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Side Effects of Levothyroxine You Should Know

Side Effects of Levothyroxine You Should Know

People who have been taking levothyroxine for years have a higher chance of developing bone problems like osteoporosis. Read this HealthHearty article to know more about the less common side effects of levothyroxine.
Nicks J
Plain and Simple
Avoiding overdose and taking the medication as prescribed by the doctor is the key to keep any related levothyroxine side effects to a minimum.

Levothyroxine is a prescription medicine which is recommended for the treatment of hypothyroidism (inactive thyroid gland), a condition in which the thyroid gland is incapable of producing adequate amount of thyroid hormone. The medication is essentially a synthetic thyroid hormone that is chemically equivalent to the one secreted by the thyroid gland. Hence, regularly taking the medication works in treating the thyroid condition.

However, levothyroxine is not free from side effects, some of which can be quite bothersome and may require dose adjustment to alleviate the symptoms.

Infrequent Side Effects
Cardiovascular Problems
Clinical studies have shown that levothyroxine can cause high blood pressure, angina, abnormal heart rhythm, rapid heartbeat, heart failure, and heart attack. Although these are uncommon side effects, people with a history of cardiovascular problems have higher chances of suffering from cardiovascular problems from taking this medication.

Bone Problems
Long-term use may cause a decline in bone mass and put a person at a greater risk of osteoporosis, a condition that makes the bones brittle. This may increase the risk of fracture in the long run. It is observed that people put on thyroid treatment tend to have higher incidences of femur fractures than those who do not take the medication.

Insomnia
People put on levothyroxine may face difficulty in falling sleep. They may wake up multiple times during the night and have trouble getting sleep again. Patients complain about not getting uninterrupted sleep and wake up earlier than required. All these are signs of insomnia, and suggest that levothyroxine has been prescribed in high doses. In such circumstances, lowering the dose may help restore the natural sleep pattern.

Hair Loss
Hair loss may be yet another issue that one may encounter when being treated with levothyroxine. It tends to cause hormonal changes that may negatively affect hair growth.

Allergic Reaction
Allergy to levothyroxine can make the skin inflamed, itchy, and cause the formation of rash. These allergic reactions are an indication of skin problems like contact dermatitis and hives. An adverse reaction occurs within seconds, causing breathing problems, and is followed by swelling of the tongue, lips, and the face.

Weight Gain
People put on this thyroid medication may experience weight gain. There have been reports of the weight not remaining stable when taking levothyroxine. Even the lowest possible dose can make one struggle with weight issues.

Neurological Problems
During the initial days of treatment, one may experience seizures. However, within a few months, as the body adjusts with the treatment, these bouts may soon go away. Seizures associated with levothyroxine may also indicate prescription overdose.

Gastrointestinal Problems
Taking this thyroid medication can make one feel nauseous, which may lead to episodes of throwing up. One may experience diarrhea (accompanied by stomach cramps) as early as 24 hours after taking levothyroxine

Emotional Disturbances
There have been reports of emotional and behavioral changes in people put on levothyroxine. So, one may experience mood swings, nervousness, and depression when put on this medication.

Other Less Common Side Effects
  • Menstrual cycle problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased appetite
  • Heat intolerance
  • Low urine output

Overdose Symptoms
If any one of the following side effects occur, seek prompt medical attention:
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sudden unsteadiness or lack of coordination

Although levothyroxine, for an under-active thyroid gland, is usually a lifelong treatment, one needs to monitor the impact of the prescription dose with blood testing that checks thyroid levels. Based upon the blood test results, the dose will be adjusted from time to time, so as to ensure that thyroid levels remain in the normal range.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.