As well as feeling relieved that you finally have an answer for why you’ve been feeling so unwell, patients often report that they feel impatient about waiting for their thyroid medication to ‘kick in’.
So, how long after starting thyroid hormone replacement medication, will it take for you to get back to how well you used to feel?
(For those of you reading this who have been on medication for a while and are shouting at the screen “Never!”, please read to the end of this article)
I wish I could tell you. I really do. The thing is, it’s different for each person. Why? Because the point at which we finally get that diagnosis and the medication that our body so desperately needs, is commonly so late in the progression of the condition, that we also then have other issues that now need addressing too.
You see, whilst some people take their medication and within a few weeks feel great, many of us (and I would hazard a guess that most of us) don’t feel loads better this quickly. But please don’t fret, because you can feel well again. Not all is lost.
It just takes time to address what’s going on inside your body.
Each person’s ‘thyroid journey’ is very unique. Some people find that their first try of thyroid medication alone does very well to bringing them back to good health, but for others, they find that they either require medication dosage adjustments (i.e. the initial dose of medication given isn’t enough), a switch to a different type of medication (many patients do don’t well on T4-only Levothyroxine and Synthroid, but do better on T3 and NDT medications) and/or some further help or problem solving in other areas.
For a lot of us with hypothyroidism and especially autoimmune hypothyroidism, we also have issues such as adrenal fatigue, vitamin deficiencies (or low levels still causing issues and symptoms), gut issues, sex hormone imbalances and even food sensitivities.
It is possible to live a good quality, full life with hypothyroidism however, but each person needs to piece together their own thyroid puzzle to figure out what needs addressing to get them there and restore their health.
Myself for example, I’ve had to address a change in medication from Levothyroxine to Natural Desiccated Thyroid (as Levo didn’t help me), Low Ferritin, Vitamin D, Hashimoto’s antibodies, adrenal fatigue, sex hormone imbalance (oestrogen dominance), gluten sensitivity, leaky cut, candida and more. But by addressing each of these issues, I’ve gotten closer and closer to the level of health that I remember having prior to developing autoimmune hypothyroidism. It really is like a jigsaw and each person’s will be made up of different pieces for them to address and slot back in to place. For a list of things to investigate for your own thyroid puzzle, please see this list.
So, how long will it take you to feel well again? It’s going to depend on how many aspects you need to fix/address, how well you take control of your health and advocate for yourself and how your individual body reacts and adjusts. For some it takes longer and for some quicker. Do also bear in mind that, often, the longer you’ve been unwell without diagnosis and medication, the more likely you’ll have more issues to address, as untreated hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s sends other things out of whack over time.
It’s also important to remember that whilst many people do eventually return to a good quality of life and good health, expecting to return to exactly how you were pre-hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s isn’t totally realistic. Your body is still going to handle and react to things differently now that you live with a lifelong, chronic health condition, so be kind to yourself and learn how to manage it effectively. Still keeping in mind that you need to create a healthy work-life balance, stress response and regime to promote good health. Much of this can include reducing work hours, scheduling in rest days to allow your body to recharge, taking supplements, eating and drinking well and getting good quality sleep.
If you’ve just been diagnosed, please see my super helpful list of frequently asked questions and answers here!
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information give, but further information can also be found at:
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six WEGO Award Nominations, a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying to become a Life Coach, 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 and has relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology, Motivational Speaking and Positive Thinking.