Levothyroxine is an alternate or replacement of hormone produced by thyroid which is actually a synthetic form. It is also referred to as L-thyroxine or T4.
In human body the production of thyroxine is natural so when this hormone is not produced naturally then Levothyroxine is used as a replacement. In other words Levothyroxine is made artificially but it is quite identical to T4 hormone produced by the body. Our body cannot distinguish between the naturally produced hormone and the artificially made hormone.
T4 hormone is quite significant for the growth of bones, central nervous system as well as for metabolic actions.
There maybe some other purposes of Levothyroxine which are not mentioned here. Discuss your medical condition with your doctor before starting this medication in order to know whether it is safe to take it in your case or not. Take medication as per directed by your doctor.
What is Levothyroxine used for?
Levothyroxine is used for treating the symptoms of thyroid deficiency or hypothyroidism such as dry skin, muscles cramp, decreased sex drive, constipation, feeling cold, weight gain, slow speech and hair loss. In order to boost the thyroid hormone of the body Levothyroxine is a great option. It may not give its results immediately but in several weeks improvement can be noted.
It is also good for treating goiter as it can minimize the level of TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone. Goiter is a medical condition which the thyroid glands become enlarged due to imbalance of the hormone, cancer, surgery or radiation.
Occasionally, with the help of Levothyroxine it is possible to prevent the recurrence of thyroid cancer.
This medication can be prescribed for individuals of all age groups like adults, children as well as infants.
Use of Levothyroxine in combination with anti-depressant is also noted in order to treat depression.
Do not use Levothyroxine to treat obesity or weight gain issues.
Common Levothyroxine side effects
Every medication has a side effect and in some individuals these side effects may either be mild or severe depending on their health condition. Let’s discuss some most common side effects of Levothyroxine which a user may experience. Some users may also feel appetite loss, change in weight, temporary hair loss, insomnia or difficulty in sleeping as well as digestive issues. These common side effects include hives, rashes and other allergic reactions. Its user may also feel, tightening of chest, difficulty in breathing and swelling of the mouth, tongue and lips.
The reason for temporary loss is simply due to sudden change in the level of thyroid hormone. It takes around two to three months to adjust with this medication and so the issue of hair loss goes away.
Irregular heartbeat can also occur as a side effect of using Levothyroxine. These common side effects may occur in small number of users who are on Levothyroxine.
Levothyroxine side effects on children
In case of children too, there are side effects of Levothyroxine.
In case of infants, the overdose can be harmful as it can give rise to Craniosynostosis as well as premature closure of the epiphyses (in the future the height of an adult person would be short).
In some children who received Levothyroxine for treating Hypothyroidism, the cases of slipped capital femoral epiphyses and pseudo tumor cerebri were reported.
If the child cannot take the tablet then crush the tablet and mix it with a teaspoon of water then give this mixture with spoon.
Some common side effects of Levothyroxine among children includes muscle and stomach cramps, weight loss, increase in appetite as well as difficulty in falling asleep.
If your child is suffering from diabetes, liver or kidney issues or heart attack then do discuss this with your doctor before taking this medicine.
Levothyroxine side effects on men
In case of men hypothyroidism may cause infertility. Levothyroxine should not be used for treating infertility if the cause of infertility is other than hypothyroidism.
It is not necessary that all users of this medication may experience serious side effects but in some cases the side effects are quite mild and easy to manage as well. Some side effects subside with time while some may require medical assistance.
Some men on Levothyroxine may experience sleep disorder such as insomnia. Diarrhea, or stomach upset is also common among the users of this medication. Some other side effects that men may face include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, excessive sweating, hair loss as well as fluctuation in mood.
In case of any severe side effects it is best to see the doctor immediately. Take dose as per direction to avoid any further complication of health.
Levothyroxine side effects on women
The prolonged use of Levothyroxine in case of women can give rise to osteoporosis which is a disease in which bone loss takes place. The best idea is to talk with your doctor about this. In case of women, hypothyroidism may result in infertility. Do not use Levothyroxine if the cause of infertility is other than hypothyroidism.
Women who take Levothyroxine may experience side effects such as change in menstrual cycle which may become unusual. Not only the duration of menstrual will change but it may either become lighter or heavier.
In the first month of treatment, the side effect of hair loss may appear which may subside after few weeks.
Stomach upset is another side effect experienced by the user of Levothyroxine. Excessive sweating is another side effect that women may notice while taking Levothyroxine. Some women may also experience mood swings, irritability and may also experience sleeping disorder called insomnia.
Levothyroxine side effects on pregnant women
There is no such evidence that Levothyroxine can harm an unborn baby. Do not discontinue Levothyroxine on your without consulting your doctor if you become pregnant while you are on this medicine. If the level of thyroid hormone decreases during pregnancy then this could be harmful for the baby as well as for mother. So it is important to monitor the thyroid level in pregnant women suffering from hypothyroidism. Remember that in case of pregnant women the dose may vary.
Levothyroxine can pass into breast milk, but there is no negative impact on the nursing baby. If you are nursing a baby then do tell your doctor about it before starting your medication. The requirement of dose for the nursing mothers may vary too. Usually pregnant mothers need a high dose of Levothyroxine. If the dose of Levothyroxine is adequate then there is no possibility of harm to the unborn as well as to the mother.
Levothyroxine side effects on elderly
In case of elderly, it is important to keep their condition in check to see the affect. Although, this medication is safe for all age groups but any patient with multiple health issues must take special care.
Initial dose recommended for patients over 50 years of age and with underlying cardiac disease is different so seniors must consult their doctor before starting this drug. There is a risk on heart attack with the use of this drug so if you are already suffering from heart issues then you must avoid taking this drug.
When it comes to elderly individuals they are more sensitive to side effects of most drugs.
For senior who are suffering from heart diseases, diabetes or any other such disease it is safe to consult a doctor before starting any medicine.
Some side effects may need immediate attention no matter what is the age of the patient.