What is levothyroxine sodium, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Levothyroxine is a synthetic (man-made) version of the principle thyroid hormone, thyroxine (T4) that is made and released by the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone increases the metabolic rate of cells of all tissues in the body. In the fetus and newborn, thyroid hormone is important for the growth and development of all tissues including bones and the brain. In adults, thyroid hormone helps to maintain brain function, utilization of food, and body temperature, among other effects.
What brand names are available for levothyroxine sodium?
Is levothyroxine sodium available as a generic drug?
- in the amount of levothyroxine they contain,
- the absorption of the levothyroxine into the body, and
- the distribution of levothyroxine throughout the body.
Do I need a prescription for levothyroxine sodium?
What are the side effects of levothyroxine sodium?
- chest pain,
- increased heart rate or pulse rate,
- excessive sweating,
- heat intolerance,
- weight loss, or
- Women may experience irregular menstrual cycles.
What is the dosage for levothyroxine sodium?
Which drugs or supplements interact with levothyroxine sodium?
Initiation or discontinuation of therapy with levothyroxine in diabetic patients may create a need for an increase or decrease in the required dose of insulin and/or antidiabetic drug, (for example, glyburide[Micronase]).
Levothyroxine may increase the effect of blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin). Therefore, monitoring of blood clotting is necessary, and a decrease in the dose of warfarin may be necessary.
Intravenous administration of epinephrine to patients with coronary artery disease may lead to complications ranging from difficulty in breathing to a heart attack. These complications may occur more frequently among patients also taking levothyroxine. Therefore, careful observation is needed when intravenous epinephrine is given to patients receiving levothyroxine who also have coronary artery disease.
Converting a state of hypothyroidism (under activity) to a normal state (euthyroid state) with levothyroxine may decrease the actions of certain beta-blocking drugs, (for example, metoprolol [Lopressor] or propranolol [Inderal]). It may be necessary, therefore, to change the dose of beta-blocker. For the same reason, the dose of digoxin (Lanoxin), a drug used to manage heart failure or an irregular heart rhythm (for example, atrial fibrillation), also may need to be changed.
Converting hypothyroidism to the euthyroid state with levothyroxine may increase the blood level of theophylline (Slo-Bid), and it may be necessary to change the dose of theophylline.
Taking levothyroxine at the same time as calcium carbonate, ferrous sulfate, cholestyramine (Questran) or colestipol (Colestid) may decrease the effect of levothyroxine and lead to hypothyroidism. This occurs because the levothyroxine binds to these drugs and is not absorbed. Taking the levothyroxine one hour before or four hours after these drugs is necessary to prevent binding.