Thyroid Problems – Understanding the Basics
Hypothyroidism is an under active thyroid gland. When your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone to maintain your body’s correct functions, you will be diagnosed as hypothyroid. Most often people with hypothyroidism have low body mass index or high blood pressure. They also may have symptoms like joint aches, fatigue and weight gain. If left untreated, a hypothyroid patient can become prone to cancer of the thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is the opposite of hypothyroidism. This disorder is when the thyroid produces too much hormone for the body. Common signs and symptoms of this disorder include rapid pulse, sweaty palms, dry skin and constipation. Most thyroid overactivity is caused by medications and radiation therapy.
Hyperthyroidism treatment can be successful. Your doctor will prescribe medications that help the body produce more thyroid hormones. These are usually synthetic forms of the thyroid hormones called levothyroxine and hydroxychloroquine. These synthetic hormones are much more effective than the natural hormones that your body produces. However, these drugs can have some serious side effects including bone loss, fluid retention, heart problems and increased risk of infection.
Some patients may experience symptoms only in one side of their body. These patients may be prescribed additional medication. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may need to take a different course of medication. Be sure to inform your doctor about any other medications you’re currently taking, including herbs, vitamins or any over the counter medications.
A hypothyroidism patient may also be referred to a Thyroid Specialist. Thyroid specialists are doctors who specialize in the thyroid gland. They can determine if the patient is suffering from hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. They can also find out the cause of the thyroid dysfunction. This will help them determine the best course of treatment for the patient.
One of the most common tests performed by a thyroid specialist is a blood test called a blood count. The blood is drawn from the thyroid gland and tested for abnormalities. If the test indicates an overactive or under active thyroid, the doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone replacement therapy. When this is done, patients will have to take synthetic hormones to replace what is being lost by the thyroid. Patients are expected to take these medications for the rest of their lives.
The doctor may choose to begin a surgical procedure to remove the thyroid. This is usually the case when the thyroid gland has already been damaged. Undergoing surgery for hypothyroidism treatment requires that the patient is examined by an endocrinologist and a surgeon. After the surgical procedure is completed, the patient should avoid iodine-based products including seaweed, canned fish, dairy products and some types of bread.
A patient can also have a normal thyroid function and undergo a natural thyroid treatment in conjunction with their conventional treatment. This is known as the alternative method of hypothyroidism treatment. Examples of this include acupuncture, acupressure and lifestyle changes. Patients who choose to use natural treatments to treat their hypothyroidism often find that they can get the results they are looking for without having to take synthetic hormones or drugs. Of course, once thyroid gland damage is repaired, it is possible that a person can develop hypothyroidism again even though they have followed a healthy diet and exercise program.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too little hormone. It is considered a functional thyroid disease because it does not produce sufficient quantities of iodine, which is essential for human development. Iodine is needed to absorb the thyroid hormone. When the gland cannot produce adequate amounts of iodine, the body has to compensate by taking iodine from foods and the bloodstream. Some people can absorb iodine from their diet, while others may need to take iodine supplements.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression, weight gain, constipation, and fatigue. Each of these symptoms can be accompanied by one or more physical symptoms. Common physical symptoms include joint pain, numbness in hands and feet, a decreased appetite, increased menstrual blood pressure, decreased mental alertness, tremors and increased frequency of infections. A feeling of cold extremities, a sensation of being detached from one’s surroundings and having problems with digestion are also common to individuals suffering from hypothyroidism. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels tend to be higher in people suffering from hypothyroidism. Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can cause serious health complications and even organ failure.
Treatment of hypothyroidism includes medications and surgery. Levothyroxine, synthetic T4, and beta-blockers are commonly used to treat the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Surgery, however, is usually only recommended for cases in which the patient would have a much bigger problem if treated without treatment.