How Effective is Levothyroxine & What are It’s Side Effects?

Levothyroxine is not for the treatment of weight problems or obesity. With the misuse of levothyroxine, death or dangerous side effects can occur. This will happen mainly if you are taking other appetite suppressants or weight loss medicines.

How Effective is Levothyroxine?

How Effective is Levothyroxine?

Levothyroxine is a medication to effectively treat thyroid. The main working of the medicine levothyroxine is to replace a normally produced hormone in the body which controls the body’s metabolism and energy levels. This medicine is given only when thyroid can’t produce sufficient hormones itself.

Levothyroxine can be used to effectively treat low thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). Apart from that, levothyroxine can effectively prevent and treat goiter which is the enlarged thyroid gland that is mainly caused do to radiation treatment, cancer, hormone imbalances, surgery.

You should not take levothyroxine when you have certain medical problems such as uncontrolled or untreated gland disorder, thyrotoxicosis (thyroid disorder) or any recent symptoms of heart attack.

Prior to Taking Levothyroxine

Anyone can take levothyroxine if needed since thyroid occurs naturally in the body. If you have certain medical conditions as those mentioned below, you should not take this medicine levothyroxine.

It is important to tell your doctor if you have any of these conditions to make levothyroxine safe for you:

  • Lack of red blood cells (anemia)
  • Any drug or food allergies
  • Thyrotoxicosis (thyroid disorder)
  • Low bone mineral density or osteoporosis
  • Coronary artery disease, heart disease, history of blood clots
  • Diabetes (oral medicines or insulin must be altered while taking this medicine)
  • Uncontrolled or untreated adrenal gland disorder
  • Pituitary gland problems

If you have had a recent heart attack or have symptoms of it such as heavy feeling, cheat pain, pain spreading to shoulder or jaw, sweating, nausea, general ill feeling.
It is important for you tell your physician if you had any iodine radiation therapy recently like the I-131

If you are planning to become pregnant or if you are already pregnant then you must tell our doctor about it. However levothyroxine is not expected to cause any harm to the baby. Do not stop this medicine without doctors’ advice. With love thyroid hormone levels at the time of pregnancy, could harm baby and mother. Doctor might change your dosages during pregnancy.

If you are breast feeding your child, you must inform your doctor as levothyroxine will pass through breast milk to the baby. Doctor might change your dosages during breast feeding period.

This medicine should not be given to children without doctor’s knowledge. Levothyroxine is not to be given for children below 6 years old.

How to Take Levothyroxine?

Levothyroxine has to be taken only as prescribed by the doctor. It is important to follow all the guidelines mentioned in the label. There are chances for your doctor to change your dosage levels from time to time. Levothyroxine should not be taken in smaller or larger amount and when not needed at all.

Levothyroxine is more effective when taken in empty stomach or half an hour before morning meal. It is important to take levothyroxine at the same time each day and follow doctor’s advice correctly.

  • Swallow the levothyroxine capsule or tablet as it is with a full glass of water (8 ounces). The capsule might swell in your throat and dissolve quickly.
  • It is important to the check child’s weight when levothyroxine is given to the child. The dosages are mainly based on weight in children and changes will also allow the doctor to change the dosage levels.
  • It might take a couple of weeks for your body to respond to levothyroxine. You must continue taking levothyroxine even if you feel better. However, you will have to take medicines for the throat for your remaining life.
  • You will need to have regular medical tests when you take this medicine. Whichever healthcare provider treats you, tell them you are on this medicine.

What are the Side Effects of Levothyroxine?

If you have any side effects of allergic reactions to levothyroxine you will need to get emergency medical assistance, here are the symptoms such as swelling in tongue, face, throat, lips, difficulty in breathing, hives.

If you experience any of these severe side effects of levothyroxine, get immediate medical assistance:

  • Chest pain,
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular or fast heart rate
  • Feeling unusually cold
  • Hot flashes, fever, sweating
  • Irritable, feeling depressed, memory problems
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, weight changes, appetite changes
  • Muscle aches
  • Unsual changes in menstrual periods
  • Hair loss, dryness of hair or skin

Here are few more common side effects of levothyroxine:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness, leg cramps
  • Mild hair loss, skin rash is also side effect of levothyroxine
  • Irritable or feeling nervous

What Medicines to Avoid while Taking Levothyroxine?

There are few medicines that in combination with levothyroxine will make it less effective. If you take these medicines, make sure you take it 4 hours prior or after taking Levothyroxine.

  • Colestipol, cholestryamine
  • Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Kayexalate, Kalexate or kionex)
  • Calcium carbonate (Os-Cal, Alka-Mints, Oyster Shell Calcium, Tums, calcium oyster shell, Rolaids soft chew)
  • Ferrous sulfate iron supplement
  • Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (kionex, kayexalate, kalexate)
  • Antacids which contain magnesium or aluminum (Milk of magnesia, Acid-gone, pepcid complete, maaloz, gaviscon, Mylanta, mintox)
  • You must avoid using infant soy formula, high fiber foods, walnuts, cotton seed meal as these food products will make body absorb less levothyroxine.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 10, 2019

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