Your body has an active endocrine network which mainly includes glands that are essentially without ducts. So, without ducts, these glands directly let their hormones to get into your blood. Thyroid forms part of your endocrine system. Its endocrine-compatriots include adrenal gland, testes, ovaries, pancreas, etc. Thyroid gland is located in the front side of your neck. The hormone this gland makes works as a catalyst to hasten cell-level metabolism. This gland needs to make hormones at the optimal level; a suboptimal or an over-optimal secretion can lead to a few disorders. Medications are available to treat thyroid conditions. Knowledge of side effects triggered by such medications can help manage the discomforts in a proactive manner.
Thyroid gland resembles a butterfly with its wings spreading to both sides of the throat. Though smaller in size, this gland is responsible for your metabolic wellbeing through its hormones – commonly referred as T3 and T4. These two hormones are differentiated by the number of iodides they contain. As the label indicates, T3 has three iodides while T4 has four of it. So, by metabolic wellbeing, what does it truly mean? It means telling the cells in your body how much energy must be used.
An excessive secretion of thyroid hormone means your body uses up energy way too fast. It can lead to staying hungry, losing body weight, erratic pulse rates, rapid heartbeats, etc. This is labelled as a hyperthyroid condition. People living with a hyperthyroid condition may also be in a nervous state of mind. On the other hand, when your body makes lesser amount of thyroid, it is labelled as a hypothyroid condition. Lesser than normal levels of thyroid can make you weak, fat and can also turn your body more sensitive to winters or cold weather conditions.
Treatment plan to manage thyroid conditions includes prescription of drugs. Hyperthyroid conditions are treated by administering anti-thyroid medications which help inhibit your body from making the hormone at an excessive level. One such widely used drug is methimazole. Those who are living with an underactive gland or hypothyroid condition may be advised to take replacement drugs. These drugs help supplement your body with needful amounts of thyroid through man-made means. Of the many types of synthetic thyroid medicines available, levothyroxine is widely prescribed.
Side effects of drugs taken for treating hyperthyroidism
Medications taken for hypothyroidism are different from those consumed for hyperthyroid conditions. Among hyperthyroid meds, drugs like methimazole help control the quantum of thyroid your body produces. Commonly experienced side effects of these drugs include abdominal problems like nausea, vomiting, upset of stomach, etc. Most of these side effects may stop once your system gets used to the active ingredients. In some rare instances, you may notice early symptoms of renal problems; these may show up as altered output of urine, discoloration of urine and pain in lower abdomen.
Rare and uncommon side effects of drugs taken to treat hyperthyroid conditions
In some rare and remote circumstances, a few users have seen a drop in blood cells. This drop in white cells, red cells and platelets may show up during the initial phases of your medication plan. As an extremely remote occurrence, a few allergies may be triggered by the intake of drugs like methimazole; typical allergic reactions are hives, inflammation of throat or tongue, respiratory problems and vertigo or being lightheaded. Your treating doctor must know your prior ailments as well as your family’s medical history. It is hence important to tell your medical team if you have had episodes of blood disorders, hepatic problems such as cirrhosis or hepatitis.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women; intake of drugs to treat hyperthyroidism
Those who are planning to become pregnant or have already become pregnant must stay away from using these drugs. As a general precaution, pregnant women – especially, during the first trimester of their pregnancy – are never prescribed with these meds. Though drugs such as methimazole are administered during the last trimesters of your pregnancy, such meds may be consumed only under the care of a qualified medical practitioner. Women who are breastfeeding must stay very cautious of the use of such drugs. It is because of the likely risks of their ingredients passing through mother’s milk. Side effects experienced by feeding infants remain largely unknown. Hence, it is essential for breastfeeding women to talk to their doctor before starting to take drugs to treat hyperthyroidism.
Likely interactions of hyperthyroid drugs with other meds
Drugs taken to manage hyperthyroid conditions can adversely interact with other drugs. You are hence advised to make a list of all drugs that you are currently consuming. As you compile this list, ensure to include prescription meds, over the counter drugs, herbal or dietary supplements, vitamins, proteins, etc. You need to stay aware of the likely adverse interactions with cardiac drugs such as digoxin as well as blood thinning drugs like warfarin.
Digoxin is classified under a family of drugs known as cardiac glycosides; these are taken to treat irregular heartbeats as well as heart failure. The drug alters the extent of potassium and / or sodium in your cardiac system, especially at the cellular level. Changes made to the quantum of these minerals can help stabilize and render robustness to your cardiac system. Blood thinning meds such as warfarin are drugs consumed to regulate the flow of blood. These drugs help prevent formation of clots inside your blood vessels. You are advised to talk to your treating doctor or pharmacist to know more inputs about the risks of co-administering these two drugs with thyroid medications.
Side effects triggered by drugs taken for hypothyroidism
A hypothyroid condition may show up as difficulties to pass stools, inexplicable increase in bodyweight, turning highly sensitive to a drop in ambient temperatures and excessive levels of weariness. Drugs prescribed to treat inadequate production of thyroid can also be used for treating cancers in the thyroid gland as well as goiter. These meds serve as a replacement for the hormone. The doses prescribed are according to your bodyweight, age, deficiency levels and also based on how well your body responds to the initial doses of hypothyroid meds. It is generally not recommended to stop taking these meds without telling your treating doctor. In most of the cases, you may be advised to take these meds throughout the lifetime.
Side effects and allergies triggered by the intake of hypothyroid meds
The common side effects of thyroid replacement meds include loss of hair, mental shifts and abdominal disorders such as indigestion or diarrhea. A few serious or acute side effects include tremors, painful bones or weakened bones, severe headaches, spells of excessive sweating, respiratory problems such as wheezing, gasping, etc. In some very rare occasions, users of hypothyroid drugs have experienced side effects like epileptic fits, convulsions, pain in chest, erratic heartbeats, inflammation of limbs, etc.
In most people, hypothyroid meds are unlikely to cause any major allergies. However, in rare instances, these meds can trigger a few allergic reactions such as frequent spells of itchiness, acute levels of drowsiness, rashes on skin, breathing difficulties and inflammation of oral parts. The abovementioned reactions and side effects however do not represent a full list of possible side effects. Upon experiencing newer or unlisted side effects, it is highly recommended to talk to your treating doctor as quickly as possible.
Prior ailments and medical conditions
It is essential to let your caregiving team know about your medical track record or clinical history, including conditions such as heart problems, high blood sugar, hypertension, suboptimal functioning of your adrenal glands, etc. Those who are taking drugs to treat diabetes need to stay watchful of signs like excessive sweating, persistent spells of hunger, drowsiness, etc. If you notice one or more of these reactions, it is important to consult with your treating doctor. As a safety measure, the dosages of diabetic drugs are altered or safer substitutes are prescribed.
Overdose of hypothyroid meds – especially, among children – can result in bone conditions or poor development of bones which can have an impact on the height of children. The other typical signs of an overdose include, being in a confused state of mind, dizziness, passing out or fainting. Among pregnant women, these drugs are widely used but only after seeking a prior approval / consent of the treating physician. Similarly, women who are nursing a baby or breastfeeding may need to stay aware of the likely risks of active ingredients passing into mother’s milk. Hence, you many need to take needful clearance from the treating doctor before starting to consume hypothyroid drugs.
Likely interactions of hypothyroid meds with other drugs
Hypothyroid drugs may interact adversely when co-administered with other drugs, such as simethicone which is taken to treat heartburns or acid reflux mainly to obtain relief from gas formation, flatulence or excessive bloating of abdomen; a few types of calcium supplement drugs (especially, meds made of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate) and weight management drugs like orlistat, etc.
You need to remember that the aforesaid side effects or allergies are not a complete list of discomforts. So, if you experience newer discomforts or reactions, it is important to report about them to your treating doctor or the helpline of the food and drug administration (FDA). Those living in Canada need to call Health Canada quickly or contact the nearest poison control unit situated in your province. People in the US can contact 911 immediately; they can also hurry to a poison control center located near their home.
As an added safety measure, you must perform thyroid function as well as liver function tests on a periodic basis. Such tests can help understand the extent of progress made and can enable changes to the medication plan, if needed.
In sum, a hyperthyroid condition is treated by taking anti-thyroid drugs. These drugs help minimise the production of thyroid. The common side effects of hyperthyroid drugs include upset of stomach, vomiting or nausea. On the other hand, people who are living with hypothyroid conditions are prescribed with a medication plan comprising thyroid-replacement meds. Drugs taken for hypothyroid conditions may trigger adverse side effects like loss of hair and indigestion or diarrhea. Hair lost may regrow once your body gets used to the active ingredients of hypothyroid drugs. In a few rare instances, hypothyroid drugs can cause severe side effects such as convulsions, slower or rapid heartbeats, swelling, etc. Upon observing one or more of these adverse reactions, it is highly recommended to talk to your treating physician or call 911 on an urgent basis.