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Treatment for Underactive Thyroid

Outcome of Underactive Thyroid Treatment

In most cases, hypothyroidism symptoms and signs begin to improve within two weeks of the medicine being started. People with more severe symptoms may need a couple of months of treatment before they are completely better.
Most people with an underactive thyroid need treatment for the rest of their lives. Their dosage may change at times, such as during pregnancy (see Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy), if the person gains weight, or if they begin taking certain other medicines (see Drug Interactions With Levothyroxine and Precautions and Warnings With Levothyroxine for more information).
This condition can almost always be completely controlled on a long-term basis with hormone replacement therapy, as long as the recommended dose is taken every day as instructed. Be aware of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you notice any changes in symptoms, or if they return, see your healthcare provider to see if your medications need to be adjusted.

Do You Need Treatment If You Don't Have Symptoms?

A person can be diagnosed with an underactive thyroid based on a routine blood test but not have any symptoms. Whether or not they need treatment is controversial.
Some healthcare providers treat subclinical hypothyroidism (which is when a person has no apparent symptoms) immediately. This is more often the case if the person has high TSH levels or a goiter. Other healthcare providers prefer to leave subclinical hypothyroidism untreated but monitor the person for signs that the condition is worsening.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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