Kevin Huang, BSc Pharm Student
Feeling cold, tired, and fatigued? These are common symptoms to experience when you lack sleep. When you are dealing with these symptoms on a daily basis, however, it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones needed our body to function properly. Hypothyroidism mostly affects women and older individuals, but it can still affect people of other ages/genders. Causes of this condition may include:
- Iodine insufficiency
- Medications (Eg. iodine, lithium)
- Thyroid disease
- Post-partum state
- Surgery on the thyroid gland
The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) are used to regulate the metabolism of our bodies. When these hormones become deficient, our body starts to slow down and experience symptoms. Symptoms can vary among individuals, but the general presentation includes (but is not limited to):
- Cold intolerance
- Weight gain
- Impaired memory
- Mood changes
- Dry, coarse skin
- Brittle hair
So, you have these symptoms, now what?
If you are dealing with these symptoms, it may be a sign for you to check-in with your healthcare professional (HCP). Your HCP will ask you a series of questions, perform several assessments, and may send you for blood work. Based on the results, they may recommend for you to be started on medication therapy.
Levothyroxine (also known as Synthroid) is a thyroid replacement therapy designed to help replenish your depleted hormones. The starting dose of this medication is approximately 1.7 mcg/kg of body weight/day; however, this may vary depending your thyroid levels. This medication is generally well-tolerated. Common side effects of this medication include (but are not limited to):
- Weight loss
As you progress through treatment, your HCP will be monitoring your symptoms, blood work, and the medication dose. After 4-6 weeks, if your symptoms are still present, your HCP may send you for further blood work and change your dose.
Tips & Tricks
Like all medications, there are several things you should know before you start treatment:`
- Let your HCP know if you have diabetes or any heart conditions. This may influence the choice of therapy to manage your condition.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your HCP may need to increase your dose.
- Take this medication on a regular basis to ensure your thyroid hormones stay within the normal levels.
- Take this medication on an empty stomach (30-60 minutes prior to breakfast). Food can affect the absorption of the medication, resulting in you receiving a lower dose.
- If you missed a dose, take it as soon as possible, unless it is close to your next dose.
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