Stomach Acid May Affect Thyroid Drug
Doctors May Need to Adjust Thyroid Drug Dose in Patients With Stomach Problems
WebMD News Archive
April 26, 2006 -- Stomach conditions may undercut drugs that treat thyroid
problems, a new study shows.
The study comes from researchers in Italy, including Marco Centanni, MD, of
the endocrinology unit at Rome's La Sapienza University. Their report appears
in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Centanni and colleagues studied 269 patients with harmless goiters, or
enlarged thyroid glands. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of
the neck. Sometimes it becomes swollen and develops bumps but continues to make
a normal amount of hormone. Thyroid hormone affects almost all of the body's
The patients in Centanni's study were taking a drug called thyroxine, which
is the main hormone made by the thyroid. This drug is sometimes used to shrink
thyroids back to a normal size. Thyroid drugs are usually taken for other
reasons, such as treating underactive thyroids. .
Centanni's study shows that patients whose stomach acid secretion was
altered by drugs, inflammation, or infection needed a higher thyroxine dose
than those with normal acid secretion.
About the Study
The participants in the study included 123 patients who also had recurrent
gastritis (an inflammation,
irritation, or erosion of the stomach's lining), or infection with
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) -- which are bacteria linked to
stomach ulcers. For comparison, the
researchers also studied 135 patients with goiters but no stomach problems.
The average thyroxine dose needed by the patients with stomach problems was
22% to 34% higher than the average dose required by the comparison group.
Use of Stomach Acid Drugs
A closer look at 11 patients added more information about the role of drugs
that treat stomach acid problems.
Those patients developed H. pylori infection after the study
started, and they began taking drugs to treat that infection. Those drugs
included omeprazole, which is found in the heartburn drug Prilosec and its
Those patients needed a higher thyroxine dose when they started taking
omeprazole, the study shows.
Low levels of stomach acid may bump up the required thyroxine dose, the
researchers write. Their study also shows that patients generally followed
recommendations to take thyroxine while fasting and wait at least an hour
before eating or drinking to avoid having the drug interact with food.
If you're taking thyroid drugs and you have condition that affects stomach
acid or you are taking medicines that affect stomach acid, consult a doctor
with any questions about your drug doses. Never change drug doses on your