Synthroid vs Levothyroxine the debate...

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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 117
   Posted 2/1/2012 6:02 PM (GMT -6)   
I wanted to get some feelers out on this.  I have a follow up appointment with my Doctor in a few weeks. 
1.  Do you take synthroid or levothyroxine?
2.  If you have tried both like me which one do you feel the best on?
3.  If you have asked to go back to the Synthroid after being on Generic does the doctor/insurance usually go along with this?
4.  Do you your lab results always tend to come back normal yet you still have many symptoms of Hypothyroid?
5.  Why is this such a difficult thing to monitor and find the right dose?  Even specialist seem to have a hard time with this one.
For me I take levothyroxine at the moment 88mcg and I still have a lot of hypo symptoms going on.  My biggest complaint right now is weight gain and fatigue.  When I was on Synthroid my weight held very steady.  I honestly think I felt better when I was on Synthroid.  At some point and time I was switched to Levothyroxine.  I'm not sure if my doctor recommended this or if the pharmacy did it because it was cheaper.  They have both assured me their is no difference in the two, but doing a bit of research I am finding that yes their is quite a bit of difference in the two meds.  When I get my lab work done on follow up appointments they always seem to come back normal so my dose hasn't been changed in a long time.  I have heard and read that sometimes when trying to go back to the Synthroid after being on the generic that doctors can put up a bit of a fight and that insurance can be a bit sticky about it.  I would like to try the Synthroid again at the same dose just for comparison sake.  I can honestly say that since I have been on levothyroxine I just haven't felt great.  I've mentioned this to my doctor and all he has to go by is the numbers.  According to the numbers I should feel fine. I'm sure many of you have heard this song before.  I thought maybe my weight gain was contributed to Lyrica which I have recently stopped.  I'm still gaining weight though. 
I'm trying to get my thoughts on this so I can approach my doctor and say look something isn't right here.  I'm still tired a lot of the time, I still am gaining weight, I still have pain issues.  I feel like we're still missing a bit of the overall puzzle here.  I've been dealing with Hypothyroid and Hashimoto's for over 10 years now and I just don't feel like we've hit the nail on the head with all this.  It's like we're putting a piece together here and there but it just feels like we're missing something.  maybe I'm thinking to much about it.  I just want to go into my appointment ready to ask him to put me back on Synthroid and see if there is any change in how i feel.  Is that so much to ask?  I don't think he'll give me to much grief, but I've been on it now for about two years.  So, I'm sure he'll question me some about why I want to suddenly switch.  It seems like some months i might feel pretty good and other months i always feel like i'm coming down with something.  You know how you feel when your fighting a cold you just feel iky.  I've felt that way this way the last couple of months.  I know it's not a cold or the flu or anything like that and i guess it just got me wondering about the difference in the two.  Thanks for the input, sorry for the long post. 

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 9907
   Posted 2/1/2012 6:15 PM (GMT -6)   
I've taken Synthroid in the past, but for the last five years I've been on levothyroxine. In my case they work equally well, but I do know people who say levothyroxine doesn't work well for them. In my case, if I took the brand when a generic is available my co-pay would go from about $5 to $50 - no matter what the drug was.
Ulcerative colitis diagnosed in 2001; symptoms as early as 1992. In remission since 2006 with Remicade.
Inflammatory osteoarthritis; osteonecrosis from steroids
Grave's disease successfully treated with radioactive iodine and now on Levothyroxine.
Type II diabetes induced by steroids.
Meds: Remicade, Colazal, Levothyroxine, Mobic, Metformin

Moderator, thyroid forum

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 117
   Posted 2/1/2012 6:17 PM (GMT -6)   
here it is in a nutshell think i'm going to have a little heart to heart with my doctor. I looked up side effects on Levothyroxine and after a list of the side effects it had this statement; Inadequate Levothyroxine dosage will produce or fail to ameliorate the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism

also side effects are: Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; flushing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); changes in appetite; changes in menstrual periods; chest pain; diarrhea; excessive sweating; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever; heat intolerance; joint pain; leg cramps; mental or mood changes (eg, anxiety, irritability, nervousness); muscle weakness; seizures; severe or persistent headache or fatigue; shortness of breath; stomach cramps; tremors; trouble sleeping; unusual weight gain or weight loss; vomiting; wheezing.

just something to consider for anyone not feeling a 100% when your numbers are reading normal

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2011
Total Posts : 117
   Posted 2/1/2012 6:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Here's a little food for thought;

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/19/2012 9:54 AM (GMT -6)   
Had taken Synthroid w/good success for yrs was switched to Levothyroxine --told there wouldn't be any difference, and same w/me, #'s/TSH levels are fine w/ 0.1 dose, but tired, now have high blood pressure, diagnosed w/UC 6 yrs ago (I wondered if there's something in the Levothyroxine that could have been an irritant to my system); also developed all kinds of allergies--some level to almost every food, so allergy specialist suggested I try rotation diet whereby I can't eat the same item more than 1x/every 4 days). GI specialist indicates they don't know the cause of UC (on initial diagnosis was asked if I was a runner--I was at the time, figure you're doing something to stay healthy, and it can be the cause for UC--Dr indicated that they find many of those diagnosed w/UC are runners); GI specialist indicates diet is not a factor for UC; I had asked my PCP to indicate NO SUBSTITUTES on my Rx for Synthroid, but Pharmacy had just auto refilled the Levothyroxine, so can't fill the Synthroid script 'til that 90-day supply is up. I'm hoping to get back on the Synthroid soon to see if that makes any difference in my energy level, etc.
When I was initially diagnosed w/an under-active thryroid more than 35 yrs ago, the specialist had told me to stick w/Synthroid as she said the generics were not as good--after so many yrs, and when several Dr's indicated the generics were found to be as effective, I believed them, thinking it wouldn't hurt to save some $$'s on my co-pays--live and learn. I'm praying the Lord will help me to make better decisions and enlighten the minds of the Physicians who provide my care and yours as well.
Thanks for sharing your experience--I just joined HealingWell (did a Google search for Levothyroixine and UC and found these threads). Thanks again, and may God bless you with improved health!

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 4/9/2012 5:25 AM (GMT -6)   
no difference

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2011
Total Posts : 106
   Posted 4/13/2012 1:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Can you get Synthroid in the UK?
I'm Hypothyroid, have Asthma, an I'm an Insomniac

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 153
   Posted 4/18/2012 10:10 PM (GMT -6)   
Has your doctor ever suggested that you try adding a little T3 with your levothyroxine?  A lot of people
find they feel better if they are on a little T3.  For a discussion of this, you can check out the
Also, I was feeling a lot like you. My TSH was low after treatment but I still had hypothyroid symptoms.
So I started looking for answers. Some of the books that have really helped explain things are
Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal? by Datis Kharrazian;
Hope for Hashimoto's by Alexander Haskell; Solved: The Riddle of Illness by Stephen Langer;
and Stop the THyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe.
You might even consider trying to find a doctor who treats according to symptoms rather than lab
tests. A naturopath or a doctor of functional medicine might be more helpful. I am finding that a
lot of doctors are not very well informed concerning thyroid disease.  For an excellent explanation
of Hashimoto's, check out the video series at Dr. Haskell's website:
I really hope you find some answers and some relief.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/25/2013 7:59 PM (GMT -6)   
The Synthroid ruined my life. I became depressed, and the only adjective I could use to describe who I was would be "tired." I had ZERO energy. The only thing I could do was sleep. I missed 40 days of school that year. I got virus after virus after virus. I gained fifteen pounds.
Luckily I figured out it was a mistake to put me on that medicine by switching doctors.. but the damage had been done..
Synthroid can be VERY good given that it WORKS FOR YOu and your body. However if you feel any of the symptoms I just listed please do not hesitate to ask for an alternative. Nobody deserves to go through the hell I went through.
Doctors will try to convince you the synthroid "can't make you gain weight." But I have spoken to numerous people who have had the same experience I did. The synthroid helps some but destroys other. Always look at the side effects of a medication before taking it, and if you feel differently on a medicine speak up.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2013
Total Posts : 1069
   Posted 11/30/2013 11:19 PM (GMT -6)   
As maggiemae said; find yourself a better doctor who's primary concern is to make you better and who doesn't go by the numbers. Everyone's body is different and what works for some may not work for others. If you are symptomatic, your doctor should focus on addressing those issues no matter what your lab results show.

Also, if your prescription says to "not substitute with generics" then the pharmacy has no right to give you what they want. If you notice a discrepancy, go back and demand that they correct their error. It could be your health on the line.

New Member

Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/24/2014 3:39 AM (GMT -6)   
I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid in 1982. Since then, I've been bounced back and forth from Synthroid to Levothyroxine. Its true, although the numbers may be right, the overall feeling of not feeling well, weight gain, loss of sleep, and irritability seem to be more pronounced while taking Levothyroxine. Meanwhile, on the record, generally speakinmost doctors can't be bothered by listening to their patients. Sometime during the bouncing from brand to generic, but not before being labeled a "difficult patient"; which I am sure is now written in my medical file as once my medical file is secured I am able to detect different treatment by medical professionals. In any event, a while ago I decided that my care would be handled my way. I am insistent about only being prescribed Synthroid for a couple of reasons. First, many people have Hypothyroidism and I have been told by some of them in the medical profession (other than doctors) that Synthroid is the only way to go and, secondly, I am ALWAYS the best judge of what works best for me and have never taken drugs just because I was told to. If I had, I would have become a drug addict years ago. The best way to guard against a pharmacy deciding to provide the generic is to have the doctor add, "FILL AS PRESCRIBED" on the prescription.

I am now older and am experiencing other genetic health challenges and although I have had a reaction to a steroid and was specifically told by my former doctor NOT to take them and was not given a replacement, an NP seems to think I should just try a different one. Meanwhile, the one I was prescribed interrupts my sleep. I have now stopped taking it and will discuss the matter at a future visit. For now. I am trying to control things with diet and exercise, which is a challenge in itself.

My advice to everyone is, if you have taken pretty good care of yourself most of your life and are reasonably intelligent, don't be afraid to take charge of your own healthcare. It will, most likely, beat the alternative. Why? Because no one else has the time nor the investment.

New Member

Date Joined Nov 2014
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 11/15/2014 8:32 AM (GMT -6)   
My doctor switched me from Synthroid to lyvoxol last month at my request due to the difference in cost. Since that time I have gained three or 4 pounds and my head is been super itchy. I am now thinking that it is all due to the change in meds from Synthroid to Levoxyl. I will be calling him first thing Monday morning to switch me back immediately.
Anyone else have the same reaction? I had my thyroid removed 13 years ago and I am on the dose of 175.... Just FYI

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2012
Total Posts : 373
   Posted 11/15/2014 9:28 AM (GMT -6)   

It's possible that Levoxyl is still good for you but you just need to adjust the dose, since different brand names use different formulations it is possible that the dose needs to be increased/decreased .

Was 175 mcg/day your dose while on Synthroid?

Another possibility is that not each brand works for all of us, every one needs to find what works.


New Member

Date Joined Nov 2014
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 11/15/2014 1:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi... Yes, I was 175 before. I'm due for a blood draw this week .... Should be telling.
Thanks for the input!

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 9907
   Posted 11/15/2014 4:18 PM (GMT -6)   
I started out on Synthroid years ago, but was changed to levothyroxine when there was an inavailability of Synthroid. I never detected a bit of difference in the effect on me. My dosage recently was bumped up slightly, but I know that most people do require a bit higher dosage as they age.

I'm sorry you all are among the minority of people who do seem to metabolize the medications differently.
Thyroid forum moderator

Ulcerative colitis; 8th year of remission with Remicade. Inflammatory osteoarthritis; osteonecrosis from steroids. Grave's disease post-RAI and now on Levothyroxine. Type II diabetes induced by steroids.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2014
Total Posts : 31
   Posted 11/29/2014 4:39 AM (GMT -6)   
I am a label slave and I eat mega healthy , all organic and when I was told of this thyroid issue I was on the fence about taking any pills for it and when I asked my doctor for her opinion , and her opinion as a regular gal and not a doctor she said she would go on the meds so me being a label slave I told her the only way I would agree would be on a name brand drug , no way a generic , I figure if I shop for name brand goods that have no affect on my health how on earth could I take a knock off drug and the pharmacist assured me there was no difference , that I refuse to believe and never will believe , trust is one of my issues , so synthroid for me
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