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Dr Russ Blog - Hypothyroidism - Lifelong Medication?
Hypothyroidism - Lifelong Medication?
Created on 11/2/2012

N sent in a question about hypothyroidism - she had heard that taking levoxyl, a thyroid hormone replacement medication, could "shut down" the thyroid gland, and she wonders how she might wean off the medication.

Good question, N. But I'm not sure you will be happy with my answer.

First, hypothyroidism is a very common condition where the thyroid gland simply doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone to support metabolic and other processes throughout the body. The disorder is especially common in women.

Treatment is relatively straightforward - take thyroid hormone replacement therapy by mouth - and is very effective.

Indeed, once you start taking thyroid hormone replacement medication the thyroid gland gets the message that it doesn't need to make any more thyroid hormone - but it wasn't making enough to keep you well in the first place.

Thus - there really should be no concern about shutting off one's thyroid gland when taking treatment for hypothyroidism. The most important thing is to maintain adequate thyroid hormone levels throughout your life so you can feel and be healthy.

And that means staying on the medication throughout your life. Weaning off the medication will do you no benefit but will almost certainly do you harm.

While I wish you didn't have hypothyroidism, I am grateful for the fact that the condition can be managed so easily. Your primary care doctor, sometimes with the assistance of a specialist called an endocrinologist, will be your best guide.

If you want to learn more about hypothyroidism, watch my BRIEF VIDEO on the topic that you can access here -

Thanks for your question, N. Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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