Why Recovery Often Takes Longer Than Simply Being on the Right Thyroid Medication

I sometimes get asked by patients why they still don't feel well even though they think they are on the correct thyroid hormone type and dosage for them.

This is most often because of one or more of:
1) The patient isn't  really on the right combination or type of thyroid treatment.
2) They have had their medication levels managed by a doctor based on thyroid lab test results (and these have been used incorrectly, without taking advantage of all the new research). Often they are kept undermedicated due to rigidly attempting to manage dosages via the lab results.
3) There may be some nutritional deficiency, or a more complicated issue behind the situation.

These types of situations are dealt with in my books 'The Thyroid Patient's Manual' and in 'Recovering with T3' (for those that need T3 therapy).

However, in a few cases the patient actually is on the right treatment for them, but it hasn't fully corrected everything and they still do not feel 100% ok.

Why would this be?

Well, my own history is pretty well documented in the 'Recovering with T3' book and my blog posts discuss some of it..

It took me 10 years to recover. I had first to give up believing the bad information I was being told from many doctors: that my blood tests said I was normal and thyroid hormone was being treated correctly. Once I had given up believing this, and found the treatment that I actually needed, it still took me a few years to fine tune my thyroid hormone dosing to ideal for me at the time. However, I was still not 100%.

When someone has been terribly ill for a long time it is unreasonable to expect them to just bounce back to normal even if they are on the right thyroid hormone dose.

I had to take things easy still. I began to do regular light exercise at home. I joined a tennis club and played with a mixture of relative beginners and older people. I had played tennis as a young person but not for years. But joining a club and playing with friendly, nice people who I could have fun with was ideal. It was social and it was not overly physically demanding.  I tried to eat a good diet and I took a good range of supplements. 

Even with all of this my body was still adjusting. I had to get cortisol levels back to where they needed to be. The hypothalamus-pituitary system takes a long time to recover when it has been suppressed for years on the wrong thyroid treatment. The pituitary basically runs on T3, just as a car runs on fuel. It can take a long time to fully get back to good performance.

In my case I would say, even after being on a good dose of thyroid hormone for me, it still took several more years to fully recover and build my body back up. My cortisol slowly improved and I was able to further increase my thyroid medication.

Recovery can be slow. It is not surprising. If illness lasts 10 years, to expect recovering to be instantaneous or quick is not reasonable. 

Sometimes we need to be patient with ourselves and take care of ourselves during it.

I hope this helps some of you.

My best wishes,

Paul