How long did it take you to adjust to taking Synthroid?
December 11, 2008 12:51 PM   Subscribe

How long did it take you to adjust to taking Synthroid/levothyroxine? I just began taking 25mcg this week and I'm feeling weirder by the day! I've tried googling for info, but all I can find is hysteria-filled message boards claiming levothyroxine is manufactured by Satan himself.
posted by specialfriend to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My father adjusted pretty quickly. Gained a significant amount of weight over the next year or so, but other than that, his energy levels normalized almost immediately.
posted by aleahey at 1:02 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't recall feeling "weird" at all...I started feeling better pretty fast though. However I take a lower dosage (10mcg) than you. I can't imagine why people are's amazing how much better I felt once I found out I was hypothyroid and started taking it. Call your endocrinologist?
posted by radioamy at 1:03 PM on December 11, 2008

I had absolutely no side effects either when I started or when I change doses. (My dose has been adjusted a ton, as yours eventually may be as they monitor you.) I take 137s.
posted by GaelFC at 1:05 PM on December 11, 2008

I have been taking Levoxyl (another brand of levothyroxine) since I had a total thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer. That's a totally different scenario from yours, since my level first totally tanked and then went up to normal, but for me the whole process took about two months. I felt like crap, felt like crap, felt like crap, then one Tuesday I woke up and felt great, and have felt fine ever since (well, I've got some other problems now, but until those popped up I felt fine). I take 100 mcg. I actually felt better than I ever did before the thyroidectomy. Never gained weight. My endo got the dose right on the first try, so never changed doses. In my experience, levothyroxine is nothing but good.

It might help if you gave us a little more detail about feeling "weirder by the day." Weirder how?
posted by HotToddy at 1:08 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

The strange effects are mostly mental. A strange combination of feeling jumpy and out-of-body spacey.
posted by specialfriend at 1:18 PM on December 11, 2008

My mom had the same thing you did when she was on the generic. Jumpy, spacey, teary, over emotional, but when she switched to the brand name all those symptoms subsided, and then of course she met several people who had the same experience. If you're on the generic, you might want to look into the brand name if the feelings don't subside.
posted by milarepa at 1:24 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Piggybacking on milarepa's comment, never let anyone say "oh, it's the same thing!" if you suggest another brand.

I'm on Levoxyl and Cytomel, and I settle for no others. I check the bottles at the pharmacy register before I leave.
posted by jgirl at 1:44 PM on December 11, 2008

The only side effect I've noticed was a shortening of my girly cycle to something more "normal" (normal for me is ~33 days), and some weight gain. I started synthroid the first time at 14, gave it up when I was 19 for these exact reasons (stupid, i know), and started again when I was in my late 20s. The second time I started right at my old dose of 125mcg, and didn't notice a thing because I was on the pill at the time. I have, however, noticed improvements in some of the effects of my hypothyroidism since I started back again.
posted by cgg at 2:04 PM on December 11, 2008

My mom had about a 2 week adjustment period. During those 2 weeks she was pretty much a zombie. She would forget what she was saying in the middle of sentences, cry unexpectedly and was generally sort of out of focus and incoherent. And that was when she was awake. After the first week, she told her doctor how horrible she felt and they adjusted her medication (increased her dosage but stayed the same brand).

By the end of week 2, she said it was like a timer went off and she was suddenly just fine -- even improved in some ways, better than she had been before, due to what she assumed was low-functioning thyroid all along (she started it because she had her thyroid removed due to goiters.) Hope this is useful.
posted by macadamiaranch at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2008

I started the generic version a year ago, and it's been trouble-free. Talk to your pharmacist & your doctor. Your doctor may want to test your blood levels. Your side effects should be taken seriously.
posted by theora55 at 2:14 PM on December 11, 2008

It took me a couple of weeks when I first started (many years ago), and it usually takes a week or two for me to adjust to a new dose when it occasionally needs to be adjusted.

If you're still feeling weird in a week, ask to get your TSH checked. Or ask to try one of the other brands. I feel fine on Synthroid or Levoxyl (which used to be officially generic, but is now one of the "brand-generics"), but get crazy shortness of breath and heart palpitations on Levothroid.
posted by scody at 2:27 PM on December 11, 2008

nthing the brand-name versus generic thing. When I was first put on levothyroxine, I was on a generic, and got a refill the second month with a different type. The pharmacy staff said it was the same. I nearly immediately felt a difference (~2 days) and felt really... off. My doctor put me on Levoxyl and I felt great after a couple of weeks. I didn't have any odd side effects with Levoxyl, though, I just felt tired and foggy-headed like I usually did before I started taking thyroid medication and then a couple of weeks into it the fog cleared. Been fine ever since. I'm on 50mcg.
posted by bedhead at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2008

I'm on the generic, 50 micrograms, and feel so much better since I've been on the stuff that it's like night and day. I have Hashimoto's and a "multinodular goiter." The thyroid hormone wrought a miracle (lost weight! no more insulin resistance and high cholesterol! no more daytime foggies! I could go on) once I went up from 25 mcg to 50. And this happened, I swear, within a week.

You may need a dosage adjustment, or you may need to switch brands. Anecdotally, some people do report a huge difference using the brand name.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been on the generic for years. Give it a few weeks and you'll be fine.
posted by luckypozzo at 4:30 PM on December 11, 2008

It's important to remember when starting thryoid replacement that you may have to have lab work done to get the dose just right. I was trembling and couldn't sleep, my dose was too high. When I feel more tired than normal, it's one of the first things my internist checks.

Remember, the numbers (lab values) aren't absolutes. There is a point where it may come down to two different doses, and you have to pick which one you feel better on, (it happened to me).

I seem to do better on Levoxyl name brand. It used to be (not sure if it still is) that hormone replacement (yes--thyroid is a hormone) landed in the category of insurance having to pay for brand name. Again, not sure if that is still the case.

You should notice a difference in a few weeks. IANAD, but I think you may want to call or e-mail your physician to see what he/she thinks and if it needs to be adjusted.

Hope you feel like yourself again soon!
posted by 6:1 at 6:34 PM on December 11, 2008

i felt a hugely increased appetite for about 2 weeks, and again for another 2 weeks every time my dosage was adjusted upward. i also broke out with terrible acne, but that has subsided (took about two months once my final dosage was established). i felt better in terms of energy and mental clarity / lack of depression after the first month. i'd say it took about 3 weeks after i began (and each time my dosage was upped) to stop feeling slightly agitated and to sleep completely normally. give it some time, you will be ok. my endocinologist increased the dosage very slowly, which i think helps. oh, one more thing. i would get a sore throat for the first week on an increased dosage. this also goes away.
posted by apostrophe at 7:46 PM on December 11, 2008

This is slightly off your original topic: Synthetic thyroid medications did next to nothing for my wife. She described it as knowing she was doing better but not actually feeling like she was doing better, almost like watching yourself get better through a fog. We did some research together and she ended up switching to the Armor thyroid medication which is made from desiccated pig thyroids (and more closely replicates the actual thyroid hormones you are missing.) She felt tons better after that, and has been on it for over a year now.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 8:35 PM on December 11, 2008

I'm on Synthroid. Never was on the generic as it's not suitable for my needs. It took me 1-2 weeks to start feeling better. And it really made me feel better. My collection of symptoms weren't horrific (relative to what others face) but so unenjoyable -- depressions, cramps, extreme lethargy and tiredness.

I consider Synthroid to be a miracle drug. But there is a bit of an adjustment.
posted by bunnie at 10:17 PM on December 11, 2008

I've been on Synthroid (levothyroxine) for untold years. I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism at 17 and have had every kind of thyroid supplement prescribed in the intervening years. Best results seem to be with Synthroid. My current dosage is 150mcg. Thank god for modern medicine.
posted by Lynsey at 9:45 AM on December 12, 2008

I have been on Synthroid (not generic) since I was 19 (9 years now). I was away at college when I needed to start taking Synthroid. I wasn't able to get the needed blood tests at regular intervals, so I would get everything checked when I'd be home. Inevitably, my endocrinologist would change my dosage every single time I would be tested. Basically, it took three or four years to get everything stabilized. I also have a pretty severe case (a completely inactive thyroid), so I'm sure that complicated matters. If you're getting in to see your doctor and get your blood tests done more frequently, it shouldn't take half the time it took me. But every body (and doctor) is different.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:56 PM on December 12, 2008

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