Levothyroxine, also called T4 or thyroid hormone, is a commonly used thyroid medication. Brand names for this drug include Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint and Unithroid. Doctors prescribe levothyroxine for any patient who is hypothyroid, either because his thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone naturally, or because disease or cancer has necessitated surgical removal of the thyroid. This medication is usually required for life. Your doctor will most likely recommend that you take levothyroxine first thing in the morning and that you wait for a specified period of time, usually 30 to 60 minutes, before eating or drinking anything other than water. A person taking levothyroxine should follow the same daily medication regimen to ensure a steady level of thyroid hormone in the body.
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Levothyroxine and Water
Levothyroxine should be swallowed as a single dose and with a full 8-oz. glass of water. Because the pill dissolves quickly, if taken dry it could swell in your throat and cause gagging or choking. Although you should not take this drug with a beverage such as juice or coffee, you can drink as much water as you like after swallowing the pill.
Levothyroxine and Food
Physicians generally direct patients to take levothyroxine immediately upon awakening. Prescription directions recommend that you take this drug on an empty stomach, along with a full glass of water, and that you wait at least 30 to 60 minutes before eating or drinking anything other than water. Taking levothyroxine on an empty stomach increases the absorption of the medication.
Foods or Medications That Can Affect Levothyroxine
Certain foods may cause your body to absorb less of this medication, according to the MayoClinic.com website. These include high-fiber foods: walnuts, cotton seed meal and soybean flour. Speak to your doctor if any of these foods are a regular part of your diet. Some medications or vitamins can also make thyroid medication less effective, including antacids, cholesterol-lowering drugs and calcium and iron supplements. These should be taken either four hours before or after taking levothyroxine.
As a general rule, you should take your thyroid medication at the same time each day, then wait for the recommended amount of time before eating. However, if you forget to take your daily dosage in the morning or at your usual time, you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember, regardless of when or what you have eaten. If it is almost time to take your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take an extra dose unless specifically directed to do so by your doctor.