It’s a question that’s been asked many times on my Facebook group:
What happens if you stop taking your thyroid medication?
However, it’s very important to be aware that failing to take your thyroid medication opens you up to many health risks. As adequate levels of thyroid hormone are needed for every function of the body, not having enough (what would happen if you stopped your thyroid medication), would open you up to:
- Abnormal blood pressure
- An increased risk of heart disease
- An increased risk of infection
- Weight gain that’s almost impossible, if not completely impossible, to shift
- Depression and anxiety
- Hair loss (on the head and eyebrows) and an itchy and sore scalp
- Infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth
- Irregular periods or periods that are too heavy or too light
- Extreme fatigue and an inability to handle exercise
- Muscle weakness
- Joint and muscle aches and pains throughout the body, though most common in the legs
- Numbness in limbs
- A long recovery period after exercise
- Recurrent low vitamin levels such as B12, D, Folate, Iron and Ferritin that can cause a whole load of symptoms in their own right
- Feeling cold a lot of the time, including cold hands and feet
- Brain function issues such as brain fog, memory issues, degeneration and confusion
- High cholesterol
- Acid reflux
And the most serious of all, a myxedema coma, which, although uncommon, can be fatal. This is a loss of brain function as a result of longstanding, severely low level of thyroid hormones. It is considered a life-threatening complication of hypothyroidism that develops over quite a long amount of time.
At the end of the day, whatever your reason is for not wanting to take your thyroid medication anymore, don’t just stop it. Instead:
1. Talk to your doctor about trying another medicine if you feel no better on it, have side effects, or take a look at my list of ideas for other reasons you might still be feeling rubbish. Even if you feel worse since starting the medication.
2. Talk to your doctor or insurance provider if applicable, about payment plans or sorting out something more affordable, if affordability is the issue. Or look in to self sourcing your own medicine (not to be taken lightly, though), as this can be cheaper than you think. Just make sure to use legitimate sources.
3. If you’re wanting to explore being able to live without thyroid medication and stabilising your condition through diet and lifestyle alone (which reportedly can be done but I must admit doesn’t seem overly common), consult a functional doctor and be extremely cautious. Many actually end up needing thyroid hormone replacement for life.
4. Or learn to look at your thyroid medication as an essential part of living for you – just like food and water, instead of looking at it negatively. Read this.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information give.
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018, and is a qualified Diet and Nutritional Advisor, also currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking, Reflexology and more. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.