Being overweight can have a debilitating effect on your self esteem, your energy level and your physical pursuits. Add to that the increased risk of falling victim to various medical conditions, and you have a grim situation. In the quest to lose weight, some people turn to prescription medications, but this has to be done with caution and an eye to the purpose of the medication. Eltroxin is a prescription formula for treating hypothyroidism, and weight loss is one of the side effects associated with its use. This may lead weight-loss enthusiasts with normal thyroid function to erroneously consider this medication a good choice for losing weight.
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What’s in Eltroxin?
Originally manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Eltroxin contains the active ingredient levothyroxin, which is used to treat hypothyroidism. Non-medicinal ingredients in the Eltroxin mix are magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinised maize starch, purified talc and silicon dioxide. It is the levothyroxin that produces the weight loss in hypothyroid patients using this medication.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs when enough thyroid hormone is not being produced by the thyroid gland. Symptoms include stunted growth, slow speech, lack of energy, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin and increased sensitivity to cold. Levothyroxin reverses these symptoms, and the attendant weight loss can make this drug attractive as a weight-loss aid.
Side Effects Associated With Eltroxin
When patients start taking Eltroxin, side effects that may occur will vary according to individuals. Reactions range from diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heart beat, chest pains, sweating and flushing, muscle weakness or cramps to fever, insomnia, restlessness, headache, rapid breathing and weight loss.
Levothyroxin medications work best if taken at the same time each day. It should be taken on an empty stomach; typically, 30 minutes before breakfast is recommended. Take the medication with a full 8-oz glass of water, and try not to miss doses. These instructions are intended for those taking the medication for its intended purpose -- to replace thyroid hormone.
MedlinePlus prominently displays this warning: “Thyroid hormone should not be used to treat obesity in patients with normal thyroid function. Levothyroxine is ineffective for weight reduction in normal thyroid patients and may cause serious or life-threatening toxicity, especially when taken with amphetamines. Talk to your doctor about the potential risks associated with this medication.” Regardless of how attractive the weight loss benefit appears, using Eltroxin for weight-loss purposes is not recommended.