Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Liothyronine

Liothyronine is a synthetic thyroid hormone, and is indicated in the treatment of coma as a result of hypothyroidism.

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Liothyronine (also known as tri-iodothyronine)is the active ingredient of Tertroxin. It is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Diotroxin.

General information

Liothyronine is a synthetic thyroid hormone, and is indicated in the treatment of coma as a result of hypothyroidism or the treatment of persons with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) - a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. The lowered metabolism has symptoms such as weight gain, a slow heart rate, constipation, dry skin, sensitivity to the cold, dry and brittle hair and nails and in some cases fluid accumulation and retention in body tissue.

Liothyronine is more potent and faster acting than levothyroxine and may therefore lead to more side-effects, but is of a shorter duration.

At the start of treatment with liothyronine, your heart may beat more rapidly as your metabolism increases. If you have heart disease, it may cause angina - chest pain due to lack of oxygen to the heart muscle - or even trigger a heart attack. Your doctor may request regular blood tests during the early stages of treatment to measure the levels of levithyroxine in your body.

Liothyronine does not cure hypothyroidism, but keeps it under control. It is generally not used for prolonged periods.

This medication needs to be introduced gradually, and increased slowly, to prevent adverse effects.

How does it work?

Liothyronine works by substituting and increasing the level of thyroid hormone in the human body.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 3

Available as: Tablets

What does it do? Liothyronine increase the level of thyroid hormone in the body

Overdose risk: Medium - high

Dependence risk: Low

Available as a generic ? No

Available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: It may take a few weeks for the full benefit to be achieved.

Dietary advice: This medication should be taken on an empty stomach.

Stopping: Do not discontinue treatment without consulting your prescriber; Symptoms may recur.

Prolonged use: Prolonged used is not desirable - patients should be switched to levothyroxine once the desired effect is obtained with liothyronine. Your doctor may request regular blood tests to measure the levels of thyroxine in your body and your thyroid function.

Special precautions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a heart disease,
  • you have diabetes,
  • you have an overactive thyroid gland,
  • you have high blood pressure, or
  • you are taking any other medication.

Pregnancy: This drug is possibly safe to use. However, consult your doctor.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: This medication is safe use.

Infants and children: A reduced dose is needed and it should be used only on the advice of a paediatrician

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly and dosage adjustment may be needed

Driving and hazardous work: No special precautions need be taken.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Diarrhoea

x

x

Palpitations

x

x

Chest pain

x

x

Flushing

x

x

Sweating

x

x

Muscle cramps

x

x

Weight loss

x

x

Anxiety

x

x

Agitation

x

x

Change in appetite

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

Amiodarone

Thyroid activity may be affected and dose of liothyronine may need to be adjusted

Warfarin

Increased risk of bleeding

Drugs used for treating epilepsy

Reduced effect of liothyronine

Propranolol

Reduced effect of propranolol

Cholestyramine

Reduced effect of liothyronine

Oral antidiabetic drugs

Possible reduced effect of antidiabetic drugs; dose needs adjustment

Phenylbutazone

May affect levothyroxine blood test results

Rifampicin

Reduced effect of liothyronine

Sucralfate

Reduced effect of liothyronine

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a heart disease, diabetes, an overactive thyroid gland or if you have high blood pressure.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include a rapid heartbeat, palpitations, chest pain and shortness of breath.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 10-20 mcg once a day. This may gradually be increased to 60-100 mcg per day in 2-3 divided doses

Children: Dosage should be determined by a paediatrician.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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