The thyroid is without a doubt, a vital organ on the human body. Found in the neck and underneath the Adam’s apple, this endocrine gland is responsible for a wide array of important functions. These functions include regulating the body’s metabolism, controlling protein production, balancing energy consumption, developing the brain, as well as ensuring healthy sensitivity with other hormones. Common disorders associated with the thyroid are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is defined by the thyroid being unable to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite, characterized by the thyroid’s over production of thyroid hormones. For the later, treatment options are much simpler. In the former, there are various factors that influence treating hypothyroidism. And for this reason alone, this article’s main focus will be on hypothyroidism treatment.
Overview of Hyperthyroidism Treatment
As stated before, treating hyperthyroidism, in contrast to hypothyroidism, is much simpler. A doctor will prescribe one of the following:
- Radioactive iodine: one of the most common of treatments for hyperthyroidism. This substance destroys parts of the thyroid gland while not harming any other areas of the body. This process will cut down on thyroid hormone production. This is effective enough that in most cases, only one dose is needed.
- Anti-thyroid medicine: This is best used when the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are mild. Taken in a pill form, this treatment does not damage the thyroid. If this option fails, then the radioactive iodine is usually the next step taken
In post-treatment, it is important to have blood tests to ensure that hyperthyroidism has been eliminated. It is also equally important to make sure there is still a reasonable amount of hormones still left. If this wre to occur, hypothyroidism could be inadvertently created.
When attempting a hypothyroidism treatment process, there are many components and factors that determine the most effective outcome. In its onset, hypothyroidism’s effects would be mild at best. In this case, medical treatment is not immediately required. Instead, close observation of how the symptoms develop overtime is needed.
When the condition does become more severe, thyroid hormone pills are then prescribed by a trained doctor. These function as hormone supplements for the thyroid as it is unable to produce the required amount. While this is a very effective form of hypothyroidism treatment, it is a long term commitment. Often times, this treatment must be taken on a daily basis for a life time.
Also important is following a doctor’s instructions with medication. The doctor will provide the exact measurements of the dosage as each patient is different. Too much will make the thyroid over active, too little will yield no real results. Dosage is based upon many factors which include:
- severity of hypothyroidism
- other health problems
- other medicines that may interact with synthetic thyroid hormones
In some cases, synthetic hormones are used as medication to replace any lost thyroid hormones. This variant of hypothyroidism treatment includes the use of synthetic substances such as:
- Levothyroxine (Synthetic Thyroxine/T4)
- Liothyronine (Synthetic Triiodothyronine/T3)
- Liotrix (Synthetic Thyroxine/Triiodothyronine T4/T3 Combination)
- Desiccated Natural Thyroid
If there is too little, a severe form of hypothyroidism may form, known as a myxedema coma. This is a severe illness in which a loss of brain function occurs from extreme and prolonged exposure to low levels of thyroid hormone in the blood. In the worst case scenario, death may occur. In order to stop this, thyroid surgical removal or a thyroidectomy would be needed.
Testing for Hypothyroidism
Of course, with any illness, the best way to treat it is to attack the problem at its earliest stages. In order to do so, a testing and examination would be necessary to conduct. This is done by a lab test known as the thyroid function test. By measuring the Thyroid Stimulating Hormones or TSH and thyroxine or T4 levels, it can be determine how severe the case of hypothyroidism is. Cholesterol level measurement is also vital. For instance, an individual with overt hypothyroidism will yield clear signs of it such as high TSH (10 mU/L and above) and low thyroxine levels. A hypothyroidism treatment process such as the thyroid replacement therapy as mentioned above may be required (source).