Levothyroxine is a prescription drug used for the treatment of an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland fails to synthesize enough thyroid hormones required by the body. Levothyroxine basically belongs to the class of drugs called hormones and it provides the thyroid hormone. This drug is also used for treating a few other thyroid disorders such as an enlarged thyroid gland or goitre and thyroid cancer.

Hypothyroidism usually occurs naturally or due to any injury or damage to the thyroid gland by radiation or medications. Sometimes, conditions like thyroid cancer, extremely large goitre, and multi-nodular goitre may necessitate the removal of the gland, which in turn, results in hypothyroidism. A deficiency of thyroid hormone can adversely affect mental and physical wellbeing and can produce a number of symptoms like fatigue, memory loss, depression, hair loss, constipation, and increased cholesterol levels.

Levothyroxine is used to prevent the complications associated with thyroid deficiency. The medicine is available in the form of capsules, tablets, and solution, and it is prescribed for both adults and children in the appropriate dosage. The dosage depends on the age and weight of the patient and response to the treatment, along with the presence or absence of any other medical condition. The medication is usually needed to be taken regularly and also at the same time every day.

In the U.S., it is available under the brand names of Levothroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint, Synthroid, and Unithroid. A patient should always consult his/her physician before changing brands. Levothyroxine should never be taken without consulting a doctor. The medicine is usually not prescribed if the patient has some other underlying diseases and disorders such as thyrotoxicosis and adrenal gland disorders.

Apart from these, if you have a thyroid nodule, heart disease, blood-clotting disorders, diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis, pituitary gland disorders, allergies to any food or drug or had an allergic reaction to Levothyroxine previously, be sure to tell your doctor before taking Levothyroxine.

The dosage of Levothyroxine is required to be monitored carefully during pregnancy. So, women who are planning to become pregnant or who become pregnant while taking the medication need to consult their physicians to make sure that they take the correct dosage. The dosage of Levothyroxine for women who are nursing may also need to be revised. So, breastfeeding women should also talk to their doctors.

Levothyroxine can cause certain side effects and most of these side effects result from an overdose of the drug. Some of the common side effects of this medicine are –

  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Temporary hair loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stomach cramps

If these symptoms or discomforts are mild, they usually go away within a few days or weeks. But, if they last for a long time and also become severe, then inform your physician or health care provider.

Levothyroxine can produce some serious side effects at times such as heart attack (symptoms - shortness of breath, chest pain, and discomforts in the upper parts of the body), rapid heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, and heart failure. If you experience any of these side effects, inform your physician as soon as possible.

Finally, Levothyroxine may interact with certain antidepressant drugs, blood thinners, anti-seizure drugs, sympathomimetic, antacids, diabetes drugs, some cancer drugs, and ketamine. So, if you are taking any of these drugs, do not forget to tell your physician.

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