WHAT IS THYROID HORMONE TREATMENT?
The goal of thyroid hormone treatment is to replace inadequate amounts of thyroid hormone. The healthy thyroid gland makes thyroid hormone all of the time. It is important, when thyroid hormone replacement is needed, that it is taken every day to keep the hormone levels steady and normal in the body.
The body makes 2 forms of thyroid hormone: levothyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). T3 is the active hormone that the body uses. It converts T4 to the active form, T3. This conversion happens outside of the thyroid gland (e.g. in the liver and brain) and happens normally even in people who have thyroid disease or don’t have a thyroid gland (typically, someone who doesn’t have a thyroid gland will have had surgery to remove the gland. Very rarely, a person will be born without a thyroid gland). In general, when thyroid hormone treatment is needed, just the T4 form is prescribed. This medication comes in pill form and is available in generic form as levothyroxine. There are also many brand names available including Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl, and Unithroid. The FDA has approved one capsule form (Tirosint) and one liquid form (Tirosint-Sol) of levothyroxine. The majority of patients, no matter their age, are still prescribed the pill form.