track of everything.
So the above reasons are not really good excuses for me. I actually have no reason to not take the thyroid medication. I have a bunch of illegitimate reasons to avoid taking another medication. A medication that I know I need. So my dilemma is, do I or don't I take my thyroid medication? For now I don't see why I should take it, because I don't see or feel a difference.
I feel good, my levels are coming back a tad low. The doctor says as long as I feel okay and levels remain steady, I can stop taking the thyroid medicine for now. I am not advocating anyone else NOT take their prescribed medication. Because everyone has a different diagnosis. So please follow your doctor's instructions. You and your doctor are the ones who need to decide what is best for you. It is not something you decide to do on a whim.
As far as cost goes, I have an insurance plan with a low co-pay, so that really isn't much of a problem for me right now. However it is a problem for some people. Thyroid medication is not all that expensive. But if you are on a limited budget it can still be unafforable for you. There are programs for you, if you need them. Contact your prescription label company for discounts, NeedyMeds, or search Patient Assistance Programs for further help with your medications.
I take medications for bipolar as well, and sometimes it gets overwhelming trying to keep them all this in order. By adding something else just adds to my anxiety about taking medications. But like I said previously, organizing them into a pill container can help with that. You can do it weekly or monthly. This is a very good way to make sure you are taking all of the meds you should be taking without missing an important dose. Keeping a list also helps keep the medications in proper order.