Is Your Underactive Thyroid Being Overtreated? If your thyroid gland is underactive — a condition called hypothyroidism — your body produces too little thyroid hormone.
Endocrinologists make sure that you have enough of this important hormone by prescribing thyroid hormone T4 (Synthroid®, Levoxyl®, Levothroid® or another brand). Or they may prescribe a medication containing both T4 and T3 (Armour® Thyroid, Nature-Throid™, etc).
To feel your best, you need the right amount of thyroid hormone in your system, says Mario Skugor, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.
Your dose of thyroid hormone is based on weight. Be sure to report a weight gain or loss of 10 percent or more to your doctor right away to avoid overtreatment or undertreatment, he advises.
However, even when you’re on the right dose of thyroid hormone for your weight, you may be getting more than your body needs.
Overtreatment places you at risk for developing heart arrhythmias and osteoporosis (a disorder of low bone mass that leads to easy fracturing), says Dr. Skugor. So it’s wise to be familiar with the signs of overtreatment for hypothyroidism:
Symptoms of mild overtreatment
- Feeling hot or shaky
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Excessive sweating
Symptoms of severe overtreatment
- Mood swings
- Hand tremors
- Muscle weakness — mainly thighs and shoulders
- Weight loss
- Inability to sleep and/or focus
- Abnormally increased heart rate, even at rest
Two groups of people with hypothyroidism are at high risk of complications from overtreatment. They include:
- People with heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias)
- Elderly people with weak bones
Whether you’re young, old or in between, don’t adjust the dose yourself if you think you’re being overtreated. Call your doctor and explain your symptoms. He or she will check your blood levels of thyroid hormone.
The correct dose adjustment will soon have you feeling a whole lot better.