The thyroid medication Synthroid levothyroxine may cause loss of appetite, according to some research. Learn more about what this medication is about below!
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to present medical studies and information in an accessible manner. This post may contain opinions about this particular drug but does not mean that it is recommended for all readers. Always consult a medical professional to see if these solutions may be right for you.
RELATED: Understanding TSH Levels: Important for Your Thyroid Function
In this article:
- What Is Synthroid?
- Synthroid Levothyroxine Effects on Thyroid Patients
- Why Do Patients Commonly Take Synthroid Levothyroxine?
- Including Synthroid Levothyroxine in Your Thyroid Treatment
- What Is the Right Dosage for Levothyroxine?
- Should You Switch to Generic Synthroid?
- Are There Any Warnings for Taking Levothyroxine?
- What Happens When You Take Too Much or Missed Taking Levothyroxine for Loss of Appetite?
- What May Interfere with Your Thyroid Medication?
Levothyroxine and Loss of Appetite: What to Know
What Is Synthroid?
Synthroid is a brand of the generic thyroid drug, levothyroxine.
It is a medication for the treatment of hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid. The thyroid glands are small, but their role is significant.
They produce hormones critical to the body’s several metabolic functions. One of these hormones is T4 or thyroxine.
In their optimal conditions, the thyroid glands produce about 80% of T4 and only 20% of T3 (triiodothyronine). The hormone strength of T3 can be four times that of T4.
Vital organs such as the kidneys and liver will convert T4 into active T3.
The body can then use these for temperature regulation and weight management. These hormones are also necessary for the growth and development of the brain and bones.
The body doesn’t produce these hormones by themselves—it needs the help of the brain. The brain’s hypothalamus creates the thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland.
This gland then secretes the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which manages thyroid hormone production.
When the serum TSH level is high, the pituitary gland stops the production of TSH.
The opposite happens when the numbers are low. It does this to ensure the glands have enough hormones for proper thyroid function.
People with hypothyroidism struggle to increase their T4. The doctors may recommend levothyroxine in its synthetic form, like Synthroid, to stimulate production.
Synthroid Levothyroxine Effects on Thyroid Patients
There’s no single treatment for hypothyroidism. The options can differ based on its mechanism and type of ingredient used.
Here’s an example: Synthroid and Armour are both synthetic versions of thyroxine. The most significant difference is in their makeup.
People consider Armour thyroid medication as more natural. It comes from animal thyroid glands.
The variations also mean the effects may differ.
Synthroid levothyroxine is a popular type of thyroid medication, and there is recent evidence saying those taking it experience weight loss.
Most of the time, weight loss occurs in patients because Synthroid can lead to a loss of appetite throughout the treatment. This effect may be highly beneficial for patients with symptoms of weight gain.
This weight loss effect has been becoming a common experience among Synthroid users, according to Mental Health Daily:
Individuals with hypothyroidism often exhibit symptoms such as cognitive deficits, depression, dry skin, fatigue, malaise, and weight gain. Regular administration of Synthroid (levothyroxine) is thought to reverse the aforementioned symptoms of hypothyroidism and improve the functionality of the user. After several months of properly-dosed Synthroid, users often report clearer thinking, increased energy, mood improvements, and perhaps most noticeably – weight loss.
Weight loss is often among the most discussed Synthroid side effects due to the fact that nearly everyone wants to look good and maintain a healthy physique. Additionally, many individuals had gained a significant amount of weight prior to using Synthroid (as a result of hypothyroidism), a condition which slows metabolism. When metabolic processes are corrected as a result of Synthroid, users end up losing weight and the weight loss comes as a pleasant surprise.
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The most common explanation for the weight loss effect of Synthroid levothyroxine has something to do with how it regulates your metabolism.
This is especially great for patients with low thyroid hormone levels who are also most likely to experience a slow metabolism. When their metabolism is more regular, their bodies may stop experiencing symptoms of weight gain.
Synthroid, on its own, doesn’t necessarily make your body lose weight, but its effects on your system influence your weight. Levothyroxine and weight loss may go hand in hand.
Apart from regularizing your metabolism, there are also reviews of users who experience a loss of appetite when taking this medication. This reduction in appetite significantly helps in managing the patients’ hypothyroid symptoms.
RELATED: 21 Thyroid Symptoms That Tell You Something’s Not Right
Why Do Patients Commonly Take Synthroid Levothyroxine?
Synthroid levothyroxine is a popular thyroid hormone medication. It is one of the most prescribed thyroid drugs in the U.S.
Even though not all patients may experience weight and appetite loss from Synthroid, it may still give other benefits such as stimulated energy levels, cognitive activity, and mood enhancement. Most importantly, Synthroid levothyroxine can balance your thyroid hormone levels.
Earlier, the article talks about the complex relationships among hormones. Now, let’s delve into the reasons why people experience thyroid disease called hypothyroidism:
1. Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer affects more than 50,000 men and women in the U.S. It has an incidence rate of 1.5% from 2011 to 2015.
Unlike other cancers, though, this has a high survival rate at 98% within the next five years.
One of the immediate solutions is the removal of the tumor and even the thyroid gland. The doctor then prescribes levothyroxine tablets to help the body continue producing thyroid hormones.
2. TSH Suppression
People with differentiated thyroid cancers can lose one of their thyroid glands. They may also undergo radioiodine therapy.
Radioiodine Therapy Definition: It is a nuclear medicine treatment that helps shrink or destroy a part or an entire thyroid gland. It is a common treatment for those with thyroid cancer and overactive thyroid.
The treatments, though, don’t stop the production of TSH. There is still the risk of recurrence.
The doctor may prescribe TSH suppression as a thyroid hormone therapy to prevent it. It introduces high doses of thyroxine.
The process may also prevent an underactive thyroid.
3. Acquired Hypothyroidism
Acquired hypothyroidism is also another name for chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. You may know it as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease.
The immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body’s organs, which may include the thyroid. The condition can lead to swelling of the glands and their dysfunction.
Acquired hypothyroidism can start early, such as during the teenage years. The doctor may recommend Synthroid to increase low thyroid hormone production.
4. Iodine Deficiency
The body needs trace minerals such as iodine to function well. It can prevent cognitive development problems among babies during pregnancy and birth.
It is also necessary for the production of thyroid hormones.
When the body’s absorption of iodine is low, there’s not enough for the glands to work with. It may result in much lower hormone creation.
It may even increase the risks of multinodular goiter or the swelling and growth of the glands. This occurs when the glands have to work a lot harder to keep up with the hormone demands of the body.
In the U.S., iodine deficiency is already rare. Table salt manufacturers, for instance, already fortify their products with this mineral.
5. Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes mellitus doesn’t have to lead to thyroid disorders and vice versa. Studies show they may have a correlation.
People with an autoimmune disorder may develop another one. If a person has type 1 diabetes, the risks of having Hashimoto is high.
A sluggish thyroid can slow down metabolism. It can affect the way the body regulates glucose or blood sugar, which includes the development of type 2 diabetes.
Taking Synthroid levothyroxine may not only improve thyroid function. It may also reduce the risks of diabetes by helping to control weight and appetite.
6. Gut Issues
There’s a good reason to incorporate gut-healing foods into your menu. The gastrointestinal tract interacts with the thyroid hormones and may work as a reservoir for T3 hormones.
The gut absorbs the hormones from the bloodstream and helps in their distribution. Thus, gut problems can disrupt the body’s hormone activity.
Including Synthroid Levothyroxine in Your Thyroid Treatment
Hypothyroidism often occurs when there are low levels of T4 in the body, and Synthroid levothyroxine is a synthetically engineered form of T4. Introducing more T4 to balance low levels of thyroid hormones may help increase or regulate your basal metabolic rate.
Basal Metabolic Rate Definition: The number of calories the body needs to function at rest.
Your body may not adjust as quickly from this sudden increase from a slow metabolism. This can lead to visible weight loss during the first weeks of taking Synthroid levothyroxine.
Note, though, the body can adapt to the medication. The benefits mentioned may no longer be optimal at some point.
You need to visit your doctor to adjust your Synthroid dosage.
Some people may experience weight loss. They may also have other issues such as rapid or irregular heartbeat, while others may develop dizziness or headache, and irritability.
These do not immediately mean they are side effects of Synthroid. The root cause may be the hormone levels.
You may already have an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. It can happen when you are taking too much Synthroid.
It’s always best to consult with your doctor on how to take levothyroxine to lose weight as a beneficial effect of the drug and manage your thyroid. Do not self-medicate.
Others may develop sensitivity to the ingredients found in Synthroid. They can consider exploring other options and then opting for more natural options.
What Is the Right Dosage for Levothyroxine?
As mentioned earlier, the best way to take this medication is to consult with your doctor first. To give you a general idea of how to take it, levothyroxine comes in a tablet form consumed orally.
Your doctor’s prescription depends on several variables, including the following:
- Other meds you’re currently taking
- Other health problems you have
- The severity of your condition
Commonly, your doctor will start with a low dose to see how it affects you and then will gradually increase the dose as you go. In many cases, your dose will remain the same for a period unless you start having hormone replacement therapy, develop heart disease, or become pregnant.
Should You Switch to Generic Synthroid?
The term “generic Synthroid” is confusing and even misleading. Synthroid is a brand name, and the generic form is levothyroxine.
There are pros and cons to taking either of the options. Generic can be cheaper than the brand-name drug, and yet the active ingredient is the same.
They may even have similar cardiovascular outcomes.
It’s a matter of potency and the other ingredients present. Others do not react well with dyes and additives.
To be sure, know the ingredients present in the medication, whether it is a generic or brand name.
Are There Any Warnings for Taking Levothyroxine?
Just like any other type of medication, levothyroxine comes with several warnings. First, it’s important to note that taking the thyroid hormone is not a cure for weight gain or obesity, and people with normal thyroid health should not take this medication to lose weight.
This drug may help your underactive thyroid produce more hormones to its normal range, but it does not completely treat the thyroid dysfunction. It may take several weeks before seeing improvements with the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
If taken long-term, the medication can decrease bone mineral density, increasing your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Before taking levothyroxine, tell your physician if you’ve had the following conditions as the medication may trigger or complicate these health issues:
- Blood-clotting problems
- Underactive pituitary or adrenal gland
- Kidney disease
- Heart attack
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
It’s generally safe to take levothyroxine if you are breastfeeding or pregnant as your doctor will most likely adjust the dosage. Hypothyroidism may also lower your production of breast milk, so it’s up to your doctor to administer the medication.
What Happens When You Take Too Much or Missed Taking Levothyroxine?
It’s always best to follow the dosage of what your doctor prescribes and not take too much of it. If you experience an overdose, you may suffer from the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, as mentioned earlier.
Visit your doctor immediately if you experience shock, disorientation, or confusion while taking the medication as these are the common symptoms of an overdose.
On the contrary, missed doses of levothyroxine may not help manage your thyroid properly, so it’s important to take them as prescribed.
If you miss a dose, take the medication as soon as you remember it. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, forget taking the missed dose.
What May Interfere with Your Thyroid Medication?
Aside from the fact that you need to strictly follow your prescription to manage your thyroid health, there are several things you need to avoid that may disrupt the effects of levothyroxine. Here are the culprits that may upset your thyroid medication:
1. Other Prescription Medications or Hormone Supplements
If you’re taking other prescription medications for diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and breast cancer and diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor will make adjustments to your thyroid prescription.
Hormone supplements, like progesterone and estrogen, may also bind to your thyroid hormone and inhibit its absorption.
Take these medications separately. Consume levothyroxine first, and then your other hormone supplements hours apart.
2. Autoimmune Disease-Caused Inflammation
Inflammation can also hinder the effects of your thyroid medication because it disrupts the ability of the thyroid to create hormones. This usually happens when you suffer from Hashimoto’s disease, one of the primary causes of hypothyroidism.
Taking levothyroxine for your thyroid won’t be effective if you have Hashimoto’s disease. Your doctor needs to manage the condition first before taking any further steps.
3. Cream or Milk in Coffee
Calcium in dairy products can disrupt thyroid hormone absorption. So if you love coffee and you’re taking thyroid medication, it’s best to drink it black.
Although taking multivitamins is helpful for your body, there may be limitations if you’re consuming levothyroxine. Minerals like calcium and iron may bind to the thyroid hormone and prevent its absorption.
To avoid this from happening, you can take your thyroid medication in the morning and then take your multivitamins later in the day, with at a four-hour gap. If you’re unsure, consult your doctor.
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Looking for more info about the thyroid gland? Watch this video below for a clear overview!
Some studies did show Synthroid levothyroxine may help with weight loss and manage weight gain as a beneficial effect of the drug. Unexpected weight gain is one of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Thyroid disorders, though, are a lot more complicated. Taking medications may not be the only solution.
Work with your doctor to help you manage your thyroid levels. If Synthroid doesn’t boost your health, be open to other options.
Do you take Synthroid levothyroxine as your thyroid treatment? How is it managing your thyroid symptoms? Share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 24, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.