I changed to Armour in February of this year. I've been on Synthroid and Levoxyl for years. I did months of research and wanted to to see if I could feel better and hopefully help my side effects.
My Dr. started me on 90mg to begin with because I had been on 212 mcg of Synthroid. After 3 weeks of Armour my labs come back with my Free T4 low so he increased it to to 105mg daily. Now 6 weeks later my TSH is 12.80 and so he wants to increase my dosage to 120mg.
How long will it take to try and regulate my levels and help me with side effects? Any ideas or suggestions.
Is your doctor doing any tests, other than TSH? You need also to be getting Free T3 and Free T4 with every TSH test. Those are the actual thyroid hormones and you need to know what those levels are, too, not just TSH which is a pituitary hormone and not necessarily indicative of actual hormone status.
If you have results for FT3 and FT4, please post them. Make sure to include the reference ranges, since those vary lab to lab and must come from your own report.
When you say "side effects", so you mean hypo symptoms? What symptoms do you have?
My Dr. has run a T4 Free normal range 0.71-1.85
in 2-12 it was .91 (he then increased my Armour 15 mg more to a total of 105 mg. On 4-2-12 it was 0.71 so he increased it 15 mg more.
My last T3 was in 2008 and it 103 (normal range 58-159)
My hypo symptoms: severe hair loss, all body hair, almost all eyebrows gone, dry dry itching skin, fatigue, constipation, high cholesterol, etc. One of the most frustrating was the weight gain. I've been Lifetime WW for almost 40 years, so I stick pretty close to a healthy diet and exercise. About 2.5 yrs ago I started gaining weight and nothing I did would stop it. About this time they did increase my Synthroid to 212 mcg. I've just felt crummy and decided that I needed to try and change things around to feel better. I know I need to be patient and give Armour a try.
My Dr. said as soon as they get my TSH in the "normal range" he'll do a T3.
Your doctor is trying to manage your thyroid levels based only on TSH and he will keep you ill. You need the FT3 and FT4 *every* time you get TSH. He's giving you a medication with fast acting T3 in it, without even monitoring your levels. In my opinion, that's irresponsible. Whatever your T3 (was that total or free?) was in 2008, is irrelevant now.
With all the symptoms you have, I can well imagine that you feel crummy. I know how frustrating the weight gain is; we generally find that once hormone levels are adequate and stable, most people are able to lose weight again, though some of us (yes, me, too) have to work pretty hard at it.
TSH is a pituitary hormone that is supposed to be a reflection of what the pituitary gland senses the thyroid levels are in your body. It is NOT a test of thyroid hormone levels themselves.
To test the hormone levels themselves you need to be tested for the free T3 and Free T4 hormones. (not "total") as the free unbound by a protein hormone molecules are the only hormones your body uses.
Why not actually measure the hormones used by the body instead of a reactionary hormone? It makes more sense to me to cut to the chase and actually measure what you are after and not some reactionary item which is what TSH is.
Also TSH has been proven to not be accurate enough or even correlates well with symptoms. Certainly it is as Barb stated nearly impossible to adjust medicine dosage accurately to treat you properly. Unfortunately TSH only is used by many if not most Dr's and as Barb stated will almost certainly keep you feeling ill.
I too agree with Barb that any Dr who is prescribing a medication with T3 in and is not testing for Free T3 hormone is in my opinion irresponsible and may even border on negligent/malpractice.
Ultimately at the cellular level, the body ONLY uses the free T3 hormone. So if there would be only one thing to test for wouldn't it make sense to test for the single hormone you body actually uses? Especially since you are taking a medication with T3 in it?
As far as regulating the medication dosage that is the "art" and for some people they are lucky and hit on a combination that works relatively quickly. Other people it takes a very long time. Some people it has taken years but part of that is usually involves going through several Dr's who put the patient on a roller coaster ride of medications and dosages. many times as a result of trying to tweak the dosage based upon TSH only.
Also be aware that it is fairly common for a person on a medication with T3 in it that TSH will be suppressed. That means a very low TSH result and even though you are still hypo, the Dr will panic and almost assuredly reduce your medication. Which will WORSEN your Hypo situation but the fact they are clueless that the T3 medication caused the suppression and thus a false result. This is usually the start of the roller coaster ride of hell as they go back and forth putting you on and then off the medication.
So start with INSISTING and not taking no for an answer of getting BOTH the Free T3 and Free T4 tested. You may also want to get both Hashimoto's antibodies tested for. The tests are usually noted as TPOab and TGab. Hashi's is the most common cause of hypo in the modern world and is an auto immune condition where your own immune system is attacking and over time slowy destroying the thyroid gland to produce hormone. What this means is that as the disease progresses the patient will need more and more medication to make up for the lessening hormone production of the thryoid gland.
This is another reason to test for Free T3 (FT3) and Free T4 (FT4). Over time you may hopefully will find a level of these two hormones that make YOU feel well. Once you know this you will have a target to shoot for and can ajust medication dosage to keep you feeling well.
many people have found that simply being within the "normal" or reference range is NOT adequate. Many people here have found that they need to be well up into the ranges to feel well. In fact the "better" target seems to be when your FT4 is in the MIDDLE of the range or slightly above AND (that means in addition to) your FT3 to be in the UPPER 1/3 of the range.
Many Dr's unfortunately who do test for the FT4 and FT3 will fall into the trap thinking that simply being within range is good enough. For some people that may be true. But for MANY that is false. And the Dr's who believe in this reference range endocrinology will keep their patients under treated or less than optimum.
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