Millions of Americans are struggling to manage despite a sluggish thyroid gland. Levothyroxine, the main treatment for underactive thyroid, is among the most frequently prescribed drugs in the country. But getting by without a functioning thyroid gland can indeed be a struggle. The hormones this little organ produces are critical for just about every cell in the body, and when they fall short, the potential symptoms are wide-ranging.
What to Do About a Sluggish Thyroid?
Q. I am depressed, lethargic and overweight. My skin is very dry, and my hair is thinning.
I have been taking levothyroxine tablets for over twenty years and I still feel like crap. Is there anything I can do to feel better?
A. All of your symptoms are typical of an underactive thyroid gland. Since you are taking thyroid hormone (levothyroxine), we assume your doctor diagnosed you as hypothyroid. Are your TSH, T4 and T3 levels tested periodically? You should ask for those results so you can follow your own progress.
Going Beyond Levothyroxine to Treat Your Sluggish Thyroid:
Although many people do well on levothyroxine (T4) alone, you may not be one of them. There are some people who don’t convert T4 to the active hormone T3 efficiently (Gereben et al, Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, Nov. 2015). These individuals may feel better if they take a medication that supplies T3 as well as T4.
You can read more about this in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. It also tells you how to interpret the results of your blood test so that you can keep track of how your sluggish thyroid is doing.
You may also want to listen to one of our interviews on this topic. In 2017, we spoke with eminent researcher Antonio Bianco, MD, and leading patient advocate Mary Shomon (Show 1096). In 2015, the same guests discussed Thyroid Mysteries, Controversies and the Latest Research (Show 1015).