The thyroid gland in your neck produces hormones that help maintain balance in your body. These hormones affect many bodily functions, including metabolism, and when the thyroid produces too much or too little of these, doctors often prescribe anti-thyroid hormones or thyroid hormone replacements to restore balance. Levothyroxine, for example, is a thyroid hormone prescribed for patients who are hypothyroid (underactive gland). However, some people fail to take their medications regularly.

Some of the common reasons why people are not taking thyroid meds include perceptions of lack of improvement in their condition or presence of side effects. Others claim they cannot afford to buy medicines regularly, some forget to take them daily, while others simply do not want to take medicines at all. Then there are other individuals who would rather use natural remedies, like vitamins or herbs instead of drugs to treat their symptoms. But what happens when you stop taking levothyroxine?

What Is Levothyroxine Used For?

Doctors prescribe levothyroxine as a replacement for a thyroid hormone that is normally produced in the gland to regulate your body's metabolism. It is taken when the underactive thyroid does not produce enough hormone, causing symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by low thyroid hormone production. Levothyroxine is used to replace the natural thyroid hormone and can also be used prevent goiter. Goiter is a condition characterized by an enlargement of the thyroid gland, which may be caused by hormone imbalance, surgery, radiation treatment, or cancer.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Levothyroxine?

Your body needs thyroid hormones to function properly. If you have hypothyroidism, you may feel tired all the time and have a puffy face, show heartbeat, and dry skin. You may feel cold even when it is not cold, be constipated all the time, and notice significant weight gain. You need to take your medication (levothyroxine) regularly to correct these imbalances, just like insulin-dependent diabetics need insulin medications.

What happens when you stop taking levothyroxine? Levothyroxine restores balance and improves your symptoms, so if you are not taking thyroid meds, your symptoms may recur. You may also experience low energy and depression. Not taking thyroid meds can also lead to myxedema, a condition characterized by decreased breathing, low blood pressure, low body temperature, coma, and even death. This occurs when your thyroid hormone level is extremely low.

If your doctor prescribes levothryoxine for you to function normally, take it as directed and do not stop without consulting your doctor first.

Experience and advice of another patient

“Some time ago I was taking thyroid medicines until I developed palpitations and abnormal lab results. My internist advised me to stop taking the thyroid medications for 6 weeks. What happened was a benign tumor grew on my thyroid and this had to be surgically removed. Now I'm back on hormones, but at a lower dose. I was told that with hypothyroidism, especially after surgery, taking thyroid replacement drugs is necessary. What happens when you stop taking levothyroxine? You may experience anxiety or depression, like I did, in addition to hair loss and having dry and brittle nails.”

What More to Know About Taking Levothyroxine?


How should I take levothyroxine?

  • You must take your meds as prescribed by your doctor and follow the directions written on the prescription label. Do not take your medicine in smaller or larger doses or use them longer than what was recommended. Report any side effects to your doctor who may change your dose to get best results.

  • Take levothyroxine (Levoxyl) on an empty stomach, with a full glass of water. Levoxyl tablets dissolve quickly and can swell in the throat, which can possibly cause choking. Take your medicine preferably 30 minutes before you eat breakfast. Try to take it at the same time daily and follow dosing instructions.

  • Store at away from moisture and heat, preferably at room temperature.

  • The full effects of levothyroxine may kick in after several weeks, so take it daily. Continue using it even after you feel improvement in your condition. You will probably need to use it for the rest of your life as a thyroid replacement hormone.


What happens if I miss a dose?

Take one dose as soon as you remember you have missed your scheduled dose. However, you can skip the missed dose if it is almost time to take the next scheduled dose. Do not double your dose to make up for a missed dose.


What happens if I overdose?

Symptoms of levothyroxine overdose may include headache, tremors, leg cramps, nervousness or irritability, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fast/ pounding heartbeats. Call 1-800-222-1222 (Poison Help line) or get emergency medical attention.


What should I avoid?

Avoid taking medicines that can reduce the effectiveness of levothyroxine. These include calcium carbonate, aluminum or magnesium-containing antacids, cholestyramine, colestipol, sucralfate, iron supplements, and sodium polystyrene sulfonate. If you have to use any of these drugs, take them 4 hours before or after you take your levothyroxine. Tell your doctor about taking levothyroxine before he prescribes other drugs.


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  • Tammy SwortwoodJan.1 00:09
    @ AngieG. can you please email me the supplement you take [email protected] I went off the synthroid in sept 2016 and felt great now I am not doing so hot but refuse to go back on because how bad I felt on it.
  • wan to die nowNov.5 02:08
    I want to die I have suffered for years with many debilitating diseases being hit on a crosswalk surgeries buried 5 children and am done When they first found out I had hypothyroidism I was ready to go into a coma and die if I stop I taking the medication how long until I can go? I can wait a couple months but no longer and pray not to wake up every night
  • PhillipGoodmanNov.15 02:37
    @ : Honey pls. do not take your life lightly. Diseases can be healed but if you die, you will miss so many more possibilities in your life. Please please just hang in there. There are many people who are suffering and please know you are not alone. They are still people who love you and who needs your love.
  • JanetteOct.24 03:10
    I had blood work and the ARNP read the results and said thyroid is a little low , but no need for medication. The next day I received a call from the office saying come in, I need to be on meds immediately for low thyroid. So they put me on levothyroxine and statins for high cholesterol and Vitamin D because I'm deficient. After 2 months I went back in for bloodwork and I told them I feel miserable since I have been on all this medication. I have no energy and I want to sleep as soon as I get home from work, restless at night, constipation, which I never have and aches all over. They decided I now need a diuretic because my blood pressure fluctuates. I felt fine 3 months ago with the exception of being overweight. ( I have 3 jobs and have poor eating habits, 1 meal a day). I have had no symptoms and was doing fine until they put me on all this medication. They said the medication would not make me tired and it's just my lifestyle and all the work I do that is catching up to me. I have been working 3 jobs for 10 years without a problem. Coincidental that it caught up to me shortly after they put me on all this medication. Reading the other comments makes me feel better. A retired pharmacist told me not to stop the now I'm worried.
  • GaryOct.9 13:53
    Don't do DIALYSIS! !! There are more strategies to treat KIDNEY DISEASE
  • PatriciaAug.19 01:07
    I've been on levthyroxine for 3years now my Dr keeps up it I'm now on 137 Mcg every time I take it I get really sick and throw up I've stopped taking it for a few days and I don't get sick what I'm asking why does the levothyroxine make me so sick
  • TONNIE STEELEJul.18 01:03
    June of last year is when my world turned upside down. Diabetes, Hypothyroidism being the top two OMGs. My symptoms were gastric, yet I was put on 75 mcg of Levothyroxine due to lab work. My hair started to fall out and my nails became so painful and brittle with horizontal lines in them that I could not use my hands. When I told this to the next pcp in the clinic, I was told not to worry, it would stop. Yet it didn't. The next pcp was not happy and said that the dose was too high and she reduced it to 25 mcg. For a year, she has tried to increase the dosage due to the TSH level taken every few months and I have not complied for long due to the side effects. The worst is the the lesions on my scalp and body. The ones she said were scabies. No tests other than "she thought" it looked like scabies. I disagreed with her and attempted to explain that it was a reaction to the thyroid med. I asked for a full thyroid panel with T3,T4, etc but was told no. Well, got sent to a heart specialist due to an abnormal ekg and he ordered a T4. It came back normal. He said that a normal T4 meant that it wasn't really necessary to do a complete panel. I decided to stop the levo for several reasons, the best being I never had any of the problems noted with hypothyroid and now felt worse with painful joints, lesions that itch and bleed, blood pressure going up, very dry skin, so tired I couldn't get out of bed, sleeping up to 20 hours a day. gaining weight then losing it all in less than 6 months, and shortness of breath that got so bad I couldn't walk to the bathroom and back without thinking I would pass out. It has been since the 4th of July and the lesions are going away! Something my pcps said was not caused by my medication. All the other problems are slowly going away also. The down side is my blood sugar went thru the roof, but I can handle that.
  • MARIEJul.6 13:51
    I have been on levothyroxine and synthroid for more years than I can remember. It has been atleast 15years since they removed my thyroid. They told me once it was out and I was on my meds I would be back to myself. That was a total lie. First of all they still to this day can not get my meds right. Its either to high or to low so they keep changing the dosage. I am so tired of going to the doctor just to hear them tell me that my blood work is normal and nothing is wrong with me. Pretty much teling me its all in my head. But for 15 years I have been tired, feel like crap all t he time and have a ton of weird things that happen to me. First of all my memory has gone to crap. Im tired all the time. I cant ever sleep, I am up all hours of the night so that doesnt help my tiredness. But when I do finally sleep, if my husband doesnt wake me I can sleep the day away, and still feel tired. I have extremely dry skin, I lose hair like crazy, we eat very healthy, lots of fish and chicken but still can not lose this weight. I can not do anything with my hands for more than a minute or two at a time before they cramp so bad. I have stopped taking my meds just cause i get tired of all the side effects, and because i just get so tired of being so tired and depressed. I can go about 3 months with out taking anything, but then I start getting differnt effects, like my arms going numb, major itching all over that i can not stand, and body pain I can not explain. I start feeling bad but can not pin point it. I am so tired of going to doctors that do not listen to what is going on. That only believe that if i take the prescription they give me i will be fine. But I am not. I barely have the energy to go to work. I dont have a hard job but I can barely do it. I am so fuzzy in the head, tired, and just fed up with it all. So if anyone has any ideas please help.
  • Angie GJun.7 16:49
    I have been on levothyroxin for about 10 years here ... I take it correctly in the morning wait 30 mins to an hour before anything else . This past year I have had these symptoms I told my doctor that I had been feeling depressed my period was lasting 14 days I had absolutely no energy . He told me that was normal for my period to last 14 days . I just knew it couldn't be normal oh and also my weight soared . My neices introduced me to a supplement totally natural I take this along with my levothyroxin.. My period is back to 5 days my cholesterol has dropped I've lost at least 20 lbs because now I have energy I am no longer depressed. I am seriously thinking about not taking my levothyroxin I am on 175 mg .. I have been taking this triangle of health for 2 months absolutely love it and I feel 100% better...
  • HelenJun.14 21:19
    @ : Angie what is the supplement you are taking? I can give you my email. Helen [email protected]
  • HeidiJul.6 19:48
    @ : what is the supplement that you are taking? you can email me at [email protected] (Heidi)
  • Karen PrimmAug.3 03:22
    @ : Email me what supplement you are taking please, I don't have a thyroid, do you still have yours? Kaprimm1@
  • PamelaDec.5 19:09
    @ : @Angie G: would you please share the supplement you are taking? My email is [email protected] thank you.
  • Angie M.Jun.2 13:26
    I was on the Levothyroxin (50 mg once a day) for about a year I really never liked it. I never felt any relief. I fell asleep, kept putting on weight etc.. My doctor wanted me to get more blood test until he would renew my prescription, but I didn't get the test and stopped taking it. Now I think that I may have developed Hyperthyroidism, due to the amount of weight that I've lost. I just don't know what to do. If I talk to my doctor, he's just going to change the dose of that Levothyroxin. Why are these doctors so "BIG"on prescribing medication? There has GOT to be a more natural alternative to Levothyroxin or any other medicine used to treat Hypothyroidism.
  • BrendaJun.2 03:17
    I've been doing research on taking levothyroxine because after having a thyroidectomy 4 years ago it was prescribed to me and made me feel somewhat worse than I felt before the surgery. I decided to stop taking it all together. For 2 weeks I did feel better, but woke up this morning with a very puffy face, swelled fee and, hands. I decided to research a bit further and learned it was likely from not taking my medicine. I've struggled to find the right dosage, but I have learned that it's very important to take it on an empty stomach with water and not to mix with other medications of any kind. I read some articles that taking it at night was really helpful since you're less likely to eat or drink, which I did try before I stopped taking it completely and noticed it did help. I'm thinking that I'll continue to do that rather than not at all until I find a better solution since I also have learned the dangers in taking nothing. The swelling had me quite worried and unable to function in my daily routine. Hoping I'll wake in the morning with the swelling and puffiness gone now that I've taken it tonight. Any advice would be much appreciated though on what to do from here because I can't help but feel there has got to be something that doesn't leave me feeling sluggush, over weight, which I can't control no matter how I try, fogged memory, and just multiple things. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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