Hypothyroidism means your body does not make enough thyroid hormone to keep normal levels
of the hormone in your blood. Hypothyroidism is more common as people age. It affects
women more often than men. Be sure to talk with your health care provider to learn more about
the cause of your condition.
Your Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland in the front of your
neck. The cells in a normal healthy thyroid gland send out
hormones, tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4). When your
thyroid gland gets a message from the brain that your body needs
these two hormones, the thyroid gland sends them into the
bloodstream. The blood then carries these hormones throughout
your body. These hormones are needed to control your body’s
metabolism, growth and development, and activity of your
When your body does not make enough thyroid hormone, you may have one or more of these
ξ Emotional changes
ξ Recent weight change
ξ Reduced appetite
ξ Decreased energy level
ξ Intolerance to cold
ξ Dry skin and hair
ξ Coarse or thinning hair
ξ Neck pain or swelling
ξ Hoarseness of voice
ξ Changes in menstrual cycle
ξ Change in sleep habits
ξ Joint or muscle pain
When your thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormone, your health care provider may
give you a thyroid hormone. The pill often given is Synthroid or Levothyroxine Sodium. You
will need to take your medicine each day at about the same time. The medicine needs to be taken
on an empty stomach and at least ½ hour to one hour before breakfast and other medicines each
day. This medicine needs to be taken 4 hours away from multivitamins, iron supplements,
antacids, soy and calcium supplements, as these supplements block the thyroid medicine from
Once you start taking a thyroid pill, you will need to have follow-up blood tests done to make
sure you are taking the correct dose. Your provider will tell you when to return for blood tests.
Once the correct dose is prescribed, the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism should improve.
This will likely occur within a few weeks and resolve in 3-6 months or longer. It is very
important that you keep taking your medicine even when you are feeling better.
Hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition. It must be treated with medicine. Do not stop
taking this medicine unless told to do so by your health care provider.
Your health care provider may need to change the amount of medicine you are taking. Once you
have started your medicine, you will need to watch for changes in how you feel.
Signs of too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
ξ Feeling warm when nobody else does
ξ Weight loss
ξ Unable to sit still
ξ Trouble sleeping
ξ Hair may become fine and silky
Signs of too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) see page 1.
Be sure to contact your health care provider if you are having any of the signs and symptoms of
either too little or too much thyroid hormone or if you have any questions.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5360