Hypothyroidism/ Myxoedema : Thyroid Gland – Treatment
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.
The purpose of treatment is to replace the thyroid hormone that is lacking.Levothyroxine is the most commonly used medication. Doctors will prescribe the lowest dose that effectively relieves symptoms and brings the TSH level to a normal range. If you have heart disease or you are older, your doctor may start with a very small dose.
Lifelong therapy is required unless you have a condition called transient viral thyroiditis.
You must continue taking your medication even when your symptoms go away. When starting your medication, your doctor may check your hormone levels every 2 – 3 months. After that, your thyroid hormone levels should be monitored at least every year.
Important things to remember when you are taking thyroid hormone are:
- Do NOT stop taking the medication when you feel better. Continue taking the medication exactly as directed by your doctor.
- If you change brands of thyroid medicine, let your doctor know. Your levels may need to be checked.
- Some dietary changes can change the way your body absorbs the thyroid medicine. Talk with your doctor if you are eating a lot of soy products or a high-fiber diet.
- Thyroid medicine works best on an empty stomach and when taken 1 hour before any other medications. Do NOT take thyroid hormone with calcium, iron, multivitamins, alumin hydroxide antacids, colestipol, or other medicines that bind bile acids, or fiber supplements.
After you start taking replacement therapy, tell your doctor if you have any symptoms of increased thyroid activity (hyperthyroidism) such as:
- Rapid weight loss
- Restlessness or shakiness
Myxedema coma is a medical emergency that occurs when the body’s level of thyroid hormones becomes extremely low. It is treated with intravenous thyroid hormone replacement and steroid medications. Some patients may need supportive therapy (oxygen, breathing assistance, fluid replacement) and intensive-care nursing.
If a person is experiencing symptoms resembling those of hypothyroidism, it is best to talk to a family physician immediately for appropriate diagnosis and treatments. Nutritional therapy should only be complementary and not used to replace conventional treatment for this disorder.
A naturopath or a nutritionist may recommend the following dietary changes to improve mild hypothyroidism:
- Avoiding eating the following raw foods: cabbage, mustard, spinach, cassava roots, peanuts, soybeans, and peaches. They may interfere with thyroid hormone production if not cooked.
- Eating foods with high iodine content such as fish, shellfish, and seaweed.
- Taking multivitamin and mineral supplements daily. Vitamins A, B2, B3,B6, E, and zinc are needed for normal thyroid hormone production.
- Strengthening thyroid function with thyroid preparations sold at local food stores. They are used to treat mild hypothyroidism only. Available products include thyroid extracts, iodine, zinc, or tyrosine. Most Americans may not need iodine supplements, as the daily requirement can easily be met by eating iodine-rich foods or using iodized salt. Consuming more than 600 mcg of iodine per day may result in toxicity.
Myxedema coma, the most severe form of hypothyroidism, is rare. It may be caused by an infection, illness, exposure to cold, or certain medications in people with untreated hypothyroidism.
Symptoms and signs of myxedema coma include:
- Below normal temperature
- Decreased breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
Other complications are:
- Heart disease
- Increased risk of infection
People with untreated hypothyroidism are at increased risk for:
- Giving birth to a baby with birth defects
- Heart disease because of higher levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Heart failure
People treated with too much thyroid hormone are at risk for angina or heart attack, as well as osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
There is no prevention for hypothyroidism.