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Receiving a diagnosis for hypothyroidism/an underactive thyroid, Hashimoto’s, subclinical or borderline hypothyroidism or thyroid disease in the form of low thyroid, can create a whole mix of emotions.
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 and 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 how long it will take. 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 our body so desperately needs, it is commonly so late in the progression of the condition, that we also then have other issues that now need addressing too.
The Thyroid Jigsaw Puzzle
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 all that is 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.
How Long it Took for Me to Get Better
I’ve had to address a change in medication from Levothyroxine to Natural Desiccated Thyroid (as Levothyroxine didn’t help me), Low Ferritin, Vitamin D, Hashimoto’s antibodies, adrenal dysfunction, sex hormone imbalance (oestrogen dominance), gluten sensitivity, leaky gut, candida and more over the last few years.
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.
I found that seeing a functional medicine practitioner who applied a holistic approach to healing my body, worked wonders.
So, How Long Will It Take You to Feel Well Again?
For some it takes longer and for some it is 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 and Hashimoto’s can send 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 either.
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.
Keep in mind that you need to create a healthy work-life balance, stress response and regimen to promote good health. Much of this can include reducing work hours, scheduling in rest days to allow your body to recharge, taking supplements that support you, 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!
The book Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate: When You’re Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, which builds on this article in detail and covers how to get your health back with a thyroid diagnosis. Reclaim your thyroid healthy life as Rachel has done.
There is also an online thyroid course which you can complete from your own home and computer. Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue helps you tackle low energy with a personalised approach and helps you get your life back with thyroid disease. Learn from other thyroid patients!
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and award-winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, blogger, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. She has two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received eight 2020 WEGO Health Award Nominations.