What Is Liothyronine Used For?

Liothyronine is primarily used for treating an underactive thyroid. It is, however, also approved for the treatment of goiters and can be used to aid in the diagnosis of certain thyroid problems. Healthcare providers may occasionally recommend off-label liothyronine uses as well, such as for treating depression (when used in combination with antidepressants). The medication is approved for use in adults, children, and infants.

What Is Liothyronine Used For?

Liothyronine sodium (Cytomel®) is a prescription medication that is a manufactured version of liothyronine, a thyroid hormone. It is approved to:

Uses of Liothyronine for Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is a common medical problem. It can occur as the result of two very different problems. It can occur due to an inflammation of the thyroid or other problems that cause it to be underactive, or it can be caused by treatments for other thyroid problems, such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Part of the thyroid is often intentionally destroyed, using surgery or other treatments, in order to treat cancer, nodules, or hyperthyroidism. However, it is common to destroy too much of the thyroid, leaving people with a thyroid that is underactive.
Either way, the end result is the same -- the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones, which results in the following hypothyroidism symptoms:
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Skin that is dry, rough, and pale
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • A decreased sex drive
  • Muscle cramps
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss.
As you can see, many of these symptoms can be subtle, and many people blame aging or stress, without realizing they have a thyroid problem. Liothyronine works to boost the body's thyroid hormone levels, which can work wonders for the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
It is important to understand that with liothyronine, more is not necessarily better. Taking too much will cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism, some of which can be quite dangerous. This is why your healthcare provider will carefully monitor you, using blood tests, to make sure you are not taking too much or too little liothyronine.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
Pregnancy and Pain