Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland that produces an inadequate number of hormones. The hormones that the thyroid produces help regulate your metabolism and determines energy use for most of the organs in the human body. As a result, low levels of these types of hormones can cause a wide range of health conditions including mental and digestive issues. Without medical treatment, hypothyroidism can occur and lead to heart disease, obesity, chronic pain, and more.
So, why does hypothyroidism occur in the first place? It occurs when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed due to issues with the immune system. A damaged thyroid might not be unable to make enough hormones for the body to function efficiently. This type of thyroid gland failure can be caused by an autoimmune disease but can also be the result of surgical procedures conducted to treat thyroid cancer. Therefore, hypothyroidism can occur for some people while they are trying to manage other health conditions. For example, iodine treatment for a goiter kills a portion of the thyroid to prevent further growth of the goiter itself. It is also possible that your thyroid gland is fine but your pituitary gland in charge of stimulating your thyroid is not functioning properly.
Signs of Hypothyroidism
Now that we have discussed why does hypothyroidism occur; we’ll cover some of the common symptoms to look out for. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can slowly develop and increase in severity as the level of hormones produced by the thyroid decreases over time.
Common hypothyroidism symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Muscle aches, cramps, and weakness
- Slow movement or heart rate
- Memory issues
- Dry and flaky skin
- Brittle hair and nails
- Low sex drive
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Irregular or heavy periods
- Jaundice or late development in children
Talk to your doctor if one or more of these symptoms become problematic. Due to the similarity of many underactive thyroid symptoms that are present in other health conditions, when hypothyroidism occurs, it can be difficult to diagnose effectively. Your doctor will perform a thyroid function blood test to measure if your thyroid is getting enough stimulation or not. An antibody may also be conducted to rule out an autoimmune thyroid condition. Based on your condition and test results, you may be referred to an endocrinologist to help treat your hormone imbalance.
Hypothyroidism Treatment Options
Treating an underactive thyroid requires taking medication that balances your hormone levels. Your doctor will determine the right treatment option based on your specific hormone deficiency. Each medication provides different hormones at different levels. Your doctor will monitor your hormone levels regularly to ensure that you are receiving the right amount. One thing to note when taking thyroid hormones is that they stay in your system all day and should therefore not be taken with food because it can affect proper absorption. There are many kinds of thyroid replacement therapy options available, including:
- Synthroid or Tirosint (Levothyroxine)
- Cytomel (Liothyronine)
- Nature-Throid or Thyroid Armour (Desiccated Thyroid)
How Does Nature-Throid Cure Hypothyroidism?
As the name would suggest, Nature-Throid is made with natural ingredients, specifically the hormones are derived from dried pig thyroid. This hormone replacement therapy is recommended to those who require a gluten-free option and prefer no food artificial additives in their medication. For those with specific food allergies, it is also free of any soy, yeast, egg, fish or shellfish, corn, peanuts, or rice. It also comes in a wide variety of strength which makes it easier to get the exact dosage of hormones you need. Talk to your doctor before taking any kind of thyroid hormone replacement medication to prevent side effects and overdosing.
Hypothyroidism: Should I Take Iodine Supplements?
No, you should not take iodine supplements. Iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, but generally, a lack of salt in a person’s diet is usually not the cause of the condition. Most people do not have a problem consuming enough salt in a day to prevent hypothyroidism. In fact, we tend to eat too much salt which can cause other health problems. Therefore, do not take iodine supplements when hypothyroidism occurs unless directly ordered to by your doctor.
Hypothyroidism Management Tips
There are natural and over-the-counter remedies you can use to balance thyroid hormone levels. In terms of supplements, taking Selenium, vitamin D, and probiotics may help reduce symptoms when hypothyroidism occurs. But talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplement as it may interact with any ongoing hypothyroidism treatment you are currently taking. A balanced healthy diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is the best way to stabilize a thyroid hormone imbalance. However, you should avoid foods high in fiber and things that contain soy because these foods may interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone medication. A gluten-free and sugar-free diet has also been shown to reduce symptoms when hypothyroidism occurs.
To learn more about why does hypothyroidism occur, visit our blog to discover helpful health advice and treatment suggestions.