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Hypothyroidism Treatment and Management
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Treatment of hypothyroidism requires life-long therapy (with the exception of certain conditions).
The majority of people with hypothyroidism are treated with one of the synthetic forms of the T4 thyroid hormone (Levoxyl, Synthroid). This is a more stable form of thyroid hormone and requires once a day dosing, whereas preparations containing T3 (the most active thyroid hormone) are much shorter-acting and need to be taken multiple times a day. Synthetic T4 is readily and steadily converted to T3 naturally in the bloodstream in the great majority of people, and this conversion is appropriately regulated by the body's tissues. A brand name preparation of L-thyroxine is recommended over generic preparations, and individuals should use the same brand of levothyroxine throughout treatment (See Figure 1 below).
Figure 1: The "rainbow" of L-thyroxine dose pills available. For patients taking L-thyroxine, blood levels of TSH should be checked every four to six weeks (when newly started or a dosage or brand change takes place), in order to see if a L-thyroxine dose change is necessary
Other thyroid hormone replacements are available but are not often recommended for replacement therapy. These include: desiccated thyroid hormone, T3 (triiodothyronine), and combinations of thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/31/2016
Stephanie L Lee, MD, PhD, FACE
Sonia Ananthakrishnan, MD
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