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Dr Russ Blog - What About Synthroid?
What About Synthroid?
Created on 3/19/2010

The classic signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) include fatigue, constipation, weight gain, irritability and dry skin, among others. The disorder is much more common among women than men.

Often the problem is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where the immune system injures the thyroid gland resulting in lower levels of thyroid hormone. Medical experts don't know why this seems to be occurring with greater frequency in our population, but the treatment is often straightforward and focuses mainly on supplying needed thyroid hormone.  

S sent in a question asking the risks and benefits of taking synthroid. 

If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism your doctor will try to find out why the problem exists, and treat the source of the imbalance if at all possible.

Often management requires thyroid hormone replacement. Options include Armour thyroid (sourced from animals), thyrolar (a synthetic mixture of two forms of thyroid hormone), and synthroid. Your doctor will help determine which option is best for you, but I don't typically recommend the use of Armour thyroid. My preference is actually for the synthetic agent synthroid, mainly because it has such a long track record of safe and effective use.

Provided the proper diagnosis has been made and the medication is being dosed appropriately, side effects are not very common. In fact, the most common side effects such as anxiety or palpitations are usually due to having too much of the medication in one's system, and thus a lower synthroid dosage is likely appropriate.

Be sure to ask your doctor and pharmacist about how to take synthroid, as it is usually recommended to take it on an empty stomach. Taking synthroid with high fiber foods or calcium supplements, among others, may lower the amount of absorbed synthroid.

Some people worry about so-called goitrogens, or foods that can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Such foods include plenty of otherwise healthy fare such as soy, broccoli and cauliflower. Provided you are eating these foods in a consistent manner your doctor can help guide you regarding the proper daily dosing of synthroid.

While I often choose natural options over synthetic, synthroid is one synthetic whose use I favor in the setting of hypothyroidism provided the disorder is being appropriately evaluated and treated by your doctor.

I hope this helps, S!
Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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