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Your doctor will do regular blood tests to check the levels of thyroid hormones in your body before and after starting levothyroxine.
These will allow your doctor to adjust the dose to suit you.
At the start of treatment you can expect to have blood tests often. Once your hormone levels are stable, you’ll usually have a blood test after 4 to 6 months, and after that once a year.
You may need blood tests more often if you:
- are pregnant
- start or stop a medicine that can interfere with levothyroxine
- have any symptoms that could mean your dose is not quite right
Is it safe to take levothyroxine to lose weight?
Levothyroxine is a synthetic thyroid hormone prescribed to treat low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism. Low thyroid function slows down the metabolism and this can lead to weight gain. Taking levothyroxine to treat hypothyroidism can help to normalise metabolism which may lead to weight loss.
Levothyroxine contains a boxed warning saying that it should not be used for the treatment of obesity or weight loss.
Taking levothyroxine for weight loss when not indicated can cause overdose symptoms. These symptoms include nervousness, insomnia, emotional swings, sweating, hand tremor, hair loss, sensitivity to warm temperatures (feeling hot all the time), muscle weakness, shortness of breath, heart failure and angina, confusion and disorientation. Periods may stop. Stroke, shock, coma and death have been reported as symptoms of overdosage.
The best way to lose weight is to cut back calories and increase activity, especially aerobic activity, to burn stored fat.
For more information on weight loss visit:
Thyroid hormones mediate metabolism. If you’re hypothyroid — insufficient hormone — metabolism slows down, you burn fewer calories so it’s easy to gain weight as your consumed calories go ‘unburned’ and are stored as fats. Conversely, if you’re hyperthyroid, you’re cranking out too much hormone, your metabolic ‘furnace’ goes into overdrive and you burn calories easily and weight loss can occur. You don’t indicate your height and actual weight, nor do you mention your hormone and TSH levels so it’s hard to assess whether your 88 mcg dose is still leaving you hypo and thereby, susceptible to weight gain. I’m male, 5’10», weigh 152 lbs. and take 200 mcg daily, more than DOUBLE your dose. I’m asymptomatic and have maintained my weight without even thinking about it. If as I suspect, you remain hypo due to a lower than ideal dose of levothyroxine, your free T3 and free T4 levels may still be low. Sadly these days, many physicians, even endos, are fixated on TSH. Theoretically, it is the most sensitive measure of thyroid function, if the complex hormonal feedback system with its stimulatory or inhibitory effects is working normally. That’s not always the case. Patient symptoms are too often sacrificed at the altar of ideal TSH scores. T3 is the metabolic workhorse, produced from T4 and if T4 is high normal and T3 is low normal, there may be an enzyme deficiency or you may have insufficient zinc or selenium levels. Do you know what your T3 and T4 levels are and where they fall in the established ranges? Do you have other symptoms of hypothyroidism? If it’s not already, Google should be your best friend. Just Google ‘hypothyroidism’ and choose a hit that specifically mentions symptoms. Can’t hurt to Google hyperthyroidism as well so you can compare and will know what to expect if your levothyroxine dose gets too high, rendering you artificially hyper.
Decreased thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, is commonly associated with weight gain. But contrary to popular belief, effective treatment with levothyroxine (LT4) to restore normal thyroid hormone levels is not associated with clinically significant weight loss in most people. The study that led to this surprising finding will be presented by researchers from Boston University Medical Center at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association, October 16-20, 2013, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In «Weight Change after Treatment of Hypothyroidism,» SY Lee, LE Braverman, and EN Pearce describe the retrospective review of patients with newly diagnosed primary hypothyroidism over an 8-year period, not caused by thyroid cancer or other forms of disease or associated with pregnancy or use of prescription weight loss medication.
About half (52%) of the patients lost weight up to 24 months after initiation of treatment with LT4. Overall, weight loss was modest, with a mean weight loss of 8.4 9.7 lbs.
«Because obesity and hypothyroidism are very common, there are many patients who have both conditions,» says Ronald J. Koenig, M.D., Ph.D, Program Committee Co-Chair, and Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor. «These patients (and sometimes their physicians) often assume the hypothyroidism is causing the obesity even though this may not be the case. This study is important because it shows, unfortunately, that only about half of hypothyroid patients lose weight after the successful treatment of their hypothyroidism. It will be interesting and important to have follow up data to know whether the patients that lose weight are the ones most in need of weight loss, and to know how significantly their weight loss contributed toward achieving a normal body weight.»
Has anyone experienced major weight gain after starting Levothyroxine?
I was diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism after my TSH level was found to be 6.89 about a month ago (T3 and T4 were normal). I started on 25MCG of Levothyroxine, but on the third week I realized I was starting to feel awful. I developed feelings of anxiety, depression, irritability and I could not concentrate. I got my blood tested again and my TSH levels dropped to .5! The doctor suggested that the drop could have been why my body reacted in such a way. She lowered my dosage to 12.5 MCG and I will begin taking that tomorrow.
I am 21 and slightly overweight. I eat very healthy (veggies, fruits, potatoes, brown rice, beans, some fish and drink a lot of water) and try to exercise regularly — I go to the gym at least three times per week and I do plenty of walking around my college campus.
1.) Have any of you noticed weight loss after you found the correct dosage (even if it was lowered)?
2.) Do you have any recommendations for weight loss?
I am on .075MG of Levothyroxine, and have been for one year, and I am a healthy person who runs, eats healthy (MOST of the time) and is very active with a fitbit and everything. I have gained about 10 pounds in one year, and it is steadily climbing. Before that, I was the same weight, give or take a couple pounds, for almost a decade. I am 31, so at first I thought it was just hitting that 30’s wall of being harder to lose weight. I look like I am in my second trimester of being pregnant!!! It is ridiculous. None of my clothes fit. After reading this, I am thinking about stopping my medication for awhile to see what happens. When I started, my levels were over 5, but my recent lab results stated I am a 2.23 now. My question is… What happens when I stop the meds? Is it safe to do? What other things could I be supplementing with in order to keep my levels where they need to be? Thanks for all your help!
Hey, furball! Metabolically speaking, levothyroxine should make you lose or maintain weight if anything at all. Did your endocrinologist have any other ideas?
Think it over very carefully before you consider stopping your meds because the effects could be disastrous, even fatal. You simply cannot live without thyroid hormones and if alternative medicine worked so well the pharmaceutical industry would be out of business.
* It is not recommended that you stop taking levothyroxine unless your doctor advises you to do so.
Levothyroxine withdrawal may cause hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism causes WEIGHT GAIN, fatigue, depression and sensitivity to cold because your body does not have enough thyroid hormone so your body processes slow down. Patients with thyroid cancer may suffer acute hypothyroidism because of levothyroxine withdrawal.
Depression and Anxiety
Reducing your dosage or stopping altogether can cause depression and increased anxiety, according to a study published in December 2005 in the “European Journal of Endocrinology.” The study found that there is a consistent pattern of increased anxiety of around 44 percent and depression of around 17 percent in patients undergoing levothyroxine withdrawal.
Thyroid hormones help in the modulation of glucose metabolism, your body’s insulin response to blood sugar. Levothyroxine withdrawal can cause a state of insulin resistance, according to a study published in the June 2009 issue of “Thyroid.” Four patients were tested after six weeks of levothyroxine withdrawal and were found to have a significant degree of insulin resistance, which resulted in reduced glucose disposal — how fast your body stabilizes blood sugar. Blood glucose affects your body’s energy level and ABILITY TO BURN FAT.
Hypothyroidism signs and symptom may include:
Increased sensitivity to cold
Elevated blood cholesterol level
Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
Slowed heart rate
When hypothyroidism isn’t treated, signs and symptoms can gradually become more severe. Constant stimulation of your thyroid gland to release more hormones may lead to an enlarged thyroid (goiter). In addition, you may become more forgetful, your thought processes may slow, or you may feel depressed.
Advanced hypothyroidism, known as myxedema, is rare, but when it occurs it can be life-threatening. Signs and symptoms include low blood pressure, decreased breathing, decreased body temperature, unresponsiveness and even coma. In extreme cases, myxedema can be fatal.
How much will I take?
You may need to take several different tablets to make up your dose.
Levothyroxine comes in 25 microgram, 50 microgram and 100 microgram tablets. The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol μ followed by the letter g (μg). A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram (mg).
Your doctor will tell you how many tablets to take each day.
The dose of levothyroxine varies from person to person.
Although starting doses are usually the same, the dose of levothyroxine you end up taking, or how quickly the dose is increased, depends on your symptoms, hormone levels, age and whether you have any other health problems.
Adults usually start with a dose between 50 micrograms and 100 micrograms taken once a day. This may be increased gradually over a few weeks to between 100 micrograms and 200 micrograms taken once a day.
Some people, such as over-50s or people with heart disease, may start on a lower dose. If you’re taking levothyroxine as a liquid, 5mls has 25 micrograms, 50 micrograms or 100 micrograms in it.
Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water.
Levothyroxine is available as a liquid for children and people who find it difficult to swallow tablets.
If you or your child are taking levothyroxine as a liquid, it will usually be made up for you by the pharmacist. It will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you
don’t have a syringe or measuring spoon, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it won’t give the right amount.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In which case just skip the forgotten dose. Do not take 2 doses together to make up for a missed
If you forget often doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
Taking an extra dose of levothyroxine by accident is unlikely to harm you.
Speak to your doctor if:
- you accidentally take more than 1 extra dose
- you get side effects such as a racing heart beat or chest pain — these may not happen straight away — it can be several days before they come on