Controlling Your Hypothyroidism

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When the thyroid gland stops producing enough thyroid hormone, the condition is called underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. While it can cause serious symptoms and complications, hypothyroidism is actually very manageable. A synthetic thyroid hormone pill taken every day can give you the thyroid hormone your body needs to function properly.

Medication to Treat Hypothyroidism

When the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, the recommended treatment is fairly straightforward. An artificial hormone made in the laboratory, called L-thyroxine or levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl), is what’s most commonly used to treat hypothyroidism. Additionally, because your body’s needs will change over time, you’ll need regular monitoring of the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood to manage your medication dosage.

Factors That Affect Hypothyroidism Treatment

Your age, diet, and any other medications you take can affect how much synthetic thyroid hormone you need to treat your hypothyroidism.

Other factors that can affect how well thyroid hormone replacement works include:

  • Soy intake
  • Body weight
  • Gender
  • Being pregnant
  • Iron supplementation

Taking iron supplements may affect the body’s ability to absorb levothyroxine, as can eating or drinking too many soy products.

Other Factors

Pregnant women who have a family history of thyroid or autoimmune disease, or who have already been diagnosed with thyroid disease, have to be monitored closely as well. The amount of thyroid hormone needed goes up during pregnancy, these levels need to be closely monitored because if hypothyroidism is present in the pregnant woman, it can lead to implications for the unborn child.

Age also plays a big role in how much medication you need to replace lost thyroid hormone. As people age, they may require less of the medication as they would have if they where younger. Hypothyroid medication can sometimes interact with other medications — so all of your medications should be monitored carefully by your doctor and pharmacist.

Monitoring Hypothyroidism

Because changes due to aging, other medications, and diet are so common, regular blood tests to monitor thyroid hormone levels are important when you’re being treated for hypothyroidism. Regular TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, tests are the best way to stay on top of any changes in the level of thyroid hormone your body needs. This simple blood test will help your doctor adjust your medication as necessary.

Long-Term Hypothyroidism Treatment

While medication can help you to effectively manage your hypothyroidism, it’s not a cure and you’ll have to take synthetic hormones for the rest of your life in order to stay well. If you stop taking your medication, your thyroid hormone level will decrease again, and the symptoms that you noticed before treatment will return.

If you’re not feeling your best despite taking your medication, your dosage may need to be altered. If you’re feeling well, the medication is doing its job — so keep taking it according to your doctor’s instructions.

Never stop taking your thyroid medication without your doctor’s input. If you don’t feel that your medication is managing your symptoms well enough, talk to your doctor about it. The dose can be adjusted until your thyroid hormone levels reach a normal point and your hypothyroidism is under control. It may take a little time, but the right amount of medication will eventually have you feeling like yourself again.

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