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February 28, 2018 | Endocrinology • Value-Based Care
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front your neck that produces important hormones. These hormones affect some of your body’s functions like breathing, digestion, heart rate and body temperature. Diseases of the thyroid cause you to produce either too little or too much of these hormones. Two common thyroid diseases are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Treatment for patients with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is pretty straight forward and usually involves oral medication and carefully monitoring your symptoms. In order for treatment to be successful, however, it’s important to follow the plan that you and your doctor have created.
Adherence to your medication plan is vital to not only your health but also your wallet. In fact, it’s estimated that $100 to $300 billion of preventable healthcare costs in the United States is attributed to non-adherence to prescriptions.
Failing to adhere to your medication schedule may result in increased hospitalizations, ER visits or complications. Patients who don’t take their medications as directed also lose the benefit from the medication. Still, nearly 50 percent of people with chronic diseases, like thyroid disease, do not regularly take their medication.
Abruptly stopping your treatment can result in serious health problems. Whether it’s unpleasant side effects, ineffectiveness of the medication or the duration of your medication therapy, it’s important to not stop taking your medications without discussing it with your doctor first. He or she may be able to adjust your dosage or safely switch you to a new medication if you are not happy with it.
If you are prescribed a thyroid medication, keep these things in mind:
Thyroid medications are dosed in micrograms, and small dosage changes can make a big difference. It may take a while to find which dose is right for you. Even if you don’t feel better immediately, it’s important to keep taking your medication regularly so your doctor can get a more accurate idea of how it affects you.
Some medications, including over-the-counter drugs, can interact with your thyroid medication. These interactions may cause varying side effects or fluctuating hormone levels, and they may also reduce the effectiveness of the drug. Talk to your doctor about all the prescription and non-prescription medications you take on a regular basis. Don’t forget to mention things like vitamins, supplements and pain relievers. If your doctor knows all your medications, he or she is better able to help you understand which medications you should avoid.
*Tip: Fill all your medications—even ones from different providers or health systems—at the same pharmacy. The pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions every time you fill your prescriptions.
Some medications require you to take them on an empty stomach, other medications may work better on a full stomach. The best time to take your medication depends on several different factors, and your doctor can help you decide which schedule is right for you. Write down your schedule so you know when you are supposed to take each medication. If you often forget to take your medication, set up reminders on your phone or tape notes to yourself around the house.
If you have questions about your treatment, contact your doctor.
Our Utah County Endocrinologist helps diagnose and treat endocrine system disorders—including complex cases. As trained specialists, our providers know the latest treatments and technologies to treat a variety of disorders.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.