Early physical signs your thyroid medication dose needs adjusting

Photo: National Institutes of Health. Design: BOOST Thyroid.

Photo: National Institutes of Health. Design: BOOST Thyroid.

The strength and power of your thyroid changes over time: it fluctuates with the change of seasons, it gets weaker as you age, and it increases or decreases hormone production as you gain or lose weight or if you are under more stress than usual.

The thyroid, even a Hashimoto’s thyroid, can be a pretty amazing organ. It takes cues from your entire body and processes the information to try to give you an optimal dose of hormones. By contrast, taking medication is not that highly sophisticated.

People usually take the same medication dose on a daily basis and expect that their body is always in an average zone. More often than not, we don’t modify medication immediately as our weight changes, seasons change, or anything else happens to or affects our bodies.

As a result, you can have a mismatch between the medication dose you were prescribed and what your body currently needs.

Being chronically under or overactive, or rapidly swinging between the two states, can have long-lasting effects on your body.

Here are some ways your body is telling you that your medication needs to be adjusted:

1. You feel pumped

Is your heartbeat stronger than usual, and perhaps irregular? Your breathing is shallower and quicker and your digestion is faster? Perhaps you have lost weight without any effort? You cannot sleep through the night, and you sweat more than usual?

An excess amount of thyroid hormones trigger all of these effects. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor.

2. Your digestion feels out of order

While constipation might be a sign of a lack of hormones, diarrhea might happen with an excess amount of thyroid hormones.

Digestion is tightly connected to the immune system, however, and it might not be that inadequate hormone levels are the reason for your current digestive issues.

It might be that your immune system reacts to foods you have eaten, stress you are exposed to, or a lack of vitamin D. Whatever it is, if your gut is upset, the medication you take will not be absorbed properly, meaning less of it will end up in your bloodstream and be available to the different organs, causing more symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

3. You feel like you are about to get a cold

A drop in thyroid hormones might trigger cold-like symptoms: sudden shivers, cold hands and feet, or a swollen throat. Thyroid hormones help maintain body temperature, and you might need them when transitioning between the warm and cold areas. Swollen throat happens because the thyroid might try to overcompensate for the lack of hormones.

4. You experience brain fog

Although the brain needs only a low amount of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4 are indeed necessary for proper brain function: in particular, for memory and focus.

The brain is the first to feel even the slightest change in thyroid hormones.

5. Your muscles have a life of their own

Muscle twitching, cramping, and pain can be a sign of both too much and too little thyroid hormones. It can be a sign that your electrolytes, mainly calcium and sodium, are out of balance.

If you feel sudden and intense muscle pain when you have not done any strenuous physical activity, it might be because your thyroid activity has changed, and with that making of not only T4, but also the calcium hormone calcitonin.

6. You’re gaining weight

Weight gain is one of the signs your metabolism might not be working properly. Thyroid hormones are key regulators of metabolism and how bodies use the food we eat, which is why weight gain is one of the early signs of thyroid distress.

Weight gain might occur because of excessive stress, starvation diets, lack of physical activity in winter months, or an increase in calorie intake.

If you eat a regular diet, exercise regularly, and are still gaining weight, the thyroid might indeed be the culprit.

Stay on top of your underactive thyroid symptoms

Track your symptoms and your lifestyle in a free to use BOOST Thyroid app and observe trends in your health. Seeing how your health changes over weeks and months will help when talking to your doctor about your experiences with thyroid medication.


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