Hypothyroidism Medication Mistakes To Avoid
Taking your thyroid hormone as prescribed can help you stave off the unpleasant symptoms of low thyroid.
The goal of hypothyroidism treatment is to replace the thyroid hormone that you are not able to produce. This helps you feel more energized and back to your normal self, says Antonio Bianco, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago in Illinois.
After youre diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your healthcare provider will likely prescribe a synthetic hormone that helps stabilize your thyroid levels, Dr. Bianco says. But there are some guidelines for taking the medication that you need to know about.
Heres how to avoid the most common hypothyroidism medication mistakes.
You Forget To Take Your Thyroid Medication
One of the most common mistakes is to forget to take your thyroid medication. Angie takes Synthroid.
“I forget to take it a lot! That is my biggest mistake. I tried writing myself a note, setting a reminder, getting a daily pill box, and leaving it out on the counter so I see it. I will be great for like two months, then forget two or three days in a row and wonder: ‘Why do I feel like crap?'”
Even a few days of forgetfulness can have an impact on your health. It is also particularly important to remember your thyroid medication if you are on a suppressive dose to prevent a recurrence of thyroid cancer.
You Don’t Recognize The Symptoms Of Overmedication
If you end up accidentally overmedicated on thyroid hormone replacement, you can experience many symptoms you may not realize are related to your thyroid medication.
Caroline spent two years in this situation.
“I had rushes of adrenaline, a thumping heartbeat, racing heart rate, sweating, feelings of extreme hunger, and high blood pressure. They put all these symptoms down to anxiety. After my prescription was accidentally lowered by 25 percent, all my symptoms have subsided!”
Some other symptoms of overmedication include diarrhea, weight loss, and insomnia. If you have any of these symptoms while on thyroid medication, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.
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You Stop Taking Your Medication While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
Most women are very careful about prescription and over-the-counter medications during and after pregnancy. But it’s important to realize that for a healthy pregnancy and baby, not only must you continue to take your thyroid hormone replacement medication, you will probably require a dosage increase. Unfortunately, not all doctors know this, as Joyce learned. She says: “I stopped talking Synthroid while pregnant on my doctor’s advice.”
You should also continue to take your thyroid hormone replacement medication while breastfeeding. If you are on the proper dosage, very little medication reaches your baby via breast milk.
Which Is Better Synthroid Or Armour Thyroid Medication
The American Thyroid Association along with other international thyroid organizations agree that Synthroid is the most effective treatment option. There is no strong evidence to suggest Armour Thyroid or a combination therapy of synthetic T4 and T3 produce better results than Synthroid in most people .
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How To Take Hypothyroidism Medication The Right Way
1) Get the exact same type of thyroid medication from your pharmacy every time
The hormone levels in most thyroid replacement medications are not consistent from one drugmaker to the next. So a bottle of 100 mcg levothyroxine tablets from one drug company might not contain the same amount of thyroid hormone as a bottle of levothyroxine from another drug company. This is why your healthcare providers will urge you to stick to one drugmaker for your thyroid medications. If you do end up having to change manufacturers, your healthcare provider may end up having to change your dose a bit.
2) Take your hypothyroidism medications on an empty stomach
Its best to take your thyroid meds on an empty stomach ideally 30 minutes to an hour before your first meal of the day. Taking it on an empty stomach helps your body absorb the full dosage.
3) Dont take your medicine within 4 hours of taking iron-, aluminum-, or calcium-containing supplements or antacids
Minerals like iron, aluminum, and calcium bind to levothyroxine and keep your body from absorbing all the thyroid medication. That means you wont get the full dosage, and you may not get the relief from hypothyroidism symptoms youre looking for.
4) Avoid thyroid support supplements or herbal supplements without your doctors approval
5) Give the medication several weeks to have its full effect
6) Look out for common thyroid replacement therapy side effects
8) Dont stop taking levothyroxine suddenly
What Happens If I Miss My Thyroid Medication One Day
- What happens if you forget to take your thyroid medication
- What should you do if you forget
- Tricks to never missing another dose
Life sometimes gets the best of us, and we forget to take our thyroid medication. Whether it is waking up to a sick child or dog, rushing out for an early presentation, or just forgetting to pick up a refill, skipped doses happen. Indeed, we are all human.
Your thyroid medication is essential, and you need to take it every day. However, if you forget to take one dose, it is not a catastrophe. Let’s explore what you can expect if you miss a dose of thyroid medication and how you can prevent missing doses in the future.
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Myth #: You Need To Take Iodine With It
The fact is that NDT has 0.17 0.23% iodine by weight. People who have thyroid disease do best when they have 100 300 micrograms of iodine total .
Lets do the math. 1 grain of NDT is equivalent to about 130 micrograms of iodine. That brings us to about 230 micrograms of iodine, simply from NDT and our diet alone.
We do not need to take iodine along with NDT, as we get enough from the combination of our diet and NDT itself. If you do take extra iodine, pushing your levels above 300 micrograms can slow the thyroid. This is something you definitely want to avoid.
Understanding Armour Thyroid And Hypothyroidism
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Myth #: Your Reverse T3 Levels Will Raise Higher
This goes back to our same, earlier issue about ratios. If you are on too much thyroid, your body will ultimately compensate this will result in your body converting more T4 into T3 than it otherwise normally would.
Bottom Line: High reverse T3, in nearly all cases, is more of an issue of the wrong dose rather than the wrong medicine. If you get the dose right, reverse T3 is apt to fix itself.
Everything You Need To Know About Armour Thyroid
What is Armour thyroid?
Armour thyroid is a prescription medication that is used to treat patients with the diagnosis of hypothyroidism.
As you probably know hypothyroidism is a condition in the body which results in a decreased production or utilization of thyroid hormone in the body.
As a result patients with a “sluggish” thyroid often experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, cold extremities, constipation and so on.
These patients also notoriously struggle with the ability to lose weight and keep it off.
So where does Armour thyroid fit in here?
Armour thyroid is unique among thyroid medications in that it contains both the active AND inactive thyroid hormones .
This is actually quite important because the active thyroid hormone T3 is what makes thyroid hormone do its job.
Patients can take advantage of this increased potency and may actually feel much better when switching from other medications to Armour thyroid.
The question is why?
Tips For Taking Your Thyroid Medication Optimally
Overindulging On Certain Foods Which Can Also Affect How Your Thyroid Meds Work
For the most part, you shouldn’t have problems with most foods if you wait at least 45 minutes after taking your thyroid medication before you eat. But if you dont wait long enough, certain foods may impair absorption of the hypothyroid medication more than others, says Deena Adimoolam, MD, an assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. That includes foods that are high in calcium, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, kale, and spinach.
Eating a lot of soy has also been thought to impair the absorption of thyroid hormone, but a review of studies published in December 2016 in the journal Nutrients noted that its not necessary for most people with thyroid disease to avoid soy foods because medication dosage can be adjusted accordingly, if necessary. If you eat about the same amount every day, your healthcare provider has probably found the proper dose of thyroid hormone to counteract soys effects. So just be sure to stay consistent with your soy intake.
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Patient Prefers To Split Thyroid Meds
Dear Dr. Roach I had my thyroid removed for a goiter 35 years ago. My doctor put me on 100 mcg of thyroid medication however, when I took it, I got sick. My hands shook, and my heart beat very quickly .
So one doctor told me to split it, and take 50 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon. I felt better, and I took it twice a day for 30 years. After menopause, a different doctor changed it to 88 mcg and said to take it one time a day. This is what I have been taking for five years, but I was feeling better and happier when I split the dose.
My question is, Can I split this medication? Does it make any different for the body if the TSH is normal? Does it make any difference what time of the day I take it? H.T.
Answer Many people do split the dose of thyroid hormone, especially if they are taking a type of thyroid, such as Armour, that contains T3. If 88 mcg is the dose that has the right amount of TSH for you, then the TSH shouldnt be affected by taking half the dose in the morning and half at night. Most people dont find that it matters, but if it relieves your symptoms to take it twice a day, thats OK.
Dear Dr. Roach How much good does it do for the body to just lie there with your eyes closed all night long when you cant sleep? D.R.
Dispel Myths Gain Knowledge
Now that we have gone over some of the most common myths about NDT, and worked to a better understanding of how it can benefit our thyroid, why not take the next step and really learn more about your thyroid today?
Take the Thyroid Quiz , and learn a little bit more about this important part of your body. Are you concerned about the status of your thyroid?
Get on the road to recovery by learning more about what could be wrong today.
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Starting Or Stopping Other Medication Without Talking To Your Doctor
Some medication will affect the way your thyroid hormone is absorbed, including birth control pills, estrogen, testosterone, seizure drugs, and some depression medication, according to the American Thyroid Association . That doesnt mean you cant take these other drugs but if you do, make sure your doctor is aware. It will likely just take some trial and error to find the effective dose of thyroid hormone youll need as a result, Bianco says. Likewise, any time you stop taking these drugs or make any changes, your thyroid hormone dose may need to be adjusted, and you should see your healthcare provider then, too.
Signs Your Thyroid Isnt Optimized
As my residency director always said, thyroid disease is the great masquerader. It can present itself as just about any condition. If your thyroid isnt optimized, you can guarantee its wreaking havoc on your health.
Just like you dont wake up one morning weighing 200 pounds more than you did the night before, you dont develop a thyroid condition overnight. Your thyroid function either improves or declines gradually over time.
We see women every day who are considering, debating, and thinking about their thyroid function. Many have mentioned their concerns to physicians, only to be told their levels are perfectly normal. Yet their symptoms persist!
Any of the following issues may indicate that your thyroid isnt working the way it should:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular periods
My talented partner and Nurse Practitioner, Jen Justus, experienced many of these issues herself, and she knows firsthand how frustrating it can be to feel symptoms that conventional doctors dismiss as insignificant.
My husband would always comment, Dont forget your jacket! even when it was warm in the spring, she shares. And Jens definitely not the only one. If you need to have a zipped-up parka in a 70-degree room, somethings not right.
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Myth #: Its Not Safe If You Have Thyroid Cancer
The folks who believe NDT is not safe for those with thyroid cancer are making a point about TSH.
The main goal, overall, is to keep TSH on the lower side. That is because a higher TSH can stimulate thyroid cancer cells and cause them to grow.
Its not true, though, because NDT can suppress your TSH just fine. While some brands of NDT are better standardized than others, well-standardized brands make it easier to keep the TSH in a tight window to benefit your health.
This includes brands like:
Medical Conditions That Affect Absorption
There are a number of medical conditions that may affect the absorption of thyroid medications, and, hence, the effectiveness of a particular dose. Some of these include:
- Lactose intolerance
- Pancreatic diseases
- Liver disease
Gene differences may also result in decreased effectiveness in some people, such as those who have polymorphisms in iodothyronine deiodinase 2.
For people with health conditions that affect digestion such as inflammatory bowel disease , or celiac disease, the Tirosint brand of levothyroxine with fewer ingredients that may be better tolerated. In addition, the liquid or gel cap form of levothyroxine may be better absorbed than levothyroxine pills.
If you have any of these conditions, it will be important to have your thyroid tested regularly.
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You Fail To Check Your Prescription Carefully When You Receive It From The Pharmacy
When you pick up or receive your thyroid medication, you should:
Check to make sure it’s the correct medication, at the correct dosage.
Count the pills or capsules to make sure you received your full prescription.
Ensure that a generic has not been substituted for your brand-name medication.
Linda had a similar experience, getting a generic instead of the brand-name medication she usually took. In her case, it wasn’t the pharmacy’s fault. “It was the insurance company that made the switch,” says Linda.