What are the Different Types of Hypothyroidism Treatment?
Hormones produced by the thyroid, a small gland located at the bottom of the neck, play an important role in several bodily functions, including regulating the temperature and the heart rate and controlling the way in which carbohydrates and fats are processed. In the condition known as hypothyroidism, the thyroid fails to produce sufficient amounts of these hormones, resulting in symptoms such as depression, low energy levels, pallor and dryness of the skin, increased cholesterol, and weight gain. Luckily, it is possible to receive hypothyroidism treatment, which can help regulate the body’s hormonal balance and in turn erase these symptoms. Synthetic hormone substitution is the primary form of hypothyroidism treatment.
Normally, the thyroid releases two hormones which are critical to regulating such bodily functions as heart rate and temperature. These hormones are called thyroxine, also known as T4, and triiodothyronine, also known as T3. When an individual has hypothyroidism, however, his thyroid does not produce enough T4 and T3 to regulate these bodily functions. Fortunately, researchers have developed a synthetic form of T4, known as levothyroxine, which can be successfully used as a hypothyroidism treatment.
Regular, ongoing usage of levothyroxine, commonly dispensed in pill form, can help restore the body’s balance of thyroid-produced hormones to regular levels. After approximately two weeks of this form of hypothyroidism treatment, most patients begin to feel their symptoms lessen in severity. Often, symptoms greatly diminish or even disappear as treatment continues. It should be noted, however, that hypothyroidism treatment with levothyroxine must be continued for the duration of the patient’s life. In most cases, if treatment is discontinued, symptoms will return within a matter of weeks or months.
The dosage of levothyroxine needed for successful hypothyroidism treatment varies from person to person. Therefore, physicians normally start a patient on a relatively low dosage. After a period of several weeks, the patient will return to his physician’s office to have his hormone levels and symptoms evaluated. Based on the patient’s progress, the physician may increase or lower his levothyroxine dosage.
Levothyroxine counters the effects of hypothyroidism, including the decreased blood pressure and depressed metabolism often associated with the condition. The increase in blood pressure and metabolism which usually accompany the use of synthetic thyroid hormones can prove stressful to those with heart problems. Therefore, those with a history of cardiac issues should notify their physicians before beginning hypothyroidism treatment so that hormone dosage can be determined accordingly.
Consumption of certain foods and nutritional supplements can limit the body’s ability to absorb levothyroxine. Caffeine and iron supplements, for instance, may inhibit absorption of the drug. To ensure proper levothyroxine absorption, patients taking the drug for the first time should discuss their nutritional habits with their physicians.
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