The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that creates hormones that regulate many things in your body.
Thyroid hormones influence body temperature, weight, heart health, and fertility. They regulate growth and metabolism.
When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, you will need medication to treat that. The condition is hypothyroidism. When thyroid hormone levels are low, your body burns energy slower, causing your body temperature and heart rate to reduce.
It is caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune condition that causes your body to attack the thyroid gland. Eventually, this leads to reduced thyroid function. It is also caused by treatment for hyperthyroidism.
OTHER SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
-thinning of hair and fingernails
-increased cholesterol levels
Hypothyroidism is treated by prescribing a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone. The standard treatment is levothyroxine.
Your age and weight determine the exact dosage.
On the other hand, your thyroid can produce an excess of the thyroid hormone. This is known as hyperthyroidism. It’s caused by Grave’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body to overproduce thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism is treated by surgical removal of your thyroid, radiation therapy, and medications like lithium that reduce thyroid hormone production.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THYROID LEVELS TO STABILIZE?
After about a week or two of levothyroxine treatment, you will stop feeling fatigued. You will be monitored for six to eight weeks. After that, you will have to do blood tests every six months to ensure you are fine.
Most people end up having to live with hypothyroidism for the rest of their lives.
Usually, it takes about three to four weeks for thyroid hormone levels to stabilize. This is because the thyroid hormone has a half-life of seven days.
HOW LONG CAN YOU GO WITHOUT THYROID MEDICATION?
You can go years without low levels of thyroid hormone. Some people even take decades before realizing they’re showing symptoms of hypothyroidism.
If you stop taking levothyroxine, your body will take about four to five weeks to get rid of it entirely.
Here are the side effects of stopping thyroid medication suddenly.
1. RETURN OF SYMPTOMS
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly will make your body unable to function as it relied on the synthetic thyroid hormone.
You will feel as though you have brain fog, increased fatigue, increased weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, worse memory function, and other symptoms of hypothyroidism.
2. THYROID STORM
Stopping medications for hyperthyroidism can trigger a thyroid storm, which is also known as a thyroid crisis. It requires immediate hospitalization.
Its symptoms are fever, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, anxiety, delirium. If left untreated, patients can fall into a coma.
3. CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly increases the risk of elevated cholesterol, fluctuating blood pressure, and heart disease.
Low thyroid hormone levels can lead to slow pulse, abnormal or weakened heartbeat.
One study found that hypothyroidism can decrease blood pump volume with each heartbeat by 30-50%.
4. KIDNEY PROBLEMS
Low thyroid hormone levels can lead to renal problems. This is due to decreased blood flow to the kidneys.
This means your body struggles to excrete water and absorb sodium.
If you halt your thyroid medication, recovering from these problems can take longer.
5. IT WILL AFFECT YOUR PREGNANCY
Imbalanced levels of thyroid hormones can affect your pregnancy. If you’re planning to get pregnant and hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it’s best to let your doctor know so that they can plan proper treatment.
Hyperthyroidism can lead to increased heart rate, trouble dealing with heat, tiredness, shaky hands, unexplained weight loss, or inability to have normal pregnancy weight gain.
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly when you’re pregnant can harm you and your baby. It can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, preeclampsia, thyroid storm, and congestive heart failure.
Too much thyroid hormone in your baby can lead to poor weight gain, irritability, and early closing of the soft part of a baby’s skull.
Hypothyroidism in pregnant women can cause fatigue, chills, muscle cramps, severe constipation, and brain fog.
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly for hypothyroidism can also cause preeclampsia, stillbirth, anemia, or miscarriage.
6. NERVOUS SYSTEM COMPLICATIONS
If you don’t follow your thyroid medication rules, you can cause complications to your nervous system.
Studies show that noncompliance with medication can lead to neurocognitive changes that can be irreversible and can further complicate the patient’s management.
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly can cause muscle weakness and nerve injury. If left untreated, hypothyroidism increases the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of sex hormones, which control the production of sperm and eggs.
Multiple studies show that menstrual problems are three times more frequent among women with hypothyroidism. Additionally, women with autoimmune thyroid disorder are also more likely to have infertility.
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly can lead to ovarian cysts, shortened half of a menstrual cycle, making it difficult to become pregnant because it doesn’t give a fertilized egg enough time to attach to the womb.
8. MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
According to Harvard Health, thyroid medications are prescribed to improve mood. It can be used to augment antidepressant therapy.
Studies show that cases of depression are higher in women with hypothyroidism.
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly can increase depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and irritability.
However, the above study also shows that anxiety and depression can persist even during levothyroxine treatment.
9. WEIGHT FLUCTUATION
Discontinuing your thyroid medication can lead to sudden weight loss, weight gain, and a dramatic increase in appetite and thirst.
However, it’s important to note that you should not use thyroid medication to manage your weight. Levothyroxine can help control hypothyroidism induced weight gain, but it can’t control weight gain caused by excess intake of trans fats or processed sugars or lack of exercise.
You also can’t use thyroid medications to lose weight when your blood tests show that your thyroid hormone levels are optimal.
Stopping thyroid medication suddenly can cause your hands, feet, and face to swell. Additionally, it can make your thyroid nodules swell, increasing the goiter size.
When the thyroid gland is underactive, it becomes enlarged. This is known as goiter.
Physical exams and blood tests diagnose hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism to check your thyroid hormone levels.
Studies show that it’s possible to wean off thyroid medication when other alternatives are used to correct high thyroid hormone levels.
However, before weaning off levothyroxine, make sure you get your doctor’s advice. You will likely need to use it for the rest of your life once you start using it.
Unless you were on it because of an iodine deficiency or another temporary reason, you could be weaned off it with the guidance of your doctor when you reverse your hypothyroidism.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t take thyroid medications with supplements or any pills that bind bile acids. Take the thyroid meds and supplements four hours apart.
Always make sure to take your thyroid medication exactly as directed by your doctor and at the same time every day.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]