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Thyroid medication side effects
weight changes? headaches?
Vintage Joan
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Vintage Joan
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Date: 4/25/13 1:34 PM

Hi -- quick question for those of you who take synthroid (levothyroxine sodium) for hypothyroidism. Have you had any side effects? I keep reading that people gain weight taking this medication, even though officially weight loss is more what's to be expected.

What about headaches -- for example, sinus headaches that suddenly occur during the night?

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BriarRose
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Date: 4/25/13 1:38 PM

I didn't gain weight and there's been no change in the pattern of my headaches.

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SheBear0320
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In reply to Vintage Joan <<


Date: 4/25/13 1:46 PM

I have been on this med since 1983 when I had my thyroid removed -- wow that's 30 years ago.

I have experienced no side effects when the dosage is correct to keep my levels in the normal range. Unexplained weight loss and gain is usually explained by a need for a dosage adjustment.

Can't address the sinus headache thing as I have really bad sinuses and asthma so deal with sinus issues all the time.

I don't think my headaches are related to changes in my thyroid levels -- they're infrequent and usually allergy/weather related.

I've managed to lose 80 lbs over the past 4 to 5 years (and keep it off) all while being on the meds.

I'm sure things will differ from person to person -- are you experiencing side effects?

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
49.75 yards sewn (as of 07/17/14)
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stirwatersblue
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Date: 4/25/13 2:16 PM

I did gain a little weight after getting my hypothyroidism under control--but I was one of those weird cases who actually LOST weight (50 lbs!!) when I was sick. Usually it goes the other way. So I don't think I can really call that a "side effect" of the levothyroxine. More of an effect, I guess. ;)

The thyroid is a busy little organ that can behave mysteriously, however, so like my docs tell me, with thyroid issues anything is possible! If it's bothersome, I would definitely bring it to your doctor's attention.

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~Gem in the prairie

DolphinDancer30

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Date: 4/25/13 2:23 PM

Perhaps your body doesn't agree with synthroid. There are other types of thyroid medicines and you may do better on another type. My doctor says it takes 3 weeks for any change in thyroid medicine to take effect, so finding the right one and the right dosage may take some time and a lot of patience. If the pharmacy switches generic brands often, this can cause issues in some patients.

kkkkaty
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In reply to Vintage Joan <<
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Date: 4/25/13 3:06 PM

I've been on synthroid or a generic for about 20 years, no side effects that I can think of. Except that I felt a million times better once I got on it.

My new doc did tell me something no other doc had said to me, just a few months ago; he said if you are going to take a generic, take the same one, from the same manufacturer; the FDA allows up to a 10% variation in the dosage strength from one manufacturer to another, and for people with low thyroid problems, that's a problem. he's a "Dr House" type, kind of irascible, but he seems to be a good doc, which is more important to me right now than Mr Personality...

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Vintage Joan
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Date: 4/25/13 3:27 PM

OK, well here's the situation: my thyroid level is just slightly elevated, which my doctor explained is from the pituitary gland's overresponse to correcting an underactive thyroid. So, kind of counterintuitive, but it means I have hypothyroidism. It's not bad or anything, but the idea is to bring the level back to normal and (more importantly) keep it from getting progressively worse. He started me out on a small dose (25 mcg?) of synthroid / levothyroxine sodium. The first couple of days I got ravenously hungry, but that's it. I took this as a great sign -- I almost never get hungry, so it told me my metabolism had probably finally kicked in. Good.

Then for four nights in a row, I woke up in the night with a sinus headache. I rarely get sinus headaches, and virtually never during the night, so I figured there was probably a connection.

Yesterday I skipped the synthroid just to see what would happen with the headache. No headache -- I slept like a baby.

I'm going to see the doctor tonight.

But when I was looking this up to see if there was a connection between sinus headaches and synthroid, I found several forums where people were expressing frustration about how much weight they had gained on this medication. It surprised me -- I thought the opposite was more likely. So now I'm confused.

Thanks for all your quick feedback.


-- Edited on 4/25/13 3:28 PM --

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my shield and my very great reward ~ Gen. 15:1

kkkkaty
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In reply to Vintage Joan <<


Date: 4/25/13 3:59 PM

getting your thyroid level closer to normal would raise your metabolic rate a little, so all other things being equal (same amt of food, same amt of exercise), you would stay the same or maybe lose a bit.

People can assume cause and effect from two seemingly-related things (taking synthroid, gained weight=synthroid causes weight gain), but they may not be completely honest with themselves about other changes they've made.

This is quite a good book about thyroid issues, in my opinion: http://www.amazon.com/Thyroid-Solution-Revolutionary-Mind-Body-Regaining/dp/0345496620

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Viking Lily 545
Viking Ruby
Bernina Activa 210
Brother 1034d

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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In reply to Vintage Joan <<


Date: 4/25/13 4:35 PM

Quote: Vintage Joan
OK, well here's the situation: my thyroid level is just slightly elevated, which my doctor explained is from the pituitary gland's overresponse to correcting an underactive thyroid. So, kind of counterintuitive, but it means I have hypothyroidism.

No, that's actually normal (for hypothyroidism). Your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) will go UP, because your thyroid isn't running right, so your body is trying to give it a little "gas," so to speak. It does sound a little weird, that they would test for a number that's too high, to diagnose a problem that's too low, but the clue is in the name of what they're testing--it's the hormone that stimulates your thyroid--not the actual hormones the thyroid is producing. Make sense?

It is a *really* complicated system of multiple glands and hormones working together (which is how it's so easy for things to go awry), but Wikipedia has a good overview.
***

My guess for your headaches would be that you may have an allergy to one of the inactive ingredients in the Synthroid. It might be worth seeing if they can either switch you to the name brand, or change your generic to another maker. Definitely mention it to your doctor.

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~Gem in the prairie

SheBear0320
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Date: 4/25/13 5:37 PM

I don't take generics of any kind as I've had problems with some of the additives that are added. My doctor prescribes only name brand and indicates that no substitutes are allowed. DH's health plan still covers them due to medical issues with the generics.

Since losing my weight I've been able to come off of most of my prescription meds (not including the inhalers for asthma). Of course I will have to take the thyroid meds for the rest of my life to replace the thyroid function. The only other med I'm on is a metabolism booster but that has been cut back to only 2 a day from 4. The doctor wanted to cut me back to 1 a day at my last appointment but my blood work showed my thyroid levels were low so we have to get that under control first. Of course that means increase meds a little, wait 6 to 8 weeks, retest and then adjust meds again if needed.

Since the thyroid is part of the endocrine system, menopause or other female hormone issues can affect thyroid levels. The same is true for insulin production issues.

------
Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
49.75 yards sewn (as of 07/17/14)
79.875 yards purchased (as of 07/17/14)

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