I don't want my child to be on ‘drugs’ for the rest of their life? Are there any alternatives?

The simple answer is no. Levothyroxine is not a drug. It is a hormone replacement that imitates the thyroid hormone that a healthy body produces normally.

Are there any alternative/complementary therapies which would help?

No. Levothyroxine is the only way of treating an under-active thyroid gland. You may hear about or see adverts for alternative remedies. These have not been clinically tested and should be avoided. There are also practitioners who may offer alternative therapies and suggest that your child stops taking levothyroxine. This will make your child ill again. Similarly, you might also hear about alternative ways of testing your child’s thyroid function. The only accurate way of testing your child’s thyroid function is through a blood test. Always talk to your doctor or endocrinologist before giving your child any kind of alternative or complementary therapies.

How will I know if my child is on the right dose?

Your child’s symptoms should disappear once they are on the right dose. Blood tests will also show whether their levels of TSH and thyroid hormones are at the correct level within the blood test reference range.

The doctors say my child is on the right dose of levothyroxine, but they are still unwell

Your child may have another condition or illness. Talk to your doctor about their symptoms and see if there are any other tests that they should have. Sometimes children and young people can still feel unwell even when their TSH and thyroid hormone levels are within the reference range. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about adjusting the levothyroxine dose. As long as the TSH remains in the reference range there may be scope to do so.

My child’s thyroid hormone level is too low on one dose and too high on the next dose up. What can they do?

There are two ways of dealing with this. You can alternate the doses so that your child takes a lower dose one day and a higher dose the next, eg 100mcg one day and 125mcg the following day. Alternatively, you could adjust the dose by cutting the 25mcg tablet in half so that your child is getting a steady level of levothyroxine. Before you do either of these, you should talk to your GP or paediatric endocrinologist.

My child has missed a dose. Is this dangerous?

Although it’s important to make sure your child takes their levothyroxine regularly, missing one dose every now and then will not affect them.

Will I have to pay for my child’s prescriptions?

No. At the moment levothyroxine is currently exempt from prescription charges for everyone who has to take it. Currently children under the age of 16, and young people aged 16, 17 or 18 who are in full-time education automatically get free prescriptions for all their medications in England. Charging for prescriptions has been abolished in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.