Levothyroxine is the generic name for such drugs as Euthyrox, Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid and Unithroid. The thyroid gland in your body produces a hormone that regulates the body's energy and metabolism. When the thyroid gland fails to produce enough of this hormone, it is known as hypothyroidism. Levothyroxine is a supplement for that hormone and helps restore the hormone levels so your energy and metabolism will act normally.
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Check the brand of Levothyroxine that you are considering and discuss it with your doctor. Different brands of Levothyroxine will not work the same. If your current prescription is different from your previous ones, discuss it with your pharmacist or doctor before taking the new prescription.
Take Levothyroxine exactly as prescribed. Follow your doctor's instructions when taking Levothyroxine. Don't take any more Levothyroxine than is prescribed or for any longer than your prescription or doctor tells you to.
Take Levothyroxine in the morning before you eat. Wait for 30 minutes before eating anything after taking Levothyroxine. Levothyroxine should be taken at the same time every day.
Take Levothyroxine with a full glass of water, or Levothyroxine may dissolve too quickly and expand in your throat, causing you to choke or gag. Make sure you finish the glass of water when you take Levothyroxine.
Get tested regularly while taking Levothyroxine to ensure the medication is working as it is supposed to. You should have your blood, kidney and liver tested on a regular basis. Don't skip any scheduled appointments.
Tips and warnings
- Store Levothyroxine at room temperature. It is important to keep the medication away from heat and moisture.
- Continue taking Levothyroxine, even if you begin feeling well. If you stop taking Levothyroxine, your symptoms will probably return. Levothyroxine is a supplement. You may need to continue taking Levothyroxine for the rest of your life.
- Levothyroxine is completely safe to take while you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Inform your doctor if you are taking insulin or any diabetes medication by mouth. Your insulin or diabetes medication will probably have to be altered when you begin taking Levothyroxine.
- If you miss a dose of Levothyroxine, you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it is almost time for your next dose. In this case, you should skip the missed dose and continue taking the medication as prescribed. Do not take a double dose of Levothyroxine.
- Side effects from taking Levothyroxine are rare. A less-serious side effect is hair loss, which is uncommon. If you experience hair loss when you first start taking Levothyroxine, understand that it is normal and should stop after your body adjusts to the medication. If hair loss persists, contact your doctor.
- Inform your doctor before taking Levothyroxine if you have a history of heart disease, anemia, coronary artery disease, diabetes, pituitary gland problems, adrenal gland problems or a history of blood clots. Your doctor may not prescribe Levothyroxine or may alter your dosage.
- Levothyroxine may cause bone loss, which could lead to osteoporosis. You will probably have to take Levothyroxine for the rest of your life, so talk to your doctor about the possibility of bone loss.
- Watch for symptoms of an overdose. You need to seek medical attention immediately if you notice the signs of an overdose. Symptoms include chest pain, pounding heartbeat, tremors, shortness of breath, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, leg cramps and seizures.
- Serious side effects from using Levothyroxine are rare. If you notice any serious side effects from Levothyroxine you need to stop taking the medication immediately and seek medical attention. Serious side effects include headache, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, sweating, hot flashes, fever, menstruation changes, appetite changes and weight changes.
- Certain medications, when combined with Levothyroxine, can cause adverse reactions. Inform your doctor before taking Levothyroxine if you have recently taken or are currently taking warfarin, digoxin, estrogen products, diabetes medicines, amiodarone, iodide, lithium, anti-thyroid agents, androgens/anabolic steroids, glucocorticoids, high-dose salicylates, phenobarbital, rifamycins, beta blockers, antidepressants, cytokines, growth hormones, ketamine or theophyllin.
- Certain drugs may change the way your body absorbs Levothyroxine. Do not take Levothyroxine within four hours of taking calcium supplements, iron supplements, antacids, simethicone, cholestyramine, colestipol, sucralfate or sodium polystyrene sulfonate.