Since I was a child, I have know known that my mother’s thyroid was “zapped” when she had a particularly high fever shortly after my sister was born. As a result, her formerly naturally high metabolism has been artificially stoked with Synthroid (the brand name for levothyroxine, or synthetic thyroid hormone). Though she has dutifully taken it every morning for over 20 years, she says that she has never noticed a difference – no increase in energy when she started taking it (though with two children under 3 years old, I suspect that even a caffeine drip would not have made up the energy shortfall).
When I was 20, my annual physical showed that my thyroid was under active as well – and I was thrilled. Though I had always known that my mother (a perennial size six) had not experienced any weight loss side effects when she began taking Synthroid, I was overweight, on the verge of obese, and saw hypothyroidism as the answer to why I could never seem to sustain any worthwhile weight loss – no matter how many times I went on Weight Watchers. I also had noticed recently that my hair seemed to be falling out, though that was based more on the amount that I vacuumed up from my dorm room floor than any noticeable thinning when I styled my hair each morning.
When I first was prescribed Synthroid, my thyroid was still partially functioning, and while my mother (and her non-functioning thyroid) took 100 milligrams every morning, I took only 25 milligrams. To say that I was disappointed by the lack of results is an understatement. Even after the 4 to 6 weeks that the doctor had said the Synthroid needed to kick my thyroid (and metabolism) into gear, I didn’t see any differences – not in my hair, my skin, and especially not in my weight.
Over the past five years since my diagnosis, my thyroid has continually declined in functionality. Today I take 100 milligrams of Synthroid every morning (at least 45 minutes before eating, per the doctor’s directions). Living alone, I know that any stray hairs found in my hairbrush, the shower drain or the bathroom floor are mine – but the increases in Synthroid have not had a marked effect on that. I did eventually slim down – but that was because I gave up on dieting (finally), and began to have a much healthier relationship with food.
The biggest impact to date that hypothyroidism has had on me is the cost of the insurance co-pay for the Synthroid prescription (though at $4 a month, paid through my FSA, it hardly constitutes a hardship). If it cost more, I suspect I would skip taking the medication altogether, given how little it has improved (or affected) my health.
I am curious as to whether anyone else has experienced positive (or, really, any) effects from treating their hypothyroidism – or if the only changes are on some blood test.