Q. I have been taking thyroid hormones (first Synthroid and then Levoxyl) for more than 15 years. My doctor has recently started lowering my dose because he is concerned that the extra thyroid might weaken my bones.

Ever since the dosage was reduced I have had many troubling symptoms. My cholesterol is going up and so is my weight, although I am exercising and eating carefully. I am tired, cold and depressed most of the time. My skin is dry and my fingertips have painful cracks and my nails are splitting. My hair is thinning and my eyebrows are fading away. Along with all that, I have absolutely no interest in sex. What can I do?

A. Although excess thyroid hormone can weaken bones and contribute to osteoporosis, getting the dose just right is essential for good health. All the symptoms you have described could be linked to insufficient thyroid activity.

We are sending you our Guide to Thyroid Hormones with information on how to interpret thyroid lab results as well as treatment options so you can discuss this with your doctor.

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  1. E

    I recently found that if you live in a place where there is flouride added to the water supply, it causes problems with the amount of thyroid medicine your body can absorb, so the results of the tests will be wrong. Does anyone else know anything about that?

  2. Dawn

    New doctor lowered my thyroid by about 75%. I started having nausea, headaches, fatigue, depression. He had me double what I’m taking, still well below my original amount and those symptoms got slightly better, but now I have major swelling in my feet and ankles. Related? I’m waking up with the swelling still there! Alarmed!!

  3. debra
    United Kingdom

    Had total thyroidectomy 16 years ago I’m currently taking 75mg levothyroxine daily. I’m having severe depression severe headache weight gain over a stone in a month hair is dry and splitting. GP isn’t at all helpful do you think my levels could be playing up and the amount of levothyroxine needs to be amended
    Would appreciate your feedback

  4. Mary

    Every time , I get down to a 10 or 12 petite, my doctors lower my snythroyd.
    Then I put on 35 pounds within 2 months with hair thinning , weight gain-extreme, nails break, tiredness, dry skin, and others. The only weight loss success I can have is if I drink Atkin soy protein drinks; one for breakfast and one for night. It curbs my appetite , sugar cravings. For lunch , I am sensible. I take spinach capsules, and other nutrients. If I snack , it is a fruit or protein low sugar bar with nuts. I also now and then substitute a protein shake with greens powder that has 8000orac , no sugar and 26 orgainic fruits and veggies powder form in skim, 2 %, or in supple, sometimes a little bit of frozen or fresh fruit. I was on 125ml synthroyd weight 145 size 12 petite then 100ml 165 lbs size 16 petite ….later 190 lbs and size16 wp. Now my synthroyd is going down to 50 ml. Worried ….I have been losing , but scared of what will happen. I do start getting breathless, chest pains, dizzy………….so that is probably why I need to go down on sythroyd. I want to be at a healthy weight and wear nice clothes. Only five feet tall.

  5. sharon
    Remsen ny

    Does anyone know if there are statins in synthroid

  6. Traci

    My doctor has me on Tirosent for thyroid and TSH is a 2.83. I am still not feeling as well as I did in the past when the TSH was at 1.8. I told him this and he instructed me to increase dosage Fri-Sun to 150 mg and Mon- Thurs-125 mg. I am just really concerned whether or not 6 weeks of this increase dosage will cause havoc to my bone density. That is my biggest concern. I don’t want osteoporosis later in life.

    I am strongly considering just sticking with the current dosage and forgetting about it. My symptoms are terrible and it’s mostly a concern of weight gain which I know medication for thyroid is not a diet drug.

    • cheryl
      United States

      Number one: How do you feel at the higher dose? And then number two is how do you feel at the lower dose? Do you get cold, nails brittle, hair falling out, skin dry, fatigue, all those things? We have to listen to our bodies. My doctor recently dropped my thyroid medication by .25. I’ve lost three quarters of my hair, my nails are brittle, I’m lethargic, moody pretty much anything you can think of!

      Have you had a bone density test done? I would start with that, if you have good bone density there are so many supplementals out there now to keep on that way! Also if he’s only having you go up toeon weekends for 6 weeks in my opinion and I’m not a dr I can imagine it cause you any problem but just in case go to your pharmacist ask him which is the best supplemental to take to keep your bone density where it needs to be.

      Listen to your body it won’t steer you wrong, and the one thing I’m starting to notice is people writing about when they lose weight and get down to like where they’re happy your doctor’s lower their thyroid medication, that’s what happened to me it’s just clicking in my head right now. Is it possible that when Maria lose weight our body doesn’t need as much thyroid medication or at least the numbers show it that way but as soon as we gain the weight back on up goes with thyroid medication again!

      This just literally popped into my head because I’ve been on 150 for year, over the last year I’ve lost over 75 pounds….. So is my hormone levels showing really high now because I’ve lost this weight? I think is the question we all need to ask are doctors. I wish you luck, we can’t give up we just keep fighting and troll the internet for all the information you can get there’s so much out there.

  7. Jo

    I’ve taken Synthroid for over 20 years for hypothyroidism and a year ago my doctor lowered my dosage from 175 to 112 because he felt I was having anxiety-type issues from too high levels. However, other doctors diagnosed me with critically low potassium, Vitamin D and B-12 levels so I began taking those. I truly haven’t felt “right” since he lowered my Synthroid, and I’ve gained 17 pounds, have stomach bloating, lethargic, dry skin, etc. Yet when I broach the subject to my doctor he says my levels are “normal.”
    I’m scared because I know how I feel and truly believe I’m not getting enough Synthroid. How do I convince my doctor without starting all over with a new doctor? I feel we need to at least increase my dosage to 125 to see if it helps.

    • cheryl

      Did he drop that level all at once? I hope not, that’s extremely dangerous! Your thyroid medication should never be dropped or changed up or down buy more than .25 at a time, have you had them do was call the t3 t4 uptake it’s a blood test that’s part of doing that TSH. a lot of time your t3 t4 will show that your lo and your kids age will show that you’re high! ask your doctor to run those tests! Next step would be an endocrinologist who studies nothing by hormones pituitary gland and thyroid gland.

  8. Katyellen

    Have been on Levothyroxin 125mcg for about a year…(100mcg past 20 yrs) and my dr. tested me and my level is 0.05 and my dr said it is at a critical level…He told me to cut my pills in half and we will see in 6 weeks. I never knew that my thin splitting nails and loss of hair on my arms and legs and memory loss etc…could be due to my thyroid.
    This is very disturbing and I would really like to get to the bottom of this. My weight gain has never went down even though I eat little. It’s very frustrating and I would love to feel normal again. (I started gaining after 50 and am now 60).

    • nikki

      don’t trust your doctor telling you it’s time to lower your dosage. Mine has been twice in last 2 months, and I almost instantly started going into kidney failure. I was experiencing extreme fatigue, hair loss, weight loss, nausea, severe mood swings, and about 200 other things. But the absolute worst was what it did to my menstrual cycle. It caused an ovarian cyst everywhere. One was so large it had twisted my ovaries and eventually ruptured, landing me in the er with emergency surgery being done once I finally stabilized enough to go under.

      Not only all that but it has also caused my body to start attacking its healthy tissues (known as auto immune disorder) from all the toxins building up so fast. I am get tested for lupus in any 4 hours, I’m so nervous and in so much pain I can’t sleep most nights. Oh and another reason you should always get a second opinion is the fact the doctor kept telling me my kidney failure was a result of a substance that I used to do, to pull all nighters back in college before final exams… oh and college was 11 years ago. Haven’t touched the stuff since. All because he didn’t want to man up and say he was wrong.

  9. rebecca

    After 20 years with thyroid disease, first subacute viral thyroiditis, then hashimotos, viral thyroiditis a second time, being overdosed on synthroid by a bad doc to the point of thyroid storm, a total thyroidectomy, dose changes of synthroid frequently, addition of cytomel but overdosed again, then disappearing tsh and a doc who kept lowering my dose to bring it up (that never worked even when I was so hypothyroid I was not functional), I can tell you all one thing because I have been there; do a lot of clinical research.
    TSH IS NOT THE ANSWER. If you look up Mary Shomon and find the medically published information on how all this works, you will see why, and that some docs do not believe it and that is why so many are suffering. I finally had a reverse T3 and it was really off. Now I take less synthroid and more cytomel and I have relief and feel pretty normal after 20 years of the same suffering you are all going through. Still no tsh, but it doesn’t matter- you need FT3, FT4, and RT3 and antibodies, and your pituitary and adrenals checked out.
    Has anyone read the fine print on your synthroid info? It says NOT to initiate thyroid hormone replacement until all known and possible adrenal issues are addressed. I’ll bet almost no one has had that done. It’s really hard to find a doc who will work with you, and any doc who thinks you must suffer and not have a life to help your bones- well, without a functioning life who needs bones? If you’re in bed or unable to exercise because you’re so hypothyroid, your bones will get worse anyway. The overdoses got mine, I’m only 58 and they were perfect until a few years ago, but now I can get some exercise and have a life.
    Do your research and I mean medical papers, published research etc. Mary Shomon has a newsletter with info and links. Your eyes will be opened, and you don’t have to accept staying ill- if your doc won’t listen and discuss, find one who will!

  10. Paula

    I had a total thyroidectomy 2 months back was put on eltroxine 75mg and it was then raised to 100mg . I have severe joint pain, it is like someone is crushing my joints at times cannot lift a cup and couldn’t drive, by night time I am limping. It appears like my hands have got bigger? Though my bloods were in the normal range I insisted on having my medication increased to 100mg/125g an alternate days. It’s amazing I don’t know the life span of the drug but I have been keeping a record of how I feel and on the day I’m due 125mg I wake in agony then about two/three hours after taking it I’m fine.
    I wake the next day well, take my 100mg, by mid after noon I’m achy and by evening I’m in agony again and don’t sleep. I only upped the med 9 days ago is it too early to up to 125mg everyday or should I give my body a chance to adjust to the new dosage?? Thanks

  11. rebecca

    I’ve more or less lost 20 years of my life (I’m now 58) to thyroid disease. First subacute viral, then Hashimoto’s, then both, then surgery 15 years ago because the Hashi became “fibrous variant”. Because I was so sick and 3 biopsies could not procure any tissue to biopsy for possible cancer, my thyroid gland was removed and it was so hardened it took 4 hours to shave it off bit by bit to avoid damaging throat, vocal cords, etc. It was cutting off some of my breathing even.
    I thought my levels of thyroid hormones would even out without it and I’d be fine, but in 2 months I felt like hell again and have ever since. I have a good doc, goes by symptoms and T4 and T3 since my TSH is .01 on average for several years now, and something was obviously very wrong. Here’s the thing: I read about and asked for an RT3 test last month when time for testing, and WHAM! It was 45.2, which is extremely high. So I’m a poor converter and now know that adrenal function is involved as well as iron, which I do not store unless I take it every day, but do not utilize well at all.
    So after 20 years of feeling everything you have all experienced, back and forth and around and around, maybe there is now some hope that things will finally improve with adrenal treatment so that the meds will work like they are supposed to. I went from young through middle age to old and I’ll never get that time back, and I don’t want other people to be this sick and lose years of their lives, so FIND A DOCTOR that will do an RT3 with the other tests and check your adrenal function and iron.
    It is hard, as many of you have discovered, to find such a doctor, but this is your life- Thyroid function runs your metabolism and all other hormones affect and are affected by it. It is all INCREDIBLY complicated and even my Endo doc wasn’t doing the right stuff. I’ve lost hair, memory, bone integrity, social life, creative thought, and pretty much everything else, but I never quit fighting and now maybe something good will finally happen. FIGHT until somebody helps you, because your life depends on it!

  12. ZIA

    I had thyroid surgery in 2005, and my right lobe was removed. I have been on Levothyroxin every since. About 6 months ago my blood showed I was getting too much thyroid hormone so my doctor cut the dosage down a little. Then two weeks ago my thyroid hormones were up again and my dosage cut back even more. I am now going to an endocrine doctor and have been diagnosed with Graves Disease, the opposite of hypothyroidism.
    I want to know if there a connection between my starting statins exactly a year ago. (Crestor). It seems too much of a coincidence that my thyroid numbers were normal for 7 years, and then within a year of taking Crestor my thyroid numbers have not been normal, and I have gone from hypo to hyperthyroidism. I too have muscle aches but not severe. I have itching, which I never knew until I read these comments above, was related to the thyroid meds. Has anyone else had their numbers change after taking statins?

  13. Eva C.

    Went to cardiologist, he recommended I talk to GP regarding my 0.56 TSH reading, thought I should raise that number. GP told me to cut my 125 mg lovoxyln in 1/2. Had thyroidectomy 20 years ago and never this low dosage and I am frightened to do it.

  14. M

    To Amperia: As I wrote on August 31, my doctor tries to keep my TSH around 1. He says much above that shows the body is calling for more thyroid. Maybe it would be good to find another doctor, one that deals a lot and knows a lot about thyroid, to give you a second opinion. A TSH of 5.43 looks quite high to me; mine was never that high. I think it was around 3 or 4, and I feel better now that it’s closer to 1.

  15. amperia

    I just did a routine test for thyroid. My readings are TSH 5.43 and T4 12.0 The physician who saw me said that it was normal and told me to continue with levothyroxine 50mcg on weekdays and 75mcg on weekends. I continue to feel fatigue, sleepy at anytime, bloated stomach, lots of gas and burps, and hair loss. Please advise me. Thank you.

  16. M

    My doctor watches different levels and aims at keeping the TSH down close to 1.0. Above that, he says, indicates the body is asking for more thyroid.

  17. EE

    I had symptoms for years but doctor went by lab results which had me at borderline normal. I was familiar with thyroid and insisted on watching for it as it runs in my family. TSH was finally way off normal and I was put on synthyroid.
    Dosage was increased to 50 which had me feeling OK for a couple of years with TSH in the 2.5 range. It is now almost at TSH 4, I’m tired a lot, my cholesterol is suddenly high. Doctor wouldn’t raise Synthyroid, but tried me on a statin for cholesterol.
    Worst of side effects (severe muscle pain, leg swelling, trouble staying awake, and difficulty urinating) hit while we were away on vacation and away from medical help, so I simply quit taking statin and by the time I was able to get home was much better, so I have no “tests” to prove it.
    How do I get my doctor to forget about statins and just try increasing my thyroid med since high cholesterol is tied into low thyroid? (I will NEVER take statins again, talking to a nurse I know I now know I was about to go into kidney failure.) By the way, my cholesterol was only 226 and except for just before I went on synthyroid, it has never been in the 200s before.

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