It was one year ago this month that I was diagnosed as having "significant hypothyroidism" and was first introduced to this prescription, Levothyroxine.
Levothyroxine is a generic brand of Synthroid, the more expensive and equivalent artificial thyroid stimulant and is commonly prescribed to patients, such as myself, in an attempt to combat this debilitating condition.
Let me tell you more...
Standing at 5'10" tall and weighing over 190lbs, I was embarrassed and upset over my constant weight gain. I was constantly tired and frequently would experience utter exhaustion (for no reason), shaking and diziness. My mood would change often and I would get easily irritated. I am not a "big eater" as they say and was never a large person, so I naturally thought that, at 37 years old, I was "getting older" and tired from work and raising an 8 year old son. Typical woman, right?
Having irregular menstrual cycles over the period (pardon the pun) of several months caused my husband and I great anxiety and disappointment, as we have wanted to conceive another child for a few years, yet, each missed month was met with another negative pregnancy test. Once my cycles became non existant for 4 months, and my physical "crashes" seemed to intensify and gain in frequency, there was nothing else to do but consult my doctor.
The symptons raised red flags immediately and a simple blood test showed that I had serious thyroid issues and that my body was not producing the required chemicals to keep it in operation! My doctor, upon revealing the results of this test, stated: "I can't believe you can even get out of bed in the morning...." Wow!
I was told that I would have to start taking a daily pill called "Levothyroxine" and that I should start noticing physical changes fairly quickly.
Within about 3 weeks into taking these miracle pills, I was not so easily tired, I had energy and felt more "human". My cycles returned to a normal monthly pattern and within 6 months I had lost 20lbs.
Here comes the hard part. It is extremely important that you visit your doctor at regular intervals to get your blood checked as this pill needs to be administered at the correct dosage and any small deviation can create quite negative effects. Too little and your body starts to shut down again, too much and you could get quite ill from what I understand. They thyroid is such a complicated part of ones body and it needs to maintain a constant level of hormone. I learned this the hard way!
Having been on this medication as I said, for one year, I was feeling great. My weight had dropped to 160lbs and I was generally in good health - occasionally I would have a bad day where I would feel weak and shaky, but overall I felt great. I stopped having my blood tested as I thought that the dosage of Levothyroxine I was taking was doing its job. My cycles were regular and normal again so I was fine.
In May of this year I discovered I was pregnant. I had not had a period since March but was hesitant that perhaps my meds neeeded boosted, so I didn't get too excited and waited until May when I KNEW there was something else involved to buy the test. On May 7th the result came in - we were pregnant again after all these years! These pills were the answer to our prayers. On May 15th I miscarried. I shall say no more.
Upon visiting my doctor for confirmation, I found out that my thyroid levels were still extremely out of the optimal range and that, although these pills were working, the dosage needed to be boosted and that was the cause of my miscarriage. Now, don't get me wrong, the pills did not cause this awful event, but my failure to constantly have my dosage checked did.
They had helped my body progress to the point where I can conceive again, but not to the point where I can safely carry the child to term.
Yes, this is an incredible medication, but one that you must stay on top of. You cannot take this and remain unmonitored. I have been assured that it should take no longer than another 6-12 months before I am at the dosage my body will need to sustain a healthy life and attempt another pregnancy, but I have been advised, and I warn anyone who is taking this and trying to conceive, to not do so without first having all your blood levels checked and the dosage adjusted to a safe and neccessary level.
The Final Opinion
Quite frankly, I couldn't live without it - I just wish I knew how difficult it was to maintain!
I strongly suggest to anyone who may be suffering from unexplained weight-gain, exhaustion, mood swings, headaches and diziness to visit their doctor and ask for a thyroid level test. If you suffer from Hypothyroidism then Levothyroxine will get you back on track - it's incredible!
Update On Jun 21, 2009: Updated: June 21st 2009:
Some important advice that I was remiss in adding is:
You MUST take this prescription on an empty stomach.
You MUST wait about 30 mins to 1 hour after taking this before eating (I usually wait about 40 minutes then grab my coffee!)
You MUST wait about 6 hours after taking this before taking any other vitamin, supplement etc.,
As bad as this sounds, it's actually not as bad as it sounds. I take my Levothyroxine as soon as I wake in the morning and by the time I have showered, brushed my teeth etc., I am about the time where I can safely have my coffee. With that, I take my vitamin before I go to bed, this assures that there is an ample period of time elapsed between taking one pill and the supplement!
DO NOT miss a dose and DO NOT double up if you do!!
Update On Jun 23, 2009: Did you know that (according to my doctor) Hypothyroidism in women is one of the most common conditions yet one of the least diagnosed? So many of us put the symptoms off to busy lifestyle, low iron, etc., if YOU suffer from and combination of these symptoms - PLEASE ask your doctior for a TSH test - it's cheap and reliable and could save your life:
Fatigue, Weight gain (or weight loss with hyperthyroidism), susceptability to cold, dry skin, depression or mood swings, irregular cycles, diziness, headaches or occasional shaking/shivering.
Update On Jul 03, 2009: PLEASE send this message along to every woman you know who may have these symptoms or who may be trying to conceive and has this condition!!! PLEASE.