Overtreating an underactive thyroid

Aug 6, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (23)

The thyroid gland creates and produces hormones that play a role in many systems throughout the body. When your thyroid makes too much or too little of these important hormones, it’s called a thyroid disease.

And thyroid disease is common.

"We know that about 10% of people have some degree of thyroid dysfunction," says Dr. Juan Brito Campana, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist.

There are several different types of thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid; hypothyroidism or under active thyroid; and Hashimoto’s disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disease. Treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone that restores adequate hormone levels.

Levothyroxine is one of the most common prescription drugs in the U.S., but a new study by Mayo Clinic researchers suggests it is significantly overused in people with mild hypothyroidism or no apparent thyroid dysfunction. These results were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Brito Campana discusses diagnosis and treatment for thyroid disease, and what the research on the overuse of levothyroxine means for patients.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript

For more information, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

Connect with others talking about thyroid conditions, and supporting one another in the Diabetes/Endocrine System support group.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Podcasts blog.

The side effects I have experienced with thyroid medication are blurred vision, double vision, rash, dizziness, off balance, can't focus, cramps in legs and feet, have to get out of bed several times at night, no appetite, weak, diarrhea, increased blood sugar, blood pressure. On 7 different prescriptions sense October. The higher the dosage the worse the side effects. I have been off thyroid for about a month and getting my life back as each side effects is going away. Still some blurted vision but no doubt vision.
All the MD for thyroid wants to do is change dosage.
I am trying natural vitamins.
Will keep you posted.

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Thank you Dr. Compano. The information about the thyroid was very informative.

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Can anyone comment on the use of natural thyroid? I never felt “right” taking levothyroxine so began taking natural even though my doctor was very hesitant to prescribe it.

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@farmer0233

The side effects I have experienced with thyroid medication are blurred vision, double vision, rash, dizziness, off balance, can't focus, cramps in legs and feet, have to get out of bed several times at night, no appetite, weak, diarrhea, increased blood sugar, blood pressure. On 7 different prescriptions sense October. The higher the dosage the worse the side effects. I have been off thyroid for about a month and getting my life back as each side effects is going away. Still some blurted vision but no doubt vision.
All the MD for thyroid wants to do is change dosage.
I am trying natural vitamins.
Will keep you posted.

Jump to this post

I have often found full fledged seasoned Pharmacists a helpful avenue for trouble shooting medication setbacks. Two eyes are better than one as the saying goes. They will expertly double check for any medication incompatibilities, as I’m sure you’ll recall. If you haven’t run your thyroid medication side effects by your pharmacist recently, they might have a piece or two to your puzzle.

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@betty1957

Thank you Dr. Compano. The information about the thyroid was very informative.

Jump to this post

Welcome Betty, do you have a thyroid condition? How is it being managed?

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@gottab

Can anyone comment on the use of natural thyroid? I never felt “right” taking levothyroxine so began taking natural even though my doctor was very hesitant to prescribe it.

Jump to this post

Gottab, good to hear that you are working together with your doctor to find the right treatment that works for you and that you are comfortable with. How long have you been managing your condition with natural thyroid supplements? Do you have hyper or hypothyroidism?

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@colleenyoung

Welcome Betty, do you have a thyroid condition? How is it being managed?

Jump to this post

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about three years ago. I take 88MCG tablet of Levothyroxine a day. The doctor takes bloodwork occasionally to monitor it. I feel fine.

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@colleenyoung

Gottab, good to hear that you are working together with your doctor to find the right treatment that works for you and that you are comfortable with. How long have you been managing your condition with natural thyroid supplements? Do you have hyper or hypothyroidism?

Jump to this post

I have hypothyroidism. Have been using natural for about five years. Have learned that most drs. prefer their patients to use synthroid and have always wondered why. Can you enlighten why? Thanks.

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@gottab and @betty1957, I invite you to follow the Endocrine System group here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/diabetes-and-endocrine-problems/

In this group, you'll find other talking about living with and managing hypothyroidism. Here are a few examples:

– Hypothyroidism Diagnosis https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/hypothyroidism-diagnosis/
– Turmeric taken with Synthroid https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/turmeric-taken-with-synthroid/
– Hypo and Hyper thyroid hell!! https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/hypo-and-hyper-thyroid-hell/

Your questions and knowledge will be a welcome addition to the group.

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Thank you for this information. Certainly will check it out.

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Is there correlation between thyroid and neuropathy.

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I have neuropathy in both feet. Before developing this problem I had shingles. Here again does shingles cause neuropathy.

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