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Life sometimes gets the best of us, and we forget to take our thyroid medication. Whether it is waking up to a sick child or dog, rushing out for an early presentation, or just forgetting to pick up a refill, skipped doses happen. Indeed, we are all human.
Your thyroid medication is essential, and you need to take it every day. However, if you forget to take one dose, it is not a catastrophe. Let's explore what you can expect if you miss a dose of thyroid medication and how you can prevent missing doses in the future.
Thyroid medication needs to be taken at the same time every day to maintain homeostasis within your body.
People who have been taking thyroid medication for several years will likely not see any remarkable changes in their symptoms if they accidentally skip a dose. Thyroid medication has a relatively long half-life, meaning that it takes quite a while for the body to rid itself of the medicine. For instance, levothyroxine, which is synthetic T4, has a half-life of 6-7 days, which means your body will still have T4 circulating in your system for about a week.
Suppose you are just starting your prescription thyroid medication and working with your thyroid doctor to find the correct dosage. In that case, a missed dose is a little more problematic. The titration period is important because it helps you and your doctor discover the right amount for your body. Missing one dose can potentially interfere with your progress and skew your lab results, especially if a lab test is within a few days of the forgotten dose.
Take your medication as soon as you realized you forgot it. However, if you remember close within the time of taking your next dose, it may be best to skip it and resume your usual schedule.
Keep in mind that the same rules apply for taking a missed dose at another time in the day. Therefore, it is important not to take the medication with meals, other medicines, or supplements. Specific components of food and supplements, like calcium, can impact the total absorption of thyroid medication.
For example, maybe you take your thyroid medication first thing every morning but forgot until lunchtime. You will want to space out your meal and your medication. Ideally, you hold off on your lunch until you have taken your thyroid medication and have allowed an hour to pass. Similarly, if you usually take your medication before bed but forgot, try to take it first thing in the morning before eating, and then resume your usual schedule.
If you have missed two or more doses in a row, you need to let your doctor know so they can advise you on the best plan for getting back on track. Never take a double dose to make up for missing a previous dose.
Stick to a schedule that works for you
People generally take their thyroid medication first thing in the morning or right before bedtime. This approach is usually a safe bet because you typically have an empty or near-empty stomach at these times of the day. However, this schedule is not always ideal for shift workers or travelers. Whatever your lifestyle and schedule, pick a time you know will always cue you to take your medication. And, of course, follow the instruction from your thyroid doctor.
Put your medication in a prominent place
Here again, people who take their medication early in the morning or at night often put their medicines on their bedside table with a glass of water. That way, you always see it, and it becomes a habit to take the pill before turning out the light or donning your robe in the morning. In any case, find a place to keep your medication that will remind you every day, like your bedside table or by your toothbrush.
Use a pillbox
Pillboxes are helpful for everyone, even if you only have one medication. Using a pillbox keeps you from that head-scratching moment, asking yourself if you've already taken your pill today or not.
Set a reminder
If you are digitally inclined, you may want to set a daily reminder on your phone. The Paloma Health mobile app allows you to set automated notifications to get reminders and recommendations for how and when to take your thyroid medications.
Put your prescription on autofill
Often, we forget to refill our medication. And when we do remember, it is usually a weekend or at odd hours for our pharmacy. To avoid missing a dose because you forgot to refill your prescription, ask your pharmacist to put it on autofill. Better yet, you can see if your insurance company will do mail-order prescriptions, so you don't have to worry about getting to the pharmacy at set hours.
Stay up-to-date with testing and appointments
Keeping up with your regular doctor's visits can ensure you do not run out of medication and helps you stay on track. Regular thyroid blood tests help you monitor your thyroid levels. Knowing your current levels helps you and your doctor keep you at a therapeutic dose of thyroid medication and keep you on track with your treatment plan.