Symptoms of Hypothyroidism Affect Quality of Life Despite Levothyroxine Therapy

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Investigators assessed the quality of life of patients with hypothyroidism who were treated with levothyroxine and its association to demographics and clinical symptomatology.

The quality of life (QoL) of patients with hypothyroidism is affected by both thyroid-specific and systematic symptoms and is inversely associated with their number of symptoms and comorbidities, according to findings published in Family Practice.  

Patients with hypothyroidism may continue to have symptoms despite treatment with levothyroxine, which have varying effects on QoL. In this study, the researchers assessed the association between hypothyroid-related symptoms, comorbidities, and QoL of Asian patients receiving treatment with levothyroxine. A total of 229 patients completed a thyroid-related QoL questionnaire, of which 27.5% had undergone previous thyroid surgery. Data on their demography, clinical symptoms, morbidity status, QoL scores, and thyroid function tests were analyzed.

Study results showed that patients had a significantly lower QoL if they reported symptoms that included weight gain, dry or coarse skin, leg swelling, feeling weak, and carpal tunnel syndrome. More than half (53.6%) of the patients with any one of these symptoms had a lower QoL, and the proportion of patients reporting low QoL increased if patients had 2 or more symptoms and multiple medical conditions.

“The results are compatible with the findings from other studies, which also reported the lack of relationship between serum [levothyroxine] and [thyroid-stimulating hormone] levels and the QoL score of patients with hypothyroidism,” wrote the investigators.

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Tan NC, Chew RQ, Subramanian RC, Sankari U, Koh YLE, Cho LW. Patients on levothyroxine replacement in the community: association between hypothyroidism symptoms, co-morbidities and their quality of life [published online July 13, 2018]. Fam Pract. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmy064