"While the therapeutic goal is to make patients feel better, symptoms alone are not utilized for judging adequacy of treatment. In other words, the dose of levothyroxine is adjusted based on the TSH levels and not whether or not the patient feels better." A Changing Paradigm Because the majority of patients with hypothyroidism do well on levothyroxine monotherapy, which is considered a safe medication, the medical community has considered the treatment approach a success.
Hypothyroidism also develops when the thyroid is surgically removed (for example, due to cancer or benign nodules).From that database, the Rush researchers identified 469 adults who were taking levothyroxine monotherapy and compared them to 469 individuals who were not on levothyroxine.Both groups were matched for age, sex, race, and serum TSH levels.A high TSH level in the blood is how physicians diagnose hypothyroidism, and they adjust up the dose of T4 (or the drug levothyroxine) until TSH levels are back in the normal range."That is how patients are generally treated and monitored today for hypothyroidism," Bianco said.