Thyroid Medications (cont.)
Thyroid Hormone Replacement
There are two main purposes for taking thyroid hormone:
- to replace the thyroid hormone levels when your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), and
- to suppress further growth of thyroid tissue, in the treatment of thyroid cancer or benign nodular thyroid disease.
L-thyroxine (also called LT4 or levothyroxine)
L-thyroxine is the most commonly used form of thyroid hormone.
- This medicine contains the synthetic form of a thyroid hormone
- L-thyroxine as medication is identical to the L-thyroxine which is the major hormone made by the thyroid gland
- L-thyroxine is the most commonly prescribed form of thyroid hormone replacement
Initial L-thyroxine dose
- The initial dose of LT4 is based on age, weight, and medical history.
- Current brands include:
- levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid)
- Multiple generic forms of L-thyroxine including but not limited to Levothroid
Physicians should be aware of the following conditions that their patients may also have when prescribing L-thyroxine:
L-thyroxine is taken once each day by mouth
- Stable blood levels of thyroid hormone are achieved when L-thyroxine is taken at approximately the same time each day, ideally the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Avoid taking food within 1 hour and avoid calcium, iron sucralfate, aluminum-containing antacid, and multivitamins within 2 hours before or after the dose.
- If a dose is skipped, two doses may be taken the following day.
Blood levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) should be checked approximately 4-6 weeks following each adjustment of LT4 dose.
Side effects that your physician should be aware of include:
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