Hypothyroidism is a disease in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is situated at the base of the neck just below the voice box. The hormones secreted by this gland control metabolism and affect every single cell in the body. Following are some basic hypothyroidism guidelines.
The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which regulate many functions in the body. Symptoms are many and varied. They can also be so vague during the initial stages of the disease as to be unnoticeable as well as common to other disorders, notably menopause. Physicians recommend people with hypothyroidism follow a number of guidelines which, if followed, can successfully treat this disorder and keep it under control.
Interesting Questions about Thyroid:
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone pills. The pills provide the body with the right amount of thyroid hormone when the gland is not able to produce enough by itself. While the symptoms of hypothyroidism are usually corrected within a few months, most patients need to take the pills for the rest of their lives.
The preferred thyroid hormone for treatment is levothyroxine (T4). You should use only the brand-name that your doctor prescribes, since generic brands may not be as reliable. Name brand levothyroxine pills include Levothroid®, Synthroid®, Levoxyl®, and Eltroxin®.
Patients sometimes take more pills than they should, trying to speed up the treatment or lose weight. However, this can lead to hyperthyroidism, a disease in which there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood, and to long-term complications, such as osteoporosis. You should take the pills as your doctor prescribes.
At different times in your life, you may need to take different amounts of thyroid hormones. Therefore, you should see your doctor once a year to make sure everything is all right.
® Levothroid is a registered trademark of Forest Pharmaceuticals.
® Synthroid is a registered trademark of Knoll Pharmaceuticals.
® Levoxyl is a registered trademark of Jones Medical Industries.
® Eltroxin is a registered trademark of Roberts Pharmaceuticals.
Possible effects of hypothyroidism are:
- slow heart rate (less than 70 beats per minute)
- elevated blood pressure
- feeling slow or tired
- feeling cold
- drowsy during the day, even after sleeping all night
- poor memory
- difficulty concentrating
- muscle cramps, numb arms and legs
- weight gain
- puffy face, especially under the eyes
- husky voice
- thinning hair
- dry, coarse, flaky, yellowish skin
- in children, short height
- heavy menstrual flow
- milky discharge from the breasts
- goiter (an abnormal swelling in the neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland).
Called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it is by far the most common form. It begins so slowly that most people don’t know anything is wrong. Over time, the disease destroys thyroid tissue until permanent hypothyroidism results. Some patients with Hashimoto’s have normal thyroid functions (euthyroidism) with a goiter.
It’s a less common form, with far fewer cases than in chronic thyroiditis. Often caused by a viral infection, the disease lasts for several months. Subacute thyroiditis is painful, causing a tender, swollen thyroid gland with pain throughout the neck. The pain usually responds to treatment with aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs. At first, gland destruction causes the release of stored thyroid hormones, inducing temporary hyperthyroidism. A month or two later, the patient may become hypothyroid, because the thyroid has been damaged and its hormone reserves used up. Most patients return to normal within six to nine months, but the hypothyroidism could be permanent.
It causes a painless swelling of the thyroid gland. When this disease occurs after pregnancy, it is called postpartum thyroiditis. The course of painless thyroiditis is otherwise similiar to painful subacute thyroiditis.
A rare disease, is caused by an acute infection. Patients with the disease become very sick and have a high fever. The neck is red, hot, and very tender. Acute thyroiditis is a medical emergency and must be treated with antibiotics and surgery.
Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ
Helpful Hypothyroidism Guidelines
Regular medical checkups: – One of the most important hypothyroidism guidelines is that anyone who has been diagnosed with thyroid problems should undergo regular medical checkups. The treating doctor should be up to speed with the medical history of the patient and be knowledgeable about the disease. This will ensure the required medicines are prescribed.
Regular laboratory tests: – A hypothyroidism patient should be tested fairly regularly to track the progress of their condition and note any deterioration or improvement. This allows dose rates and medications to be adjusted as required.
Constant medical treatment: – Hypothyroidism can be very effectively kept under control through hormone replacement drugs. Therefore it’s important that patients take their medications as prescribed and follow medical directions with regard to their health generally.
Dietary considerations: – In addition to thyroid hormone replacement medications, people with hypothyroidism can follow certain types of diets that are designed to help reduce foods that can aggravate the condition, or some of the symptoms. However, generally most patients can eat a wide variety of food, but it is advisable to know which foods need to be consumed sparingly, or cooked, and which ones can’t be taken too close to thyroid medications because they interfere with the absorption of the medication. Some types of hypothyroidism, notably that caused by iodine deficiency, can be treated by including iodine rich foods in the diet. Notwithstanding this, it’s important to note that a balanced healthy diet is the foundation of good health generally, and will go a long way towards ensuring that even with thyroid issues, someone can still enjoy good health.