Taking thyroid medication may be harder than it seems. Here’s how to take your prescription without experiencing side effects.
In this article:
- Thyroid Anatomy and Physiology
- Thyroid Medication Dilemma
- How to Take Your Thyroid Medication Properly
How to Take Thyroid Medication Without The Risk Of Side Effects
Thyroid Anatomy and Physiology
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. This gland uses iodine absorbed from food to create two hormones. Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) help regulate breathing, heart rate, body weight, and muscle strength. They also regulate menstrual cycles, body temperature, the nervous system, and more. Taking thyroid medication the right way helps the body maintain proper levels of these hormones.
Thyroid Medication Dilemma
Patients who have thyroid problems need to take their prescription properly. Thyroid problems can happen when the thyroid gland is overactive and overproduces hormones. This condition is hyperthyroidism. The gland can also produce too little hormone. This condition is known as hypothyroidism. Medicine may restore thyroid hormone levels in people with thyroid problems, but only if taken right.
Furthermore, taking the right dosage at the right time helps the body absorb and use the drug to maintain healthy hormone levels. Yet, only about half of all people take their prescription the right way, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This means that half of all people taking medication may be doing it wrong. They end up suffering poor health because of it. They could also be experiencing thyroid medication side effects as a result.
So, how should a person with thyroid problems take a doctor’s prescription?
1. Undergo Blood Tests as Directed
Doctors use the results of blood tests to determine if thyroid medication is working. The thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test measures how much of this hormone is in a patient’s blood.
2. Fill Thyroid Medication Prescriptions as Directed
Patients should start thyroid medications as recommended by their doctors. They should continue taking medications as directed. This starts with filling thyroid medication prescriptions regularly to avoid lapses.
3. Check the Prescription Before Leaving the Pharmacy
Look at the label to make sure it is the correct thyroid medication and dosage.
4. Store Medications Properly
Keep medications in a cool, dry place. Do not keep medications in the bathroom. Additionally, do not expose medications to heat for a long time.
5. Do Not Take Thyroid Medication With Food
Food can slow down or stop the absorption of thyroid medication. Food does this in several ways. It can bind with the medication. It can also block the places where the body absorbs the drug or change the pace at which the body absorbs it. Food can even change the acidity of the stomach. In a way, that also affects how the body absorbs medication for the thyroid.
If a person does take thyroid medication with food, he or she should take it at the same time every day. Anyone who switches from taking medicine on an empty stomach to taking it on a full stomach should have a TSH test. That’s because the doctor needs to make sure the thyroid treatment is working.
6. Watch Dietary Fiber Intake
Dietary fiber can prevent the body from absorbing thyroid medications. Certain foods contain dietary fiber. These foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. While dietary fiber can be good for the health, it can also speed up digestion. So much, that the body may not have a chance to absorb the thyroid drug.
Consistency is important when taking medications and consuming dietary fiber. Anyone who wants to change the amount of fiber in his or her diet should undergo a TSH test six to eight weeks after making the change.
7. Pay Attention to Thyroid Medication Recalls
A pharmaceutical company may issue a thyroid medication recall due to quality concerns. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may announce recalls. The FDA recently announced a thyroid medication recall for one medication manufactured by a company in China.
8. Know the Thyroid Medication Names
There are several different thyroid medications. Knowing the correct name can help ensure that the patient gets the correct meds with every refill. Knowing the right name can also help when visiting the doctor or refilling other medications. It can also be useful during a trip to the emergency department.
Levothyroxine is a synthetic version of T4. Brand names include Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Unithroid, Tirosint, and Levo-T. Meanwhile, Liothyronine sodium is the synthetic version of T3. Liotrix contains a mixture of T3 and T4.
9. Avoid Drug Interactions
Certain drugs can interfere with the way medicine for thyroid conditions works. Avoid iodine supplements, antacids, calcium, and iron. Check the labels of cold medicines and decongestants. Make sure they do not interact with thyroid medications. These kinds of medicine may interact with antidepressants, insulin, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and blood thinners.
10. Watch Out for Thyroid Medication Side Effects
Specific side effects depend mainly on the type of thyroid medication used. Patients who have hypoactive thyroids take thyroid replacement drugs. Side effects of thyroid medication can include headaches, nervousness, sleep problems, fever, irritability, hot flashes, and more.
Doctors prescribe anti-thyroid medication to treat hyperthyroidism. Anti-thyroid medications stop the thyroid from producing too much T3 and T4. Side effects of anti-thyroid drugs may include itching, rash, abnormal hair loss, and fever. Less common side effects include nausea, heartburn, swelling, numbness, muscle and joint aches, and headaches.
11. Know the Symptoms of Too Little Thyroid Medication
Knowing the symptoms of too little thyroid medication can help an individual avoid problems. When a person with hypothyroidism takes too little medicine, he or she may experience some side effects. For them, symptoms of too little thyroid medicine may include weight gain, fatigue, and depression. Other side effects may include dry skin, brain fog, cold intolerance, muscle cramps, and constipation.
12. Know Whether the Thyroid Medication is Natural or Man-made
Pharmaceutical companies make some types of thyroid drugs in laboratories. Natural thyroid medication comes from animal thyroid glands. It is also known as desiccated thyroid or porcine thyroid. Some patients experience better results with the synthetic kind. On the other hand, others feel better when taking the natural variety.
Check out these quick tips on how to take your thyroid medication properly from Skinny Recipes:
Seek a qualified health professional to gain further information on how to take thyroid medication properly. Taking thyroid medicine correctly can improve the outcome and offer better results. It can also reduce the risk of side effects.
How does proper medication dosage help ease your hyperthyroid or hypothyroid symptoms? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.