Every year, doctors prescribe thyroid medication to over 100 million people in the U.S.
Any medication comes with need-to-know information that could harm consumers if left in the dark. The same goes for thyroid medication especially since it reaches so many people.
Keep reading to learn about 3 must-know facts about this common medication.
What is Thyroid Medication?
Thyroid medication typically treats 2 thyroid conditions: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism results from an overactive thyroid gland that produces extra hormone (thyroxine).
Hypothyroidism results from the opposite: an underactive thyroid gland that produces too little hormone.
Each condition has its separate treatment plan. Doctors treat hyperthyroidism with 2 common drugs: Tapazole (methimazole) and Propylthiouracil (PTU). These stop the thyroid from making excess hormones (T3 and T4).
Hypothyroidism medication supplies your body with its lacking hormones. Its common drugs include Levothyroxine (T4), Liothyronine (T3), and natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). You may hear thyroid medication names like Synthroid thrown around, too.
Who Needs Thyroid Medication?
Several different risk factors exist for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism mainly affects:
- People with Graves’s disease or those with a genetic predisposition
- People with other autoimmune disorders
Hypothyroidism has a wider reach, affecting:
- Children & adolescents
- People with autoimmune disorders
- People who over-respond to hyperthyroid treatment (or too much thyroid medication)
- People who undergo thyroid surgery
- People who undergo radiation therapy
- People taking certain medications (e.g., lithium)
- People who have a congenital thyroid defect
- People with a pituitary disorder
- Pregnant women
- People with iodine deficiencies
Side Effects and How to Take Thyroid Medication
Some general rules apply to both thyroid medication types. This prevents any complications and/or specific thyroid medication side effects. You want your body to absorb the medication as best as it can.
First, remain consistent.
Take your thyroid medication at the same time every day. Most people choose to take it when they initially wake up or right before bed. This makes it easiest to establish a routine.
Second, take your thyroid medication without food or drink.
You can eat and/or drink a half hour to an hour after taking medication if you do so when you first wake up. Wait 3–4 hours after any food intake if doing so before bed.
Third, inform yourself about how certain dietary supplements affect absorption.
For example, you should wait at least 3 hours before taking calcium, 2 hours for iron, and an hour for biotin after your thyroid medication.
Vitamin C can improve how well your body absorbs the medication.
Finally, kelp and iodine may upset your thyroid.
What Does This All Mean?
In short, you should learn all you can about your specific thyroid condition. Familiarize yourself with how this medication works, plus how it affects you. Everyone has a unique body, so it may take some time to adjust/find the right dosage.
Take any medication as prescribed and consult a trusted medical professional if you have questions/concerns.
Continue reading about thyroid conditions, medications, and more in other related posts for further information.