Since my diagnosis at age six, I have been looking for new ways manage my TSH levels and minimize the effects of my hypothyroidism. While I have had periods of health, other months, I was a slave to my thyroid disease. Rising and falling TSH levels made life miserable. Through ups and downs, I’ve learned from first-hand experience how to prevent my hypothyroidism and fluctuating TSH levels from interfering with my life.
Managing TSH Levels #1: Test, test, test
The childhood and adolescent years are the most complicated to manage TSH levels, considering that constant growth means constant levothyroxine dosage adjustment. I cannot enough stress the importance of frequent blood tests, especially for teens undergoing a growth spurt. Even right after a patient’s TSH levels are found awry and the dosage is increased, be alert for reemerging low thyroid symptoms. Based on experience, a corrected levothyroxine dosage takes 2-3 weeks to make a difference for the patient. My endocrinologist waits 4-6 weeks to retest my TSH levels. Even when the tests come back satisfactory, I’ve reentered a hypothyroid state just 3 or 4 months later. While the actual blood-drawing induces anxiety in some, I have embraced it as an important step in restoring my TSH levels.
Managing TSH Levels #2: Know what you eat
All new thyroid patients are warned different foods can have interactions with their medication. However, total avoidance of soy ingredients, walnuts, and fiber is not only impractical, but not as important as consistency in the diet. For example, if you’ve discovered a cereal you eat daily has soy ingredients, eliminating it completely may not be the best option. If your TSH levels have been stable, your body has adjusted to the regular soy intake. In addition, don’t purposely limit dietary fiber; it is not in the best interest of your health. Simply eat as you wish and allow your TSH levels and medication dosage to adapt.
Managing TSH Levels #3: Other medications/supplements
Just as thyroid patients must wait a half hour to hour to eat after taking levothyroxine, they should distance the consumption of certain drugs from the time they take thyroid hormones. To keep TSH levels in check, the following should be spaced at least 4 hours:
– Calcium supplements
– Iron supplements
– Weight loss drugs (Xenical, Alli)
– Gas-preventing drugs (Gas-X, Mylicon)
– Cholestyramine (Questran, Prevalite)
– Sucralfate (Carafate)
– Colestipol (Colestid)
Informed patients can be their own advocates when it comes to managing their TSH levels and living fully and healthily with hypothyroidism.