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What Is Levothyroxine, and What Are the Risks of Abuse?

Table of Contents:

  • What Is Hypothyroidism?
  • Side Effects
  • Physical Effects
  • Abuse
  • Withdrawal & Overdose
  • Dangers of Mixing
  • Professional Help

Levothyroxine is a generic drug typically found as the brand name Synthroid. It is a synthetic hormone prescribed to treat hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormone to maintain a normal body weight, height, and physical energy. The medication can also be found as the brand names Levothroid, Levo-T, Levoxyl, Tirosint, and Unithroid. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this medication officially in 2000, but the prescription has been used in the United States since the 1950s.
This synthetic thyroid hormone treats not just congenital hypothyroidism, but age-related hypothyroidism, which is most common in women over 60 years old. Levothyroxine can also help manage symptoms associated with thyroid cancer or an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter). Levothyroxine replaces thyroid hormone in the body when the thyroid cannot produce enough or when the thyroid has been removed via surgery

What Is Hypothyroidism?

Signs of hypothyroidism or another thyroid problem include:

  • Poor physical growth
  • Slow speech
  • Lack of energy
  • Excessive fatigue or tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Dry, thick skin
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Increased temperature sensitivity, especially to cold
  • Depression

People who have normal thyroid function do not need synthetic hormones to manage thyroid issues, but in some cases, people have abused this drug as a performance-enhancer, a way to lose weight, or as a way to boost physical energy. Abusing this substance for nonmedical or self-medicating reasons can lead to severe, life-threatening side effects.

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