Medication Basics

Introduction

Hey, and welcome to the Thyroidcafe. Grab a seat and join me as we discuss the basics of medication. I’m thankful my local pharmacist let me interview her for this blog. She rattled off medication names long enough to dominate a Scrabble board and I grew in my knowledge. She explained each medication, who takes them and the best way to do so. Her information corroborated with the online studies I read. So I combined the information for you; I hope you like it. 

Hormone Basics

As I wrote previously (https://thyroidcafe.com/2019/07/09/diagnosis-story-part-3-getting-the-diagnosis/ ), knowing about your disease empowers you to make better choices for your health. Here is information to help:

  1.  Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) prompts your body to make T4, which in turn produces T3. The prevailing theory on thyroid treatment is that by adding T4, the body will produce T3.  
  1. When doctors take our “Thyroid Levels,” they usually measure Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Here is a table to keep in mind when reading your TSH panel. 
TSH Normal Thyroid Range: 0.4 – 4.0 mU/L TSH At Risk: 2.5 m U/L – 4 mU/L
TSH Ideal Range: 2.5 mU/L 

Who can take thyroid medication 

The medication we are discussing is for people with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. Restrictions on who can take it depends on allergies. (For example, food colouring.) Also, morality as there are animal products in some pills. 

Medications available

There are two broad categories of thyroid medication, synthetic and desiccated. Synthetic medication has many brands (Lavothyroxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint and Unithroid.) All synthetic brands contain solely T4. Desiccated pills are derived from either bovine or swine. Some common brands are Armour Thyroid, Nature-Thyroid, WP Thyroid, NP Thyroid. Because of their source, they contain both T4 and T3. (See below for more information) My pharmacist noted, desiccated pills are almost always on backorder. So talk to your local pharmacist about supply. 

Which medication do I choose?

Most people start with synthetic pills. They are more reliable as T4 levels are lab tested. The pharmacist recommends Synthroid as it comes in small doses increments, giving more accuracy. Desiccated pills, or animal derived pills, contain both T4 and T3. They are controversial because their hormone levels are tested less frequently. However, some studies show that a subgroup of patients improvement in mood and cognitive function on Desiccate pills. Most online articles advocate for Desiccate pills and  I hope to try them. I will report back. To read more studies, click here https://academic.oup.com/labmed/article/41/6/338/2657554. Most studies conclude that if symptoms continue, it is good to try desiccated pills.  

How do I take  medication and missed doses?

Both types of thyroid medication are best taken first thing in the morning; as they must be taken on an empty stomach. Take your medication and then wait a half hour to eat or take other medicine. It is also important to take your pills at a consistent time each day. Missed pill should be taken as soon as possible.  My pharmacist suggested that if over a few hours late, skip that day and resume a normal schedule the next day. Do not double up your pills. 

Conclusion

These are the fundamentals of thyroid medication. It is a broad and deep subject. As we grow in the knowledge of our disease, we empower ourselves to take our health into our own hands. Knowing the medications, opens our options if symptoms reappear. Once we decide, taking our pills as prescribed enables us to benefit fully from them. Now. Can someone please tell me how to wait a half hour for my coffee?

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