Hypothyroidism Treatment

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient levels of hormones. An under active thyroid can be a very serious condition, but it is treatable. People who have hypothyroidism are usually treated with a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormones, taken in the form of a tablet. This thyroid hormone treatment replaces the natural hormones that the under active thyroid is not producing in sufficient quantities.

The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic version of the thyroid hormone T4. If this treatment is not effective, then a combination of the synthetic forms of two thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, may be given. In some patients, an animal derived desiccated thyroid extract may be used instead of a synthetic thyroid hormone treatment. This animal derived treatment contains both hormones, T3 and T4.

In order to determine the correct dosage, a patient who begins treatment for hypothyroidism must undergo regular blood tests in order to check the levels of thyroid hormones. If the dosage is correct then the thyroid hormones will be present at normal levels in the blood. It is usual to begin treatment at a low dose, and then to gradually increase it until the levels of the thyroid hormones become normal. This ensures that the lowest possible dosage that can alleviate the symptoms is taken. If the person who has hypothyroidism has heart disease or is an older person, then the initial dosage will be even lower than normal.

If a person who has hypothyroidism is being treated with a dosage that is too high, then they may begin to experience some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid. These include heart palpitations, shakiness, restlessness, sweating and weight loss.

Blood tests will initially be required every two to three months, while the correct dosage is still being determined. Once the right dosage has been found, tests will still need to be performed on an annual basis in order to check that the dosage that is being given is still working. Additional testing to check the dosage will be required if the brand of medication that is being taken is changed, or if the person who has hypothyroidism becomes pregnant.

Treatment for hypothyroidism is usually lifelong. It is important to continue taking the medication even when the symptoms have gone, in order to prevent them from returning. In some cases, the condition and therefore the treatment may be temporary, but this is very rare. Transient viral thyroiditis or an iodine deficiency can result in a temporarily under active thyroid gland.


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