Cytomel treats hypothyroidism, a disease causing your thyroid gland to under-secrete thyroid hormone. If it upsets your stomach, try taking this medication with food.

Cytomel Overview

Reviewed: December 18, 2013

Cytomel is a prescription medication used to treat underactive thyroid, known medically as hypothyroidism. It is also used to treat goiters and to test for hyperthyroidism (a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone). 

This medication comes in tablet form to be taken once daily. Cytomel can be taken with or without food.

Common side effects of Cytomel include nausea, diarrhea, and headache.

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  • Other
  • Goiter
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Myxedema
  • Thyroid Neoplasms
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune
  • Thyrotoxicosis

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Cytomel Cautionary Labels


Uses of Cytomel

Cytomel is a prescription medication used as a replacement or supplemental therapy in hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Cytomel is also used to treat a variety of thyroid problems including nodules and goiters, and to test for hyperthyroidism (a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone).

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.


Cytomel Drug Class

Cytomel is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Cytomel

Serious side effects have been reported with Cytomel. See the "Cytomel Precautions" section.

Common side effects of Cytomel include the following:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • palpitations
  • restlessness
  • flushing
  • sweating
  • difficulty sleeping

This is not a complete list of Cytomel side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Cytomel Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • antidepressants
  • vasopressors
  • cholestyramine (Prevalite, Questran)
  • colesevelam (Welchol)
  • colestipol (Colestid)
  • diabetes medications
  • digoxin (Digitek, Lanoxin)
  • estrogens (birth control, hormone replacement therapy)
  • theophylline (Theo-24, Theobid, Theo-Dur, Theolair, Elixophyllin, Elixophylline, Quibron-T, Uniphyl)
  • warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)

This is not a complete list of Cytomel drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.


Cytomel Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with Cytomel including the following:

  • Cytomel can affect your blood sugar. Check your blood sugar more frequently, especially when starting or stopping Cytomel, or when your dose is changed, as this medication may affect the levels of sugar in your blood.
  • Cytomel and other thyroid hormones should not be used for weight loss in patients with normal thyroid function. Cytomel is ineffective for weight reduction in normal thyroid patients and may cause serious or life-threatening toxicity, especially when taken with amphetamines. Talk to your doctor about the potential risks associated with this medication.
  • Cytomel can worsen heart problems. If you experience either of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
    • chest pain (angina)
    • rapid or irregular heartbeat or pulse

Do not take Cytomel if you:

  • are allergic to any ingredient in the medication
  • have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • have a low TSH
  • have untreated adrenal insufficiency
  • have had a heart attack

Cytomel Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Cytomel there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

Before taking Cytomel, tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to Cytomel or any foods or medicines
  • are pregnant or intend to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding
  • have heart or kidney disease
  • have adrenal or pituitary gland problems

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Cytomel and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

Cytomel falls into category A. When pregnant women used Cytomel, their babies did not show any problems related to this medication. This medication is considered safe for use during pregnancy. In fact, hypothyroidism must be treated during pregnancy as hypothyroidism can cause miscarriage. Your doctor may need to increase your Cytomel dose during your pregnancy.


Cytomel and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Small amounts of Cytomel are excreted in human breast milk, just as natural thyroid hormone passes through breast milk. However, women who don't have enough thyroid hormone may not be capable of lactation (secretion or formation of milk).

Cytomel Usage

Take Cytomel exactly as prescribed.

  • Cytomel comes in tablet form and is taken once daily, with or without food.
  • Take this medication with water.
  • If it upsets your stomach, try taking Cytomel with food. 
  • If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of Cytomel at the same time.

Cytomel Dosage

Take Cytomel exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The Cytomel dose your doctor recommends will be based on the following: 

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication

Depending on the medical condition being treated, the recommended starting dose is 5 to 25 mcg daily. The daily dosage may be increased gradually.

The usual maintenance dose is 25 to 100 mcg daily.

Cytomel Overdose

If you take too much this medication, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If this medication is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

  • Store Cytomel oral at room temperature.
  • Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children.

Cytomel FDA Warning

Drugs with thyroid hormone activity, alone or together with other therapeutic agents, have been used for the treatment of obesity. In euthyroid patients, doses within the range of daily hormonal requirements are ineffective for weight reduction. Larger doses may produce serious or even life-threatening manifestations of toxicity, particularly when given in association with sympathomimetic amines such as those used for their anorectic effects.