A pink pill with “t4 112” imprinted on it is most likely Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone used to treat hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and feeling cold. Levothyroxine is used to replace the natural thyroid hormone and bring hormone levels back to normal.
What is Levothyroxine?
Levothyroxine is the generic name for synthetic thyroxine (T4), an identical replica of the natural thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland. It contains the active ingredient levothyroxine sodium. This active ingredient is metabolized into thyroxine (T4) once absorbed by the body, providing the thyroid effects that the natural hormone would.
Levothyroxine is used to treat hypothyroidism, an endocrine disorder where the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormones T4 and triiodothyronine (T3). Hypothyroidism can be caused by different issues such as:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid
- Thyroid cancer treatment – surgery, radiation therapy can damage thyroid cells
- Congenital hypothyroidism – born with an underactive thyroid
- Iodine deficiency – iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormone
- Pituitary disorder – the pituitary gland produces TSH to stimulate the thyroid
- Pregnancy – the immune system can affect thyroid function
- Medications – lithium, interferon alpha, interleukin-2 can impact thyroid
By replacing the deficient thyroid hormone, levothyroxine can treat the symptoms of hypothyroidism which may include:
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Dry, coarse skin and hair
- Feeling cold when others are not
- Muscle cramps
- Impaired memory
How Levothyroxine Works
Levothyroxine works by providing the active T4 thyroid hormone directly into the bloodstream. Once absorbed, the body converts the T4 into the active T3 hormone that cells need. This brings thyroid hormone levels back into the normal range and relieves hypothyroidism symptoms.
The T4 hormone plays an important role regulating metabolism, growth, and body temperature. The major effects of T4 include:
- Increasing basal metabolic rate – more calories and energy used
- Converting carbohydrates into glucose – provides cells with energy
- Stimulating protein synthesis – builds and repairs body tissues
- Increasing cholesterol breakdown – lowers blood cholesterol levels
- Promoting growth and development – especially important in children
- Increasing heart rate and force of contractions
- Relaxing smooth muscle tissue – improves blood flow and digestion
By replacing the T4 hormone, levothyroxine helps restore these important metabolic processes and eliminates hypothyroidism symptoms.
Available Forms and Strengths
Levothyroxine sodium is available under the brand names Synthroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint, and Unithroid. However, the most common formulation is the generic levothyroxine tablet.
Levothyroxine tablets come in the following strengths:
|Tablet Strength||Amount of Levothyroxine Sodium|
|25 mcg||25 mcg|
|50 mcg||50 mcg|
|75 mcg||75 mcg|
|88 mcg||88 mcg|
|100 mcg||100 mcg|
|112 mcg||112 mcg|
|125 mcg||125 mcg|
|137 mcg||137 mcg|
|150 mcg||150 mcg|
|175 mcg||175 mcg|
|200 mcg||200 mcg|
|300 mcg||300 mcg|
The 112 mcg tablet strength mentioned in the original question is one of the standard tablet strengths available. The dosage is adjusted based on the patient’s specific needs and blood test results.
How to Take Levothyroxine
Levothyroxine should be taken according to the doctor’s instructions. The typical dosage recommendations are:
- Start at a low dose like 25-50 mcg and gradually increase until optimal effect
- Take once daily on an empty stomach 30-60 minutes before food
- Consistency is important – take at the same time each day
- Do not stop taking levothyroxine unless directed by a doctor
It may take several weeks after starting levothyroxine to feel the full effects. Thyroid hormone levels need to be monitored using blood tests to ensure the dosage is appropriate.
It’s important to stick closely to the medication routine as levothyroxine absorption can be affected by:
- Eating within 30-60 minutes of taking the dose
- Taking the pill with coffee, calcium/iron supplements, antacids, cholesterol drugs
- Missing doses or taking them at different times
If doses are missed, do not double up on the next dose. Just take the missed dose as soon as possible and get back on schedule.
Side Effects of Levothyroxine
When taken correctly, levothyroxine is generally well tolerated. However, some possible side effects may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Mood changes
- Hair loss
Rarely, serious side effects like irregular heartbeat, chest pain, seizures, or fever may occur. Seek medical attention if any unusual symptoms develop.
Too much levothyroxine can cause side effects like tremors, trouble sleeping, rapid or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The dosage may need lowering if this occurs.
Levothyroxine can interact with other medications. It is important for doctors and pharmacists to know all drugs and supplements a patient is taking. Some interactions to be aware of include:
- Cholesterol drugs – statins, cholestyramine, colesevelam can impair levothyroxine absorption
- Blood thinners – warfarin effects can be altered
- Antidepressants – tricyclics, sertraline may increase T3/T4 levels
- Antacids – aluminum/calcium in antacids impairs levothyroxine absorption
- Seizure drugs – carbamazepine, phenytoin, fosphenytoin accelerate levothyroxine metabolism
- Corticosteroids – prednisone may alter levothyroxine metabolism
Supplements like calcium, iron and multivitamins should be taken at least 4 hours apart from levothyroxine to prevent interactions.
There are some important precautions to know before taking levothyroxine:
- May not be suitable for people with adrenal gland problems or pituitary disorders
- Use cautiously if you have heart disease, diabetes, or brittle bones
- Inform your doctor if you have any allergies or reactions to thyroid hormones
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
- Let your doctor know about any surgeries you may have scheduled
Regular thyroid function blood tests are needed to monitor treatment and adjust doses. Do not adjust the dosage without consulting your doctor first.
It’s possible to overdose on levothyroxine if too much is taken. Symptoms of an overdose include:
- Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, tremors
- Shortness of breath, nervousness, irritability
- Seizures, diarrhea, fever
- Confusion, disorientation
An overdose can be life-threatening so seek immediate emergency medical help if an overdose is suspected.
In summary, a pink pill imprinted with “t4 112” is most likely levothyroxine sodium 112 mcg, a synthetic thyroid hormone used to treat hypothyroidism. By replacing the body’s natural T4 hormone, it helps restore thyroid hormone levels and relieves symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and feeling cold. Levothyroxine is available in multiple strengths but should only be taken as precisely directed by a doctor. When used properly, it is an effective treatment for hypothyroidism, but be aware of potential side effects and drug interactions.