Right way to take thyroid medication

Thyroid is the name of all synthetic forms of the thyroid hormone T4. This manufactured hormone mimics the natural hormone produced by your thyroid and is prescribed as the primary treatment for hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.

Thyroid dosage is highly individualized, and your dosage may change as you and your doctor work to find what works best for you. See our levothyroxine dosage chart below to get an idea of where your treatment might begin and when to expect your doctor to check for adjustments. Starting dosages are often calculated based on your weight, but because in some cases your thyroid still makes its own T4, some doctors will start you with a lower dosage to avoid over-treatment symptoms that mimic hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). They also may start you on a lower dose if your body might need extra time to adjust to the effects of hormone replacement. Your doctor will then check your thyrid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels over the first few months to see if your dosage needs any adjustment. Hormone replacement therapy is usually a lifelong treatment, so you should get your TSH levels checked every year to ensure you’re still taking the right dose.

Patients who have thyrid problems need to take their prescription properly. Thyrid problems can happen when the thyroid gland is overactive and overproduces hormones.
This condition is hyperthyroidism.
The gland can also produce too little hormone. This condition is known as hypothyroidism.
Medicine may restore thyrid hormone levels in people with thyrid problems, but only if taken right.
Furthermore, taking the right dosage at the right time helps the body absorb and use the drug to maintain healthy hormone levels.
Yet, only about half of all people take their prescription the right way, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This means that half of all people taking medication may be doing it wrong. They end up suffering from poor health because of it.

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Handling Your Prescription

Doing things right starts when you get your thyroid drug. Whether you’re just starting it or picking up a refill, check the label to make sure you’re getting:

The correct medication
The correct dosage
Unexpired drugs
The correct number of pills

Also, check for substitutions. Different brands and generics contain the same drug. But other ingredients vary and may affect absorption.

Store thyroid drugs properly. Don’t expose them to moisture or long periods of heat. It’s best to not keep them in the bathroom.

It’s usually recommended that you take levothyroxine in the morning. If you follow that advice, take it on an empty stomach. Then avoid food and drink, including coffee, for at least an hour.


Some recent research supports taking thyroid medication at bedtime to maximize absorption. If you take combination T3/T4 therapy or desiccated thyroid, it might keep you awake.1

Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out the best time for you to take your thyroid drug. Consider your lifestyle and other medications and supplements you’re on.

There are several different thyroid medications. Knowing the correct name can help ensure that the patient gets the correct meds with every refill.
Knowing the right name can also help when visiting the doctor or refilling other medications. It can also be useful during a trip to the emergency department.
Levothyroxine is a synthetic version of T4. Brand names include Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Unithroid, Tirosint, and Levo-T. Meanwhile, Liothyronine sodium is the synthetic version of T3.
Liotrix contains a mixture of T3 and T4.

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