Levothyroxine is a synthetic form of the thyroxine hormone produced by the thyroid gland. This hormone is essential in regulating the metabolism in the body and in cases where there is an insufficient supply of thyroxine by the thyroid gland, a replacement therapy in the form of levothyroxine, also known as T4, is recommended. An under active thyroid gland can lead to a medical condition called hypothyroidism, where a person can have symptoms of fatigue and a lack of energy, slow speech, hair loss and weight gain, among others.
There have been queries by patients of hypothyroidism who are on the drug levothyroxine, whether the intake of alcohol would interfere with the drug and its benefits. The general view is that since T4 is identical to the hormone thyroxine, there should be no adverse effects when alcohol is consumed.
The side effects of both levothyroxine and alcohol are somewhat similar. A person, who is intolerant to alcohol in small or large doses, can experience flushing, palpitations and even diarrhea, stomach cramps and headaches, which can also be suffered as side effects of levothyroxine.
A better understanding of alcoholic beverages would make one understand how it can interact with medication. These beverages contain ethanol, which can be used to help fuel a car, but when consumed by the human body is known to have a depressant effect. It can also be addictive. Alcoholic beverages can be broken into three categories, which are beers, wines and spirits. Alcoholism can have long term effects, causing changes in the metabolism of the brain and liver and cause also cause irrevocable damage to these vital organs.
Both alcohol and levothyroxine are broken down in the liver and a combination of both may cause the liver to overwork. This combination may damage the liver in the long run. An alcoholic liver disease can progressively worsen from a fatty liver, to alcoholic hepatitis and then to cirrhosis, which can be fatal. Of course these conditions occur when the liver is subject to abuse by large and regular intake of alcohol and aggravated by the use of prescription drugs.
There is a general belief that alcohol may aggravate the thyroid gland, which produces hormones which are important to many body functions. Since alcohol is a depressant it can suppress the functions of the thyroid and can be specifically harmful to a person suffering from hypothyroidism. It can displace the hormone replacement drugs such as levothyroxine.
The reaction to alcoholic beverages differs from one person to the other. This reaction also depends on the amount consumed, the person’s level of tolerance to alcohol and also the medical condition. This is also true in the case of a person suffering from hypothyroidism. If the person is used to drinking alcoholic beverages he may be able to tolerate a small amount while on a course of Levothyroxine. People have complained of a feeling of dizziness and headache and sometimes even stomach cramps, after consuming alcoholic beverages, while being treated for an under active thyroid.
It is certainly advisable to avoid alcohol while on a course of hormone replacement drug like levothyroxine.