What is Levothyroxine?
Levothyroxine is a medicine that is used to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). The active ingredient is Levothyroxine sodium. It is a prescription-only medicine and is not available over the counter. It is a commonly prescribed medicine and is the main medicine used in the treatment of an underactive thyroid. It may also replace thyroid hormone for people who have to have their thyroid completely removed or damaged due to thyroid cancer.
How does Levothyroxine work?
In people with an underactive thyroid gland, the thyroid does not produce enough of the hormone thyroxine. This hormone is essential for normal bodily functions like growth and metabolism. Having lower levels of thyroxine can cause symptoms like tiredness (low energy levels), muscle aches, weight gain, and depression.
Levothyroxine is a synthetic version of the hormone thyroxine and it works to replace the thyroxine that your thyroid gland isn’t producing. This helps to improve the symptoms of an underactive thyroid.
How to take Levothyroxine
You should take your Levothyroxine tablets exactly as your doctor has told you to. Your doctor will decide the most appropriate Levothyroxine starting dose for you based on a thyroid function blood test. The blood test tells your doctor what your thyroid hormone levels are. The test looks at serum TSH levels and T4 levels in the blood.
At the beginning of treatment, you may need frequent blood tests until your dose is right for you. When your dose is stable, you’ll usually have a blood test every year to monitor your dose.
You should swallow the tablets whole with water and usually your doctor will tell you to take the tablets before breakfast. It is best to take it on an empty stomach because some food or drinks can reduce the absorption of Levothyroxine.
People who take Levothyroxine usually have to take it for life.
Take as directed before breakfast on an empty stomach
|Type of medicine||
Replaces or supplements the thyroxine your thyroid gland is not producing
28 – 84 tablets
12.5ug – 100ug
Can include headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, feeling restless
Levothyroxine Side Effects
Most side effects that happen can happen because the dose is not quite right. Once you and your doctor have found the dose that suits you, most side effects tend to improve.
The most common side effects are symptoms that are similar to an overactive thyroid. This may happen because the dose you take is too high. These side effects include muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, tremors, weight loss, and feeling restless. If you notice any of these side effects, contact your doctor because your dose may need to be changed.
Some people can have a severe reaction to high levels of thyroxine. If you notice symptoms such as a very high temperature, fast heart rate and confusion, speak to your doctor immediately.
See the patient information leaflet for further information on the side effects.
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