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Synthroid is the brand name for the drug Synthroid (Levothyroxine). It is a synthetic analog of thyroxine, one of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. The drug is approved by the FDA for treating hypothyroidism.
When a person experiences hypothyroidism, it means they cannot make sufficient thyroid hormones. And these substances are responsible for regulating essential life processes, such as growth, reproduction, digestion of food, healing, and repair of body tissues.
Hypothyroidism is of 3 types depending on the source of the hormone deficiency:
- Tertiary hypothyroidism (when the problem is coming from the hypothalamus)
- Secondary hypothyroidism (due to problems from the pituitary gland)
- Primary hypothyroidism (when the source of thyroxine deficiency is from the thyroid gland)
Synthroid is essentially a thyroid hormone (thyroxine) artificially made available to cushion or correct the effect of hypothyroidism.
The medication comes as round tablets of different colors. The tablets are inscribed with 'Synthroid' or 'flint' and with their corresponding dosage strength.
Uses of Synthroid
The drug is used for the treatment and prevention of certain types of thyroid tumors. As earlier stated, it is useful for the treatment and management of hypothyroidism.
The dose is dependent on several factors such as age of the patient, cardiovascular health status, body weight, physiological states like pregnancy, concomitant drug or food co-administration as well as specificity or severity of the condition being treated. In essence, the dose is individualized and modified for a particular person/condition while also monitoring patients' response to therapy with thyroid function test.
In individuals between 13-60 years of old, 1.6mg/Kg per day is generally recommended for a start. This is referred to as a full replacement dose. It can be adjusted to 6.25 mcg, 12.5 mcg, or 25 mcg every month until the patient appears to have normal thyroid function and the serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels become normal.
In elderly people and those with cardiomyopathies, start with 12.5 to 25 mcg/kg/day. This can be adjusted to further increments of 12.5 mcg every 14 to 28 days till serum TSH levels normalizes and the person becomes clinically Euthyroid.
Secondary and Tertiary Hypothyroidism
In apparently healthy and non-elderly persons, start with 1.6mcg/Kg body weight per day. Use similar dose adjustments as seen in primary hypothyroidism for the elderly and those with underlying cardiomyopathies. You will need to monitor patients response to therapy with the level of free thyroxine in the serum.
Pediatric dosing for acquired or congenital is based on body weight and advancing age after the assessment of risk of cardiac failure or hyperactivity has been done. Below are the recommended doses for children:
Zero to twelve weeks of age- 10-15mcg/Kg body weight per day. A dose of 8-10mcg/kg body weight per day is given to those who are between 12 to 24 weeks old.
The dosage for children who are 6-12 months and 1-5 years are 6-8mcg and 5-6mcg respectively. While the dosage for children who are 6 -12 years is 4-5mcg.
Additionally, there are dosage modifications for individuals with complete or incomplete puberty. A dose of 2-3mcg per kg body weight is recommended in children who are greater than 12 years of age but have incomplete growth and puberty. Finally children who are greater than 12 years and have completed puberty are given 1.6mcg/kg body weight.
Dosage modification in pregnancy is based on whether there was a preexisting hypothyroidism before pregnancy occured or whether there's new onset hypothyroidism after pregnancy.
In the latter, dosing is correlated with the serum TSH and free thyroxine levels as soon as pregnancy is confirmed as well as with reference serum free T4 and TSH levels expected for each trimester. This may increase during pregnancy.
In general, an increase by 12.5 mcg and measurement of serum TSH levels every month is recommended. For new onset hypothyroidism, use 1.6mcg/kg body weight.
Precautions Before Using Synthroid
Tell your doctor if you have any history of
Also, ensure your doctor knows about your pregnancy status. Synthroid is contraindicated in people who are hypersensitive to thyroid hormones or its ingredients. It is also contradicted in people who have uncorrected adrenal insufficiency.
Missed Dose and Overdose
Cases of missed doses are rare, but if you suspect overdose, call the poison control centre in your area and seek emergency medical attention.
Side Effects of Synthroid
Some side effects of the drug are:
- Diarrhea, chest pain, irregular heartbeats
- Hair loss, menstrual cycle changes
- Weight loss
- Muscle pains, weekends and headaches
- Shortness of breath and difficulty sleeping
Interactions of Synthroid With Other Substances
Certain drugs and food substances when taken with synthroid can make it less effective, especially if taken +/- 4 hours before or after taking Synthroid. Some examples are:
- Magnesium or aluminum containing antacids
- Proton pump inhibitors/stomach acid reducers
- Calcium rich food/supplements
- Ferrous sulfate supplements
Synthroid should be kept away from the reach of pets and children. Also, it should be stored away from light and moisture at 15 to 30 degrees Celsius.