Hypothyroid: Which medication do you prefer?
Levothyroxine sodium, is a medication prescribed to individuals with hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, essentially is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland (a butterfly shaped organ covering the neck) doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone – in turn, the body’s metabolism slows down.
Some effects of hypothyroidism include:
- Lack of concentration
- Weight gain (and sometimes weight loss for elder individuals due to bone and muscle mass loss)
- Significant changes in bowel movements (usually constipation)
- Hair loss
- Cardiovascular abnormalities (such as, decreased heart rate)
- Abnormalities in the menstrual cycle
The list just simply goes on and on. A unique thing about having a thyroid problem is that every individual’s experience is different. Some people have all the symptoms, while others have very few. It all depends on your body, age, etc. You need to be careful because these symptom
If you have a few of the symptoms above, you should get tested for hypothyroidism, and if you have significant weight loss (without having controlled your diet or exercise) then you may even have hyperthyroidism – which, by the way is even more dangerous! Usually, victims with hyperthyroidism die more often due to tachycardia (where the heart beats dangerously fast) leading to a heart attack.
Getting tested for hypothyroidism is quite simple. You simply should visit your primary doctor or physician, and make them aware of all said symptoms you are having. Usually, if the doctor acknowledges that these symptoms have been long-term, then most likely, they will write you a blood test. Once your blood test results come in from the lab, and they have confirmed that you have hypothyroidism, then it’s time to start considering the different types of thyroid medication available.
Things to keep in mind while taking levothyroxine:
- If you prefer taking it in the morning on an empty stomach, you should NOT eat until 40-60 minutes. If you prefer taking it in the night before bed, make sure that the last meal that you ate was 2.5 hours before you take this medication (or else it will not work!)
- Take it regularly as prescribed to you, try not to miss any days because then it’ll take longer for your thyroid to become normal again.
- Take it at the same time every day (this is really important!)
- Do NOT take more than prescribed if you miss a day or two. Continue to use the same amount you’re supposed to use everyday (or every other day, depending on how it’s prescribed to you). Hyperthyroidism is more dangerous, and you wouldn’t want to cause a more dangerous condition.
In my experience, after my dad was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my physician had a blood test done on me to check if I had it as well since it can be genetic and I had some of the symptoms of it. My symptoms included severe constipation, weight gain, and lack of concentration. The test confirmed that I had hypothyroid (as well as anaemia, and extreme vitamin D deficiency, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.) She prescribed me 88 mcg immediately to take for a week to boost my thyroid, and then from then I had to take 37.5 mcg for a year. About three months ago, when I had another blood test done to check my progress, my hypothyroid got slightly worse, so my dosage became double.
Honestly, taking thyroid medication is such a pain, but inevitable. I would hate waking up during my summer break off of college, and taking the medication and waiting for an hour before I ate. It may be because I love food so much, but when I wake up every morning my brain instantly just thinks of nothing but food. Over the course of a few months, I’ve learned to set a “pill alarm.” My pill alarm rings at 5:00 AM everyday, so that I wake up, and take the medication and sleep for the remainder of time until I have to go to class (usually I have to get up at 6:00 AM). That way, when I wake up, I can just go and eat without worrying about disturbing my medication regularity.
Now, I haven’t tried very many different types of levothyroxine; however, I have tried the two main types that were available to me – Synthroid and Tirosint. Here are the differences between the two:
- Comes in a tablet form, and dissolves quite quickly (so you need to be quick with taking this or you’ll get a horrible aftertaste)
- Available in various colors according to the dosage (50 mcg is white, 75 mcg is violet, 100 mcg is yellow)
- The tablets themselves have markings, so if more than one member of your family is taking this medication, it’s easily distinguishable.
- It is convenient for people who are prescribed half a dose (I was prescribed 37.5 mcg to begin with, so I had to use a pill cutter to cut it in half)
This is the 75 mcg Synthroid tablet which comes in the color violet.
- Comes in a gel capsule form, and is extremely easy to take and absolutely tasteless.
- It is only avaliable in one color, so you can’t tell the difference between pills if others in your family are taking this medication.
- Gel capsules don’t have the same amount of medication on each side even if you were to cut it in half (which I wouldn’t recommend).
This is the 75 mcg Tirosint gel capsule.
I, personally used to take Synthroid because I had to take a lower dosage by cutting a 75 mcg pill in half. However, now that my dosage has increased to 75 mcd per day, I prefer taking Tirosint. My entire family has hypothyroid, but we don’t really get confused because I keep my medication right on my nightstand. And also, I’m only home for summer and winter break off of college, so most of the time there’s no confusion involved in my apartment.
I’m not an expert on thyroidism, you would have to ask your local endocrinologist for more advanced questions, but I’ve been confirmed to have hypothyroidism for a year and a half now, so any questions you may want to ask, feel free!