What is hypothyroidism and how do we treat it?

What are thyroid disorders?

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What Is Hypothyroidism and How Do We Treat It?Picture of Thyroid Gland

Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid has important roles to regulate numerous metabolic processes throughout the body. Different types of thyroid disorders affect either its structure or function.

The thyroid gland is located below the Adam's apple wrapped around the trachea (windpipe). A thin area of tissue in the gland's middle, known as the isthmus, joins the two thyroid lobes on each side. The thyroid uses iodine to produce vital hormones.

Thyroxine, also known as T4, is the primary hormone produced by the gland. After delivery via the bloodstream to the body's tissues, a small portion of the T4 released from the gland is converted to triiodothyronine (T3), which is the most active hormone.

The function of the thyroid gland is regulated by a feedback mechanism involving the brain. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone known as thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) that causes the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) to release thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to release more T4.

Since the thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, disorders of these tissues can also affect thyroid function and cause thyroid problems.

Thyroid disease is a common problem that can cause symptoms because of over- or under-function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is an essential organ for producing thyroid hormones, which maintain are body metabolism.

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck below the Adam's apple.

Thyroid disease can also sometimes lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland in the neck, which can cause symptoms that are directly related to the increase in size of the organ (such as difficulty swallowing and discomfort in front of the neck).

Read more about thyroid disease symptoms and signs »

Hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism results from the thyroid gland producing an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. It can develop from problems within the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, or hypothalamus. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

Some common causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis (an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland)
  • Thyroid hormone resistance
  • Other types of thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid), such as acute thyroiditis and postpartum thyroiditis

What Is Hypothyroidism and How Do We Treat It? Thyroid Disorders See a medical illustration of the thyroid plus our entire medical gallery of human anatomy and physiology See Images

Goiter

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A goiter simply describes enlargement of the thyroid gland, regardless of cause. A goiter is not a specific disease per se. A goiter may be associated with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or normal thyroid function.

Thyroid nodules

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Nodules are lumps or abnormal masses within the thyroid.

Nodules can be caused by benign cysts, benign tumors, or, less commonly, by cancers of the thyroid. Nodules may be single or multiple and can vary in size.

If nodules are excessively large, they may cause symptoms related to compression of nearby structures.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is far more common among adult women than men or youth. About 2/3 of cases occur in people under age 55. There are different kinds of thyroid cancer, depending upon the specific cell type within the thyroid that has become cancerous. Most cases of thyroid cancer have a good prognosis and high survival rates, especially when diagnosed in its early stages.

How are thyroid disorders diagnosed?

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In addition to thorough medical history and physical exam, specialized tests are used to diagnose thyroid disorders.

Blood tests are typically done to measure levels of thyroid hormones and TSH. Blood tests to identify antibodies against thyroid tissue may also be ordered by your doctor, such as titers of anti-thyroglobulin, anti-thyroperoxidase, or TSH receptor stimulating antibodies.

Imaging tests are commonly used when thyroid nodules or enlargement are present. Ultrasound can visualize the consistency of the tissue within the gland and can often reveal cysts or calcifications. Ultrasound examination cannot distinguish a benign from a malignant process.

Thyroid scans using radioactive iodine are often performed to evaluate the function of thyroid nodules. The thyroid is the only location in the body that takes up iodine, so when radioactively labeled iodine is given, it is taken up by the thyroid gland. An imaging test typically shows uptake of radioactive iodine by normal thyroid tissue.

Areas or nodules that are producing excess hormone (referred to as hyperfunctioning) will show an increased uptake of iodine. These are referred to as “hot” nodules or areas. By contrast, so-called “cold” nodules represent areas with decreased iodine uptake. “Cold” nodules do not produce excess hormone and can sometimes represent cancer.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

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The thyroid gland is an important organ that regulates metabolism. The thyroid gland makes two forms of thyroid hormone – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is not producing enough of these hormones. Primary hypothyroidism affects the whole body and may cause a variety of symptoms.

Having too little thyroid hormone can affect the whole body. The body's normal rate of functioning slows, causing mental and physical sluggishness. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe.

Symptoms are different for each person. They are usually hard to notice and start slowly. They may be mistaken for symptoms of depression.

Here are the most common symptoms and signs:

  • Dull facial expressions
  • Tiredness and lack of energy (fatigue)
  • Not being able to handle cold
  • Hoarse voice
  • Slow speech
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Puffy and swollen face
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Sparse, coarse, and dry hair
  • Coarse, dry, and thickened skin
  • Hand tingling or pain (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Slow pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Sides of eyebrows thin or fall out
  • Confusion
  • Increased or irregular menstrual flow in women

How is Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?

At the UCLA Endocrine Center, you will meet with an endocrinologist who will ask about your past health and perform a comprehensive physical exam.

Blood tests can help diagnose hypothyroidism. Laboratory tests to determine thyroid function include:

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This means your immune system starts to attack itself. It makes antibodies against the thyroid gland.

The normal thyroid cells are overrun by white blood cells and scar tissue. Sometimes hypothyroidism occurs after treatment for an overactive thyroid gland. That may include radioactive iodine therapy or surgery.

Hypothyroidism may also develop shortly after pregnancy.

A condition called secondary hypothyroidism can also sometimes happen. It’s when your pituitary gland stops working. The pituitary gland then no longer tells the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.

What Is Hypothyroidism and How Do We Treat It?There are special considerations for women who have had thyroid disease in the past or currently, and who might be considering pregnancy or are already pregnant. Increased monitoring and adjustment of thyroid-related medications is recommended during this period for the health of both the mother and her baby. Special planning might also be necessary for women with a condition in which thyroid surgery and/or radioactive iodine are required.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a type of inflammation of the thyroid gland that results from an autoimmune process.  It is the most common cause of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism in the U.S.  However, some individuals with Hashimoto's thyroiditis may never develop hypothyroidism and thus never have any symptoms.

How is Hypothyroidism Treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

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The thyroid gland is located in the front lower part of your neck. Hormones released by the gland travel through your bloodstream and affect nearly every part of your body, from your heart and brain, to your muscles and skin.

What Is Hypothyroidism and How Do We Treat It?

The thyroid controls how your body's cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism. Among other things, your metabolism affects your body’s temperature, your heartbeat, and how well you burn calories. If you don't have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes slow down. That means your body makes less energy, and your metabolism becomes sluggish.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may be vague and can often mimic other conditions. They may include:

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dry hair and hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Greater sensitivity to cold
  • Slow heart rate
  • Swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter)
  • Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Babies with hypothyroidism may have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Hoarse cry
  • Little or no growth
  • Low muscle tone (floppy infant)
  • Persistent jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Poor feeding habits
  • Puffy face
  • Stomach bloating
  • Swollen tongue

Make an appointment with your health care provider if you or your baby has any of these symptoms. It is important to note that these symptoms can be due to other medical conditions.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's thyroiditis. “Thyroiditis” is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. With Hashimoto’s, your body produces antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis may also be caused by a viral infection.

Other causes of hypothyroidism include:

  • Radiation therapy to the neck area. Treating certain cancers, such as lymphoma, requires radiation to the neck. Radiation damages the cells in the thyroid. This makes it more difficult for the gland to produce hormone.
  • Radioactive iodine treatment. This treatment is commonly prescribed to people who have an overactive thyroid gland, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. However, radiation destroys the cells in the thyroid gland. This usually leads to hypothyroidism.
  • Use of certain medications . Certain medicines to treat heart problems, psychiatric conditions, and cancer can sometimes affect the production of thyroid hormone. These include amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), , interferon alpha, and interleukin-2.
  • Thyroid surgery . Surgery to remove the thyroid will lead to hypothyroidism. If only part of the thyroid is removed, the remaining gland may still be able to produce enough hormone for the body's needs.
  • Too little iodine in the diet. The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. Your body doesn't make iodine, so you need to get it through your diet. Iodized table salt is rich in iodine. Other food sources of iodine include shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, dairy products, and seaweed. Iodine deficiency is rare in the U.S.
  • Pregnancy . The reason isn’t clear, but sometimes, inflammation of the thyroid occurs after pregnancy. This is called postpartum thyroiditis. Women with this condition usually have a severe increase in thyroid hormone levels followed by a sharp drop in thyroid hormone production. Most women with postpartum thyroiditis will regain their normal thyroid function.
  • Problems with the thyroid at birth. Some babies may be born with a thyroid gland that did not develop correctly or does not work properly. This type of hypothyroidism is called congenital hypothyroidism. Most hospitals in the U.S. screen babies at birth for this disease.
  • Pituitary gland damage or disorder. Rarely, a problem with the pituitary gland can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland makes a hormone, called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells your thyroid how much hormone it should make and release.
  • Disorder of the hypothalamus. An extremely rare form of hypothyroidism can occur if the hypothalamus in the brain does not produce enough of a hormone called TRH. TRH affects the release of TSH from the pituitary gland.

Primary hypothyroidism is caused by a problem with the thyroid gland itself.

Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when another problem interferes with the thyroid's ability to produce hormones. For example, the pituitary gland or hypothalamus produce hormones that trigger the release of thyroid hormone. A problem with one of these glands can make your thyroid underactive.

Sometimes, an underactive thyroid that results from a problem with the hypothalamus is called tertiary hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Disease Management and Treatment

Your healthcare provider’s goal is to return your thyroid hormone levels to normal. This can be done in a variety of ways and each specific treatment will depend on the cause of your thyroid condition.

If you have high levels of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), treatment options can include:

  • Anti-thyroid drugs (methimazole and propylthioracil): These are medications that stop your thyroid from making hormones.
  • Radioactive iodine: This treatment damages the cells of your thyroid, preventing it from making high levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Beta blockers: These medications don’t change the amount of hormones in your body, but they help control your symptoms.
  • Surgery: A more permanent form of treatment, your healthcare provider may surgically remove your thyroid (thyroidectomy). This will stop it from creating hormones. However, you will need to take thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of your life.

If you have low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), the main treatment option is:

  • Thyroid replacement medication: This drug is a synthetic (man-made) way to add thyroid hormones back into your body. One drug that’s commonly used is called levothyroxine. By using a medication, you can control thyroid disease and live a normal life.

Are there different types of thyroid removal surgery?

If your healthcare provider determines that your thyroid needs to be removed, there are a couple of ways that can be done. Your thyroid may need to be completely removed or just partially. This will depend on the severity of your condition. Also, if your thyroid is very big (enlarged) or has a lot of growths on it, that could prevent you from being eligible for some types of surgery.

The surgery to remove your thyroid is called a thyroidectomy. There are two main ways this surgery can be done:

  • With an incision on the front of your neck.
  • With an incision in your armpit.

The incision on the front of your neck is more of the traditional version of a thyroidectomy. It allows your surgeon to go straight in and remove the thyroid. In many cases, this might be your best option. You may need this approach if your thyroid is particularly big or has a lot of larger nodules.

Hypothyroidism Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy, Subclinical Hypothyroidism

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  2. Li D, Radulescu A, Shrestha RT, et al. Association of Biotin Ingestion With Performance of Hormone and Nonhormone Assays in Healthy Adults. JAMA. 2017 Sep 26. 318 (12):1150-60. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  3. Kreisman SH, Hennessey JV. Consistent reversible elevations of serum creatinine levels in severe hypothyroidism. Arch Intern Med. 1999 Jan 11. 159(1):79-82. [Medline].

  4. Ladenson PW, Singer PA, Ain KB, et al. American Thyroid Association guidelines for detection of thyroid dysfunction. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Jun 12. 160(11):1573-5. [Medline].

  5. McDermott MT. Does combination T4 and T3 therapy make sense?. Endocr Pract. 2012 Sep-Oct. 18(5):750-7. [Medline].

  6. [Guideline] Jonklaas J, Bianco AC, Bauer AJ, et al. Guidelines for the treatment of hypothyroidism: prepared by the american thyroid association task force on thyroid hormone replacement. Thyroid. 2014 Dec. 24(12):1670-751. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  7. Melville NA. New ATA guidelines stick with levothyroxine for hypothyroidism. Medscape Medical News from WebMD. October 02, 2014. Available at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/832682. Accessed: February 19, 2015.

  8. Kim D. The Role of Vitamin D in Thyroid Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Sep 12. 18 (9):[Medline]. [Full Text].

  9. Mourtzinis G, Adamsson Eryd S, Rosengren A, et al. Primary aldosteronism and thyroid disorders in atrial fibrillation: A Swedish nationwide case-control study. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2018 Jan 1. 2047487318759853. [Medline].

  10. Bothra N, Shah N, Goroshi M, et al. Hashimoto's thyroiditis: Relative recurrence risk ratio and implications for screening of first degree relatives. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2017 Mar 8. [Medline].

  11. Stuckey BG, Kent GN, Ward LC, Brown SJ, Walsh JP. Postpartum thyroid dysfunction and the long-term risk of hypothyroidism: results from a 12-year follow-up study of women with and without postpartum thyroid dysfunction. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Sep. 73(3):389-95. [Medline].

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  14. Denny JC, Crawford DC, Ritchie MD, et al. Variants near FOXE1 are associated with hypothyroidism and other thyroid conditions: using electronic medical records for genome- and phenome-wide studies. Am J Hum Genet. 2011 Oct 7. 89(4):529-42. [Medline]. [Full Text].

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Home » Patients Portal » Thyroid Q&A » Q and A: Can thyroid disease be cured?

Q: Can thyroid disease be cured?

A: This is a difficult question to answer due to the differences between the ideas of “treatment” vs. “cure”. All thyroid diseases can be treated, resulting in normal thyroid function. However, this frequently requires being on medication to maintain the normal thyroid state.

For example, most patients with thyroid cancer can be cured through surgery and radioactive iodine treatments (see Thyroid Cancer brochure). While their cancer is cured, the curative treatment results in hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement for life.

Hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease is caused by antibodies attacking the thyroid and turning it on (see Graves’ disease brochure). Antithyroid medication, radioactive iodine, and surgery are all effective treatments and can restore thyroid function to normal. Radioactive iodine and surgery also can “cure” the hyperthyroidism by removing the thyroid.

However, the thyroid stimulating antibodies often are unaffected by these treatments, so the underlying cause of Graves’ disease persists. Occasionally, the thyroid stimulating antibodies do go away in patients treated with antithyroid drugs, resulting in remission of the Graves’ disease and allowing for discontinuation of the medications.

However, the thyroid stimulating antibodies may return causing the Graves disease to relapse.

A similar situation occurs in patients with hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is caused by antibodies attacking and destroying the thyroid (see Hypothyroidism brochure). While thyroid hormone replacement restores the body’s thyroid function to normal, the anti-thyroid antibodies often remain.

There are self-limited thyroid disorders, such as post-partum thyroiditis and subacute thyroiditis, where no therapy is necessary after the disorder runs its course (see Thyroiditis brochure). However, post-partum thyroiditis frequently recurs with subsequent pregnancies.

In summary, the most important aspect of thyroid disease is that effective treatments are available that can restore thyroid function to normal, even if the underlying cause of the disorder is not “cured”. Once diagnosed with thyroid disease, all patients need lifelong medical follow up to ensure that their thyroid function remains in the best range.

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The user should consult a physician in all matters relating to his or her health, and particularly in respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) – Treatment

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is usually treated by taking daily hormone replacement tablets called levothyroxine.

Levothyroxine replaces the thyroxine hormone, which your thyroid does not make enough of.

You'll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached. This can take a little while to get right.

You may start on a low dose of levothyroxine, which may be increased gradually, depending on how your body responds. Some people start to feel better soon after beginning treatment, while others don't notice an improvement in their symptoms for several months.

Once you're taking the correct dose, you'll usually have a blood test once a year to monitor your hormone levels.

If blood tests suggest you may have an underactive thyroid, but you don't have any symptoms or they're very mild, you may not need any treatment. In these cases, the GP will usually monitor your hormone levels every few months and prescribe levothyroxine if you develop symptoms.

If you're prescribed levothyroxine, you should take 1 tablet at the same time every day. It's usually recommended that you take the tablets in the morning, although some people prefer to take them at night.

The effectiveness of the tablets can be altered by other medications, supplements or foods, so they should be swallowed with water on an empty stomach, and you should avoid eating for 30 minutes afterwards.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, if this is within a few hours of your usual time. If you do not remember until later than this, skip the dose and take the next dose at the usual time, unless advised otherwise by a doctor.

An underactive thyroid is a lifelong condition, so you'll usually need to take levothyroxine for the rest of your life.

If you're prescribed levothyroxine because you have an underactive thyroid, you're entitled to a medical exemption certificate. This means you don't have to pay for your prescriptions. See getting help with prescription costs for more information on this.

Side effects

Levothyroxine does not usually have any side effects, because the tablets simply replace a missing hormone.

Side effects usually only occur if you're taking too much levothyroxine. This can cause problems including sweating, chest pain, headaches, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Tell the doctor if you develop new symptoms while taking levothyroxine. You should also let them know if your symptoms get worse or do not improve.

  • In the UK, combination therapy – using levothyroxine and triiodothyronine (T3) together – is not routinely used because there's insufficient evidence to show it's better than using levothyroxine alone (monotherapy).
  • In most cases, suppressing thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) using high dose thyroid replacement therapy should be avoided because it carries a risk of causing adverse side effects, such as atrial fibrillation (an irregular and abnormally fast heart rate), strokes, osteoporosis and fracture.
  • However, this type of treatment may sometimes be recommended in cases where a person has a history of thyroid cancer and there's a significant risk of it reoccurring.

It's important for the health of you and your baby that an underactive thyroid is treated properly before you become pregnant.

Tell your GP if you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant and you have hypothyroidism. They may refer you to a specialist for treatment and monitoring during your pregnancy.

Hypothyroidism: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D. — Written by James McIntosh on January 2, 2018

  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • Prevention
  • Diet
  • Causes
  • Natural remedies
  • Diagnosis
  • Risk factors
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Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. The thyroid is underactive.

The opposite is hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. However, the link between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism is complex, and one can lead to the other, in certain circumstances.

Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, or the way the body uses energy. If thyroxine levels are low, many of the body’s functions slow down.

About 4.6 percent of the population aged 12 years and above in the United States has hypothyroidism.

The thyroid gland is found in the front of the neck below the larynx, or voice box, and has two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe.

It is an endocrine gland, made up of special cells that make hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that relay information to the organs and tissues of the body, controlling processes such as metabolism, growth, and mood.

The production of thyroid hormones is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is made by the pituitary gland.

This, in turn, is regulated by the hypothalamus, a region of the brain. TSH ensures that enough thyroid hormones are made to meet the needs of the body.

Share on PinterestHypothyroidism refers to the underproduction of hormones in the thyroid gland. It has a wide range of symptoms.

Thyroid hormones affect multiple organ systems, so the symptoms of hypothyroidism are wide-ranging and diverse.

The thyroid creates two thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These regulate metabolism, and they also affect the following functions:

  • brain development
  • breathing
  • heart and nervous system functions
  • body temperature
  • muscle strength
  • skin dryness
  • menstrual cycles
  • weight
  • cholesterol levels

Symptoms of hypothyroidism commonly include, but are not limited to:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • cold intolerance
  • slowed heart rate, movements, and speech
  • joint and muscle pain, cramps, and weakness
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • thin, brittle hair or fingernails
  • decreased sweating
  • pins and needles
  • heavy periods, or menorrhagia
  • weakness
  • high cholesterol
  • puffy face, feet, and hands
  • insomnia
  • balance and co-ordination issues
  • loss of libido
  • recurrent urinary and respiratory tract infections
  • anemia
  • depression

If left untreated, the following symptoms can manifest:

  • hoarseness
  • puffiness in the face
  • thinned or missing eyebrows
  • slow heart rate
  • hearing loss

If it develops in children or teenagers, the signs and symptoms are generally the same as adults.

However, they may also experience:

  • poor growth
  • delayed development of teeth
  • poor mental development
  • delayed puberty

Hypothyroidism develops slowly. Symptoms may go unnoticed for a long time, and they may be vague and general.

Symptoms vary a great deal between individuals, and they are shared by other conditions. The only way to obtain a concrete diagnosis is through a blood test.

Treatment for hypothyroidism focuses on supplementing the thyroid hormone. At present, doctors cannot cure hypothyroidism but they can help people to control it in most cases.

Synthetic thyroxine

To replenish levels, doctors usually prescribe synthetic thyroxine, a medication that is identical to the T4 hormone. Doctors may recommend taking this in the morning before eating each day.

Dosage is determined by the patient’s history, symptoms, and current TSH level. Doctors will regularly monitor the patient’s blood to determine if the dosage of synthetic T4 needs to be adjusted.

5 Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism

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The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is taking daily thyroid hormone replacement medication. Of course, medications often come with side effects, and forgetting to take a pill might lead to more symptoms.

In some cases, natural remedies may cause fewer side effects and fit into your overall lifestyle better.

The goal of natural remedies or alternative medicine is to fix the root cause of the thyroid problem. Thyroid problems sometimes start as the result of:

  • poor diet
  • stress
  • missing nutrients in your body

Changing your diet and taking an herbal supplement are two ways you can help your thyroid condition. These options may have fewer side effects than taking thyroid medication.

Also, taking an herbal supplement to help address a low or underactive thyroid may be helpful for people who aren’t responding well to medications.

Consider the following five natural remedies as additions or alternatives to your treatment plan.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), selenium is a trace element that plays a part in thyroid hormone metabolism.

Many foods contain selenium, including:

  • tuna
  • turkey
  • Brazil nuts
  • grass-fed beef

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an immune system attack on the thyroid, often reduces the body’s selenium supply. Supplementing this trace element has shown to help balance thyroxine, or T4, levels in some people.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about how much selenium may be right for you since every person is different.

Sugar and processed foods can lead to increased inflammation in the body.

Inflammation can slow down the conversion of T4 to triiodothyronine, or T3, another thyroid hormone. This can make your symptoms and thyroid disease worsen.

Also, sugar only boosts your energy level in the short term, eliminating it from your diet may help regulate your energy levels. Additionally, removing sugar from your diet may help your stress levels and skin.

It’s not easy to adopt a sugar-free diet, but the benefit to your thyroid health may be worth it.

Taking certain vitamin supplements can have an effect on your thyroid health.

Low thyroid hormones can affect your body’s vitamin B-12 levels. Taking a vitamin B-12 supplement may help you repair some of the damage hypothyroidism caused.

Vitamin B-12 can help with the tiredness thyroid disease can cause. The disease also affects your vitamin B-1 levels. You can add more B vitamins to your diet with the following foods:

  • peas and beans
  • asparagus
  • sesame seeds
  • tuna
  • cheese
  • milk
  • eggs

Vitamin B-12 is generally safe for most healthy individuals at recommended levels. Talk with your doctor about how much vitamin B-12 may be right for you.

  • The NIH studied the link between hypothyroidism and small intestine problems.
  • It was found that altered gastrointestinal (GI) motility commonly seen with hypothyroidism can cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and ultimately lead to chronic GI symptoms, such as diarrhea.
  • Probiotic supplements contain live helpful bacteria that can help keep your stomach and intestines healthy.
  • Besides supplement forms, fermented food and drink, such as kefir, kombucha, some cheeses, and yogurt contain useful probiotics.

However, the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved the use of probiotics for the prevention or treatment of any condition. Talk with your doctor to see if these supplements might help you.

  1. Adopting a gluten-free diet is more than a fad for many people with hypothyroidism.
  2. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, a significant number of people with thyroid disease also have celiac disease.
  3. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder in which gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestines.
  4. Research doesn’t currently support a gluten-free diet for the treatment of thyroid disease.
  5. However, many people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism do feel better after removing wheat and other gluten-containing foods from their diet.

But there are some drawbacks to going gluten free. For one, the cost of buying gluten-free foods is often much higher than foods containing wheat.

Also, some prepackaged, gluten-free foods aren’t healthy. That’s because these foods can have a higher fat content and less fiber than wheat- containing products.

For many, the advantages of adopting a natural thyroid treatment plan outweigh the disadvantages.

However, if you’ve had surgery to remove your thyroid, a natural thyroid treatment plan isn’t for you. As always, you should discuss any treatment plans with your doctor before starting them.

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