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Hypothyroid Treatment

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What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that occurs when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is located in lower front portions of your neck. The thyroid hormones can affect every organ including heart, brain and skin tissues. The main purpose of the thyroid gland is to maintain the metabolism, growth and development of the body.

It regulates the body functions by releasing the thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. Also, metabolism affects your body temperature and even changes your heart beat. Needless to say, the thyroid glands are essential for the human body. The treatment of thyroid disorder aims to reconstruct the thyroid mechanism so that the hormones are released once again. There are many types of treatment available to control the disorder.

Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism

In hypothyroidism, the thyroid glands are not able to produce enough hormones thus it does not function in the proper way. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism occurs when there is too much production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). In hyperthyroidism, there is a fast heartbeat, anxiety, weight loss, etc

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

In the early stages of hypothyroidism, there may not be noticeable symptoms but overtime many health problems like joint pain, infertility, obesity, and heart diseases are caused due to this.

The signs and symptoms are different among people depending upon the hormonal deficiency. The problem is not detected immediately but it develops slowly over the years. At first, the symptoms are slowly detected such as fatigue, weight gain. But as the time passes and the metabolism of the body continues to slow down, more problems occur in the body.

Hypothyroidism symptoms include:

 

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Muscles Weakness
  • The rise in blood and cholesterol level
  • Depression
  • Thinning of hair
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Impaired memory

What causes hypothyroidism?

The main cause of hypothyroid is when enough hormones are not produced by the thyroid gland and there is a chemical imbalance in the body. There can be enormous causes including hyperthyroidism treatments, thyroid surgery, autoimmune disease, radiation therapy and certain medications.

Hypothyroidism can be caused by factors like:

Autoimmune Disease:

It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This autoimmune disorder tends to occur when there is a production of antibiotics that attacks the tissues of the body. However, with the use of these antibiotics, the ability of the thyroid to produce hormones is affected.

Over-response to hypothyroidism:

When there is too much production of thyroid hormone, then the treatment is often done with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications. This treatment is done to bring back the proper function of thyroid back to normal. But sometimes it can go totally opposite and ends up the production of hormone too much which results in permanent hypothyroidism.

Thyroid surgery:

Removal of the thyroid gland or a larger portion of it can stop or diminish the production of hormones. But in that case, the intake of thyroid hormones has to be done for life.

Radiation Therapy:

This therapy is used for the cancer treatments, which can affect your thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism Medications:

There are many medications that also tend to the growth of hypothyroidism. Medication used to treat certain psychiatric disorders like lithium can be another cause.

How to diagnose hypothyroidism?

Generally, it can be diagnosed when a person is feeling very tired, dry skin, constipation, and weight gain. Sometimes, if a person is also had thyroid or goitre earlier then it can be diagnosed.

Blood Test: A blood test is the most important factor in the diagnosis. The levels of TSH and sometimes the level of thyroid hormone thyroxine is tested. It is because there is more production of TSH by your pituitary gland which has to make more efforts to stimulate your thyroid gland so that it can produce more thyroid hormone.

If you have a high TSH level and a low level of thyroxine in your body then it indicates an underactive thyroid. The TSH level tests are very important in managing hypothyroidism. Because TSH level is the best screening tests that are checked by the doctors initially and after that thyroid hormone tests are done if needed. With the help of these tests, doctors can determine the correct dosage of medication.

How to treat hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is commonly treated by medications and pills to re-inculcate the hormone levels. You also must have regular health checkups with your doctor to know your thyroid levels. Thyroid disorders, if untreated can lead to heart problems, joint pain, and obesity. In some cases, it can even lead to infertility. In pregnant women, it can affect the fetus. The symptoms should never be ignored, and you have to consult your physician immediately when you notice them. The treatment would also focus on giving you essential iodine levels to your body.

Too little iodine in the diet can also sometimes lead to the Hypothyroidism condition. The basic and foremost treatment involves the daily medication of synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid, others). This is an oral medication and is used to restore hormone levels and reverses the signs and symptoms. The treatment would start to take effect within weeks and you can notice visible changes within his period. It is an ongoing condition and treatment– meaning that you have to check frequently with your doctor for your thyroid levels. Accordingly, you doctor can reduce the dose or increase the dosages of the thyroid medications.

Who would need a thyroid treatment?

Any individual who is affected by the hypothyroidism can qualify for the treatment. The treatment can work best when diagnosed in the initial stages. Hence, if you feel you have the symptoms make sure you have a checkup with your doctor for the thyroid disorders. Before undertaking the pills ensure that your doctor knows about your physical condition and your allergic levels. If you are under medications for certain other conditions, do let your know doctor know about it.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

The treatment can be eligible and undergone by any individual. Before you take the treatment, however, do let your doctor know about the medicines, you are undertaking currently. The thyroid medications can cause some reaction to the pills you are taking.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The important part of the treatment depends on the post treatment guidelines. You might be asked to intake certain foods especially your salt intake to increase your iodine levels. You might be asked to avoid certain foods, and you must make some lifestyle changes. Also, you must check your thyroid levels periodically with your doctor. In the case of surgery, you have to take rest for a few weeks before you get back to your regular duties.

How long does it take to recover from hypothyroidism treatment?

The recovery depends on how well your body responds to the treatment. Since your thyroid levels can increase gradually, it takes some time before you are fully recovered. The dosages of the pills and the medications have to be increased or decreased as per your thyroid needs. Do consult with your doctor regularly and have periodic checkups. As for surgery, most of the treatments are done using precision laser and your recovery period can also be very minimal.

How to cure thyroid permanently?

There is no permanent cure and you might have a chance that the problems can occur again.The treatment depends on increasing your thyroid levels and based on your lifestyle and medical conditions they can reappear again. Check with your doctor periodically for the ways in which you can avoid such situations. Do follow the hypothyroidism diet plan laid down and never miss the medications that have to be followed.

What is the best diet for hypothyroidism?

A person gets hypothyroidism when the two thyroid hormones that are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), the level is very low. Although only food is not a matter to help change the levels, it can surely help improving the absorption level of the body to absorb these hormones. Changing your diet can always help to do that.

Foods to eat with hypothyroidism are:

  • Food rich in nutrients: They helps to improve your health and even benefits your thyroid gland.
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables: Tomatoes, bell peppers, blueberries and food which are rich in antioxidants should be eaten. It can improve the health of a person and gives benefit to the thyroid gland.
  • Selenium: Selenium-rich food is helpful for the enzymes that make the working of thyroid hormones properly. Sunflower seeds or Brazil nuts which are rich in selenium are beneficial.
  • Tyrosine: T3 and T4 are produced with the help of amino acids by the thyroid gland. Meats, dairy, and legumes are a good source of tyrosine. Supplements can also be taken by consulting your doctor.

Foods to avoid with hypothyroidism are:

A diet that should be avoided in hypothyroidism are Soy, iodine-rich food, iron and calcium supplements high-fiber food and certain vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, sprouts as that contain medication of thyroid absorption.

What are the natural remedies for hypothyroidism?

Natural remedies and alternative medicines are used to remove the root cause of thyroid. Most of the times it is caused due to bad eating habits, stress or missing food.

    Sugar-free diet: By eating a sugar-free diet the inflammation is increased in the body and it reduces the level of conversion of T4 to triiodothyronine, or T3. Thus, worsening the symptoms of thyroid. Eliminating sugar from your diet may regulate the level of your energy. Adapting to a sugar-free diet may help benefits your thyroid health.
    Vitamin B: Taking food rich in vitamin B makes an impact on your thyroid level. Body’s vitamin B-12 levels are affected due to the low thyroid hormones. Food like Peas, asparagus, sesame seeds, tuna, cheese, milk, eggs, can be eaten.
    Probiotics: In the probiotic food, there are live bacteria because it contains live bacteria which helps to keep your stomach and intestine healthy. Besides fermented food and drinks such as kombucha, kefir, raw cheese, also contain useful probiotics.

What are the complications of hypothyroidism?

If hypothyroidism is not treated properly then it can increase the risk of complications in life. Complications like:

 

  • Hypothyroidism in children: Newborn babies can get it from their mothers. If a pregnant woman is thyroid positive and she gives birth to a baby then the baby may have some development issues of the brain or any physical part. But all these problems are detected shortly after birth and newborn baby can be cured.
  • Goiter: If the level of the thyroid is high and it requires effort to produce an adequate amount of hormones then there is a risk of goiter. If there is an excessive amount of hormone secretion then the thyroid gland enlarges to become goiter forming a bulge in your neck.
  • Heart Problems: It is even risk to the heart. If the thyroid is underactive then it may increase the risk of heart disease as the risk of bad cholesterol increases. Due to hypothyroidism, their heart is not able to pump blood properly as there is a buildup of fluid around the heart.

What are hypothyroidism risk factors involved?

Risk factors including hypothyroidism:

 

  • If your family has a history of thyroid or any autoimmune disease.
  • If you are having type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or any other autoimmune disorder.
  • If your upper chest or neck has been exposed to radiation.
  • You have gone through thyroid surgery earlier.
  • If you have taken anti-thyroid medication before this may increase the risk of hypothyroidism.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The alternative treatment is to find different ways to deal with hypothyroidism. There are various procedures like thyroid treatment in homoeopathy, thyroid treatment in ayurveda which also play a crucial role in curing the issue. You can make changes to your diet and get it from the foods that you eat. Increase the intake of iodized salt after consulting with your doctor. Also, you can opt for foods that are rich in Omega 3 Fatty acids that are beneficial to such problems. Have a consultation with a dietician and make sure that you follow and adhere to the diet chart.

Hypothyroidism- Medline Plus, Health Topics, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 03 August 2019]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/hypothyroidism.html Hypothyroidism- Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 03 August 2019]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000353.htm Hypothyroidism (Underactive)- American Thyroid Association [Internet]. thyroid.org 2019 [Cited 03 August 2019]. Available from: https://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/

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Dr. Rabeya Afroz Shoma

MBBS, FCPS, Dhaka Medical

32 Years of Experience

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