Thyroid Hormone Instructions

Instructions for patients who take Thyroid Hormone:


Printer-friendly version


Thyroid hormone is usually taken to replace thyroid hormone that the body can no longer make, but there can be other reasons. Thyroid hormone preparations in common use are Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid, Levothroid and the generic Levothyroxin.

It is virtually unheard off to have side effects from thyroid hormone in the correct dose. After all, the purpose of thyroid hormone replacement is just that - to replace something that is missing! Very rarely a patient can have an allergy to the binding that holds the pill together or to the food coloring that gives it color; if you think you are having an allergic reaction, let your doctor know.

Ask your pharmacist to not switch brands of thyroid hormone on you. It is best to take one of the name brands, but the better-made generic brands are probably OK. Again ask your pharmacist for a well made generic, if that is what you want. Different brands have slightly different potencies and that may be important.

It is easiest to remember to take thyroid hormone if you take it at the same time every day, so it becomes a habit. Moreover, every time you change the way you take it – for instance changing from taking it always at dinner to always first thing in the morning, the dose may need to change. If you start and stop a lot of other medications, the dose of thyroid hormone may also need to change. The list of medications that are known to interfere with thyroid hormone dose is rapidly growing and includes even some vitamins, but for most of these medications the problem only occurs if you take the other medication right with your thyroid hormone.

For all these reasons it is probably best to take thyroid hormone first thing in the morning with only water and without any other pills or food. However, if that is difficult for you, talk to your doctor about an alternative.

If you do forget a pill, make it up by taking it later that day or even the next day. And if you forget to take them with you on a weekend trip take all the pills you missed when you get back, up to three at once. If you miss more that three days, you will probably start feeling tired. And if you forget often, count out seven pills on Sunday, put them aside, try to take one each day, but then the next Sunday take whatever is left.

Once the dose of thyroid hormone dose is right, it tends not to change for years. We therefore recommend a blood test to make sure the dose is right just once per year. However, more thyroid hormone is usually needed during pregnancy, so let your doctor know if you get pregnant immediately. Significant gain or loss of weight may also require adjustment of your dose, so tell your doctor if you gain or lose more than 15 pounds.

If you are not sure about something, call your doctor and ask.

The Foundation’s 21st Annual Golf Tournament raised $150,000 for the new Cancer Center.

More Info