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Discharge Instructions for Hypothyroidism and Myxedema

Hypothyroidism means your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone to meet your body's needs. Overall, hypothyroidism slows your body’s normal rate of functioning, causing mental and physical sluggishness. Various symptoms may range from mild to severe. The most severe form is called myxedema coma.

Medicine

Take your thyroid hormone medicine exactly as directed. You will take this medicine for the rest of your life.

  • Take your medicine the same time every day.

  • Keep your pills in a container that is labeled with the days of the week. This will help you remember if you’ve taken your medicine each day.

  • Take your medicine with a full glass of water. Take it at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before you eat breakfast. Or at bedtime, at least 3 hours after eating.

  • Do not take calcium or iron within 4 hours of taking your thyroid medicine. And, ask your healthcare provider about taking other medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements with your thyroid pill.

  • Continue to take your medicine if you become pregnant. Many women need more thyroid medicine during pregnancy. Your doctor may increase your dose.

  • Your healthcare provider will regularly check your thyroid hormone levels with blood tests. If your dose is changed, you will usually have lab work in 4 to 6 weeks to be sure that the new dose is right for you.

  • Always alert your healthcare providers of changes in your other medicines (including estrogens, testosterone, and anti-seizure medicines) as these changes may affect your thyroid hormone levels.

  • Never stop treatment on your own. If you do, your symptoms will return.

Other home care

  • During your routine visits, tell your healthcare provider about any signs of hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone), such as:

    • Restlessness

    • Rapid weight loss

    • Sweating

    • Palpitations

  • Eat a high-fiber, low-calorie diet to relieve constipation and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Exercise. Start slow, with a 5 to 15 minute walk each day. The CDC recommends that adults with chronic conditions or disabilities, who are able, should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. This exercise can be done in 10 minute periods throughout the day.

  • Remember, hypothyroidism is associated with increased cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. Correcting hypothyroidism generally improves cholesterol levels. Talk to your healthcare provider about the elements of a healthy lifestyle.

To learn more

The resources below can help you learn more:

  • American Thyroid Association 703-998-8890 www.thyroid.org

  • Hormone Health Network 800-467-6663 www.hormone.org

Follow-up care

Follow-up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical care

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Puffy hands, face, or feet

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Confusion

  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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