I’m on Levothyroxine for an underactive thyroid but I still don’t feel well

on Thu 7 May



It’s estimated that one million people within the UK are on levothyroxine with the most common cause being hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) .


This is the preferred drug because its administration most closely mimics glandular secretion and because its conversion to the thyroid hormone T4 is appropriately regulated in the body tissues.



Patient’ symptoms can vary significantly according to the duration and biochemical severity of hypothyroidism but what they do not expect is that they may continue to feel unwell despite treatment.


The reason for this is that it may take between six and 12 months for symptoms to improve. This is especially the case in patients with a history of Graves’ disease who may have been hyperthyroid for many months and who may take considerable time to adjust again back to being “normal”


Indeed data suggests that between 5 and 10% of patients with normal serum still experience associated symptoms of  lack of well-being and depression


In the Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence study involving nearly 23,000 patients it was found that 12% of participants mentioned hypothyroid symptoms despite being on medication. It was suggested that there may be several reasons for this:


  1. The sheer awareness of having a chronic disease
  2. Adjustments to actually having a normally functioning thyroid gland
  3. Potentially mistaking unrelated symptoms to the hypothyroid state – this can happen when common non-specific symptoms like depression or tiredness occur


You should be regularly monitored whilst on Levothyroxine so if the test says you are improving but you don’t believe that to be the case perhaps you still have a few months to go before you feel the full effect…

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