People taking thyroid hormone replacement medication for hypothyroidism need to follow a set routine for taking their medication. Hormone therapy can have a delicate balance; even small variations in the levels created in the body from taking a hormone medication can greatly affect how well a patient feels. The steps below help to insure the best results from thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
Take your thyroid hormone medication on an empty stomach, with plenty of water. Many patients find it easier to take their thyroid medication on an empty stomach by doing so first thing in the morning before having breakfast. Once the medication has been taken, it is recommended that a patient wait at least 30 minutes before eating, to allow the medication time to be absorbed in the digestive tract. Taking the medication with a full glass of water also helps digestion and absorption of the medication.
Take your thyroid hormone medication at the same time each day. When you take your thyroid medication at the same time each day, this helps your hormone levels remain more stable than if you take it at different times each day. Most thyroid medications have a long half-life of several days. However, even very small changes in the rhythm of your dosage can affect the way you feel. According to the manufacturers of thyroid medications, the hormone will peak in the body at a certain time after ingesting it and then remain stable for a period of time and afterward have a slightly lowered effect. A patient will want to see the peak and stable effects during the day and the lowered effect toward the end of the day, as time for rest and sleep arrives after a day of activities.
If you take vitamins or supplements containing iron or calcium, be sure to take them six hours apart from your thyroid medication dose. These two supplements can have a negative effect on thyroid hormone medication, by preventing it from fully absorbing in the body. To prevent malabsorption, it is recommended that you take these supplements at least six hours apart from your thyroid medication each day. Some patients will take their thyroid medication in the morning on an empty stomach and then will take their supplements containing iron and/or calcium after lunch, six hours later, to prevent this problem.
When you have blood retests of your thyroid hormone levels, take your medication at the same time, to correlate with each blood draw. Some patients on the day of a blood draw (to retest their thyroid hormone levels) will skip their thyroid medication dose until after their blood is drawn. Other patients will take their thyroid medication dose before the blood draw but will make sure the blood is drawn at the same time for each retest, to make sure levels are consistent in correlation with it. It really is not that important which method you use, as long as you do so consistently for each blood draw to retest your thyroid hormone levels while being treated for hypothyroidism.
Never adjust your own thyroid medication dose. There can be times when symptoms may manifest themselves despite the fact that you took the thyroid medication. This might make some patients believe that a slight increase in their dose that day would help relieve these symptoms, and consequently they are tempted to take it upon themselves to increase their dose. This is never a good idea, without the consent and supervision of your doctor; even small adjustments in your dose can alter your hormone levels for days at a time. If a patient seems to be experiencing symptoms of low thyroid hormone or those of an overactive thyroid (too much hormone), they should report these to their doctor for instructions on adjusting their medication or in making an office visit for further evaluation of their treatment.