Thyroid disease is extremely common in the United States. It affects approximately 20 million Americans, most of whom are women.

We don’t yet know what causes thyroid disease, and there isn’t a cure for it. Luckily, though, the condition can be managed effectively with medication.

In order for this medication to work, patients must take it as instructed. Thyroid meds are infamous for reacting to food and other medications. Understanding these reactions is key to managing thyroid disease.

In this article, we’ll go over the top three mistakes patients make when taking their medication. Once you have the facts, you’ll be able to make sure your meds are working for you. Let’s go!

Thyroid Disease and Treatment: A Short Overview

There are two types of thyroid disease: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. With the first one, the thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone, and with the second, too little.

Hypothyroidism is more common and causes the following symptoms:

  • Tiredness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Prone to coldness
  • Drier skin
  • Constipation

The purpose of treatment is to restore normal hormone levels and help you feel energized again. Doctors generally prescribe a form of levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Unithroid, Tirosint). In the next three sections, let’s look at how to make sure this drug is being absorbed and doing its job!

1. Don’t Take Levothyroxine With Food

You cannot take levothyroxine with food, or your body won’t absorb it properly. In fact, the absorption rate is about 16% less than if taken when fasting.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to take your thyroid pills first thing in the morning. You could even set your alarm early, take your medication, and go back to sleep!

No matter what, though, wait forty-five to sixty minutes before eating. Unfortunately, this goes for coffee too.

If you absolutely cannot take your thyroid meds in the morning, make sure you don’t eat for four hours before you do so.

2. Be Careful About Supplements and Other Medications

Other drugs or supplements can also affect levothyroxine, making it less effective. Antacids like Tums, iron and calcium supplements, as well as cholesterol drugs, can all impair absorption. As with food, you need to wait at least four hours after thyroid treatment before taking them.

Most other medications can be taken about forty-five minutes to an hour later. Some medications to watch out for are:

  • Birth control pills
  • Estrogen
  • Testosterone
  • Seizure drugs
  • Some depression medications

It is important your healthcare provider knows all the drugs and supplements you are taking. You should also refill your prescription each time at the same pharmacy. That way, the pharmacist can check for drug interactions.

3. Take the Same Brand of Thyroid Medication

The US Food and Drug Administration is supposed to make sure all levothyroxine preparations work the same. This applies to both brand-name and generic versions.

Some patients find their symptoms returning, though, when they switch drugs. Maybe they changed one brand name for another or switched from a brand-name to a generic version. Doctors agree very small differences in levothyroxine preparation can affect hormone levels adversely.

Don’t make any switches in your medication without checking first with your doctor. You may even want to have them write a “dispense as written/no substitution” prescription. That way, you know you always get the same drug.

Wrapping Up: Mistakes with Thyroid Meds

There you have it! The top three mistakes people make with their thyroid meds. Avoiding these pitfalls helps improve absorption and keeps away the sluggishness and fatigue of hypothyroidism.

We would love to help you get the best price for your thyroid medication. Our site has tools that allow you to compare online pharmacies and drug prices too. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much money they will help you save!