In this week’s video, I discuss the four steps you should take to make sure you have the correct thyroid medication dosage for your healthiest self. Just because you’re on thyroid medication does not mean you need to settle for a lower quality of life – there are steps you can take to maintain and even improve your energy levels and vitality.
4 Simple Steps You Can Take Towards Optimizing Your Thyroid Health
If you haven’t been feeling well and have been doing research to try and get to the bottom of what’s causing your general unease, chances are you’re wondering if your thyroid is the culprit.
You’ve probably come to realize that the little butterfly-shaped gland that resides in your neck is pretty important for maintaining normal health.
When your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, you can experience a wide range of unfortunate health consequences, such as general fatigue, unexplained weight gain, upset stomach, and insomnia.
Instead of wasting time, energy, and money on unnecessary testing and examinations, I’d like to walk you through an easy series of steps that you can take to determine your ideal thyroid protocol.
I’ve created this thyroid hierarchy to help you maintain focus so you can get better more quickly and avoid being pulled into frivolous and unnecessary recommendations and procedures.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Your initial thyroid dosing should be based on body weight and other coinciding health conditions.
If you’re recommended to be on thyroid medication, your initial dosage should be based on your body weight and other health conditions – this will be your baseline.
But remember, it takes a couple of weeks for your body to reap the benefits of thyroid medication, so you’ll need to be patient. It’s so important that you’re consistent and observant as you start your thyroid medication.
I even recommend taking general notes on your overall health before you begin your new thyroid medication, because often patients are more acutely aware of their body and well-being once they go on new thyroid medication since they are looking for improvements.
It’s only natural to become hyperaware of your body when you start a new medication, which is why recording observations before you get started can provide you with a more accurate baseline.
2. After several weeks, refine your T3 and T4 dosage.
If after a number of weeks you are only feeling a little bit better, you should get your thyroid levels tested. You might find that your T3 and T4 still aren’t quite normal and together with your doctor you’ll need to refine your dosage.
This is a process that takes time. After your dosage is changed, based on your test results, you’ll need to give your body several weeks to adjust before you take another test and tweak your dosage yet again.
I can’t stress enough that you’ll need to be patient and extremely consistent when taking your thyroid medication during this time. The more accurate and timely you are with your medication, the more telling your test results will be, which helps your doctor adjust accordingly.
Now, after a few dose adjustments, people generally fall into two categories, which will determine if you should go to step 3 or step 4 in the thyroid hierarchy.
3. If after a few dose adjustments, your labs still aren’t normal.
If your labs still aren’t normal and your health and energy aren’t ideal, it’s time to consider a) gut absorption issues and b) taking a liquid form of your medications.
First, if your labs are not consistent and you are consistently taking your thyroid medication, it could be that your gut is not absorbing your thyroid medications well.
Studies have found that those with gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, and H. pylori infections struggle to find the appropriate thyroid medication dosage due to absorption issues.
Secondly, consider trying a liquid form of your thyroid medications. Studies have shown that patients with underlying gut conditions benefit from taking a liquid form of their thyroid medication because it’s easier for the gut to absorb. Patients in these studies who used the liquid form found they had more consistent lab work and generally felt better.
4. If after a few dose adjustments, your labs are normal but you don’t feel better.
If your labs are coming back conventionally normal but you still don’t feel better, try not to over worry, because this is actually fairly common and there is still something you can do.
Often when thyroid results are normal, patients still blame their thyroid for their persistent symptoms when there’s an additional culprit in play, most commonly, poor gut health.
With the help of your doctor, be sure your gut is in good health and not contributing to the similar and generic symptoms both gut imbalance and thyroid dysfunction cause: weight gain, fatigue, and depression.
After your gut has been addressed or is ruled out because it’s healthy, consider a trial of T3 with T4 thyroid medication. Some patients simply feel better when they take a medication that combines T3 and T4 medication.
These steps often eliminate the need to get overly analytical testing done on all the fractions of your thyroid hormones. Sometimes these tests are needed, but more often than not they are unnecessary. I find that with many patients finding their ideal dosage is most successful when we examine how they feel rather than subjecting them to expensive testing.
When you work through this thyroid hierarchy, you’ll have the best chance at familiarizing yourself and your body with the best option for you.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.