Recent trends in levothyroxine prescriptions

Levothyroxine is a synthetic version of the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland (thyroxine or T4) and is commonly used to treat hypothyroidism. Current years have witnessed a dramatic increase in levothyroxine prescriptions. Hypothyroidism is diagnosed more frequently than ever before, possibly due to increased awareness, the availability of better diagnostic testing protocols, or even as an increase in thyroid dysfunction in the general public. Still, there remains the possibility that levothyroxine is becoming over-prescribed in the medical community.

Hypothyroidism is a nuanced disorder often requiring a multi-faceted treatment plan and close medical supervision. One study reviewed over 50,000 hypothyroidism cases to study trends in various treatment methods. The research has shown the use of levothyroxine has contributed to the improvement of thyroid levels in people suffering from hypothyroidism, including subclinical hypothyroidism. However, many patients end up being over-treated and exposed to potential risk of thyroid hormone excess.

Though levothyroxine is a powerful therapeutic tool, it is important to remember that medications are only effective when used fittingly. Perhaps most importantly, this new research emphasizes the need to choose an educated endocrinologist who will develop personalized treatment plans according to each patient’s specific needs. In addition, integrating alternative therapies and lifestyle interventions may help patients to have more steady thyroid activity. These include taking the right supplements, paying attention to food sensitivities, managing stress, and getting quality sleep.

About the Author:

Dr. Ridha Arem is board certified in endocrinology, and metabolism. He is the author of over 40 peer reviewed articles in the fields of thyroid disease, endocrinology, and metabolism.