Hypothyroidism, Thyroid Medications and Their Side Effects
If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or have had a thyroidectomy your doctor will probably prescribe thyroid medication.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Weight gain
- Blurry vision
- Muscle aches
- Loss of hair
- Dry skin
- Intolerance of cold
Thyroid medication replaces the thyroid hormones in your body so that your metabolism and other functions will be as normal as possible. It is important that you understand the medication, side effects, and the need to work closely with your doctor on adjusting the dose so that you can get the most benefit out of it. Like any medication there are things you can do to help your medication be more effective.
The most common thyroid medications are:
- Natural Thyroid
L-thyroxine is probably one of the most common medications prescribed for hypothyroid conditions. Along with numerous generic brand names, common names for L-thyroxine are:
This medication mimics the T-4 hormone that is produced by the body. Your doctor will prescribe you an initial dose based on your age, weight, and other criteria. Every few weeks you will need to meet with your doctor, have your blood levels checked and discuss your symptoms and how you feel. Your doctor will then adjust the dose and repeat the process. It can take six months or more to find the best level for you. Be patient and keep a journal of how you feel and your symptoms. This will help your doctor to find the correct dose more quickly.
How to take L-thyroxine:
- It is important to take L-thyroxine at the same time every day.
- Take it on an empty stomach and wait at least an hour before eating
- Take it with plenty of water but no milk or other products that contains calcium
- Do not take L-thyroxine at the same time as your vitamins, minerals, or other medications.
Side Effects of L-thyroxine:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid weight loss
- Abnormal periods for women
This is the synthetic T-3 hormone. It must be taken several times a day and is not normally given long term. It is most often given to thyroid patients who will be going through radiation therapy. It keeps them from being too hypothyroid when they are off their medication.
Natural Thyroid (Armour)
This medication is very controversial. It is the “original” thyroid replacement medication and was in common use until the 1970s when synthroid was released.
It is derived from pig thyroid and contains both T-3 and T-4. There are those that have gotten relief from their hypothyroid symptoms on natural thyroid when synthroid just wasn't working.
The opponents say that it is not consistent and may have impurities. If you have not been able to get relief from your hypothyroid symptoms on synthroid it may be worth taking to your doctor about
Substances that Interact with Thyroid Medication
Calcium, iron, fiber, and aluminum (like in baking powder or certain antacids) can bind to thyroid medication and keep your body form absorbing it. This is why you should take it first thing in the morning with water and then wait for as long as possible before eating or taking other medications.
Some foods can also interfere with the absorption of this medication. You should separate the time you take the medication and eating these products by several hours. It may also be a good idea to limit your use of these foods over all, especially if your medication does not seem to be “working”.
Foods that interact with Thyroid medications are:
- High fiber foods
- Cheese of all kinds
- Collard Greens
- Soy milk
- Yogurt (both dairy and soy
Herbs that you need to limit are:
- Bugleweed-don;t use at all
- Lemon Balm – don't use at all
- St Johnswort
Other substances that interfere or that can interact:
- Anti-cholesterol drugs
- Anti-reflux medications
- Bile acid medications
- Blood thinners
- Calcium and calcium enriched foods
for asthma or other breathing problems
Medicine for colds, sinus problems, or hay fever or other allergies
- Vitamin supplements
Also during hormonal changes like menopause, breastfeeding, or pregnancy your medication may need to be adjusted more often.
Always Check with Your Helath Care Provider
If you are taking medication for low thyroid levels or are about to begin to take these medications you owe it to yourself to research the things that will interfere. Take the medication in such a way that it will have the biggest impact on your health. Always talk to your doctor or health care provider about dietary changes and changes in medicine.