Medically reviewed by
Dr. Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA
Levothyroxine is a synthetic T4 hormone (thyroxine) used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition characterized by an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland typically releases thyroxine (T4), a substantially inactive form of the thyroid hormone, which is converted by some organs to its active form, triiodothyronine (T3).
Also secreted by the thyroid gland is triiodothyronine (T3). Levothyroxine is hence prescribed to hypothyroid patients to make up for the inadequacy of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. This medication is only available on prescription.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is not a prescription drug and is among the most commonly used drugs among adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Alcohol is known to have negative interactions with many drugs, causing adverse effects on the consumer.
Some examples of drugs that are not to be taken with alcohol include pain medications, anxiety medications, antibiotics and antidepressants. So, what about levothyroxine?
This article will highlight:
- Whether you can take levothyroxine with alcohol
- The precautions to take with levothyroxine and alcohol
Can I take levothyroxine with alcohol?
Levothyroxine is not to be taken with substances like caffeinated beverages because they negatively affect the absorption of the drug by the body. And so, you may be wondering: what about alcohol?
Perhaps you like to have an alcoholic beverage now and then and are wondering if this could cause problems with the efficacy of your thyroid medication. The simple answer is that you can take alcoholic beverages while taking levothyroxine, as alcohol does not interfere with the workings of levothyroxine.
The slightly more complicated answer is that alcohol might worsen some of your symptoms, so when you notice that, you should either cut back on or discontinue your alcoholic intake. Alcohol is capable of changing the thyroid’s normal functioning by causing direct cellular toxicity on thyroid cells and eventually decreasing thyroid gland volume.
This typically results in reduced levels of T3 and T4 in the body. Excessive alcohol intake while taking this medication worsens the side effects of levothyroxine if you’ve already been experiencing any.
Precautions to take
- Even though strong scientific evidence of negative interactions between levothyroxine and alcohol is yet to emerge, it is recommended that you keep your alcohol consumption low when you’re on this medication.
- Some common side effects of levothyroxine experienced by some hypothyroid patients include headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you’ve been experiencing these side effects, alcohol intake could, for instance, compound the problem of dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. In this case, it is expedient to discontinue your intake of alcohol.
- The ThyForLife app helps you track your symptoms, making it easy to detect when your symptoms are worsening. It is best to consult with your primary doctor or endocrinologist once you notice this negative pattern in your symptoms.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake if you are hypothyroid and on levothyroxine.
- Even though these two drugs are not currently known to interact negatively, alcohol consumption could negatively affect your thyroid and overall health. (You may want to review the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help guide your consumption of alcohol).
- Your intake of alcohol may aggravate your existing hypothyroid symptoms or side effects of levothyroxine.
- If your alcohol intake negatively affects your thyroid or general health, it is best to significantly cut back on or discontinue your alcohol intake altogether.
- Consult with your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
- Download the app to help you track and manage your symptoms.