Fatigued or Full Throttle: Is Your Thyroid to Blame?
Understanding Thyroid Problems -- Symptoms and Treatments
How Is Hyperthyroidism Treated?
Hyperthyroidism is easily treated. With treatment, you can lead a healthy life. Without treatment, hyperthyroidism can lead to serious heart problems, bone problems, and a dangerous condition called thyroid storm.
If your symptoms bother you, your doctor may give you pills called beta-blockers. These can help you feel better while you and your doctor decide what your treatment should be. Even if your symptoms do not bother you, you still need treatment because hyperthyroidism can lead to more serious problems.
Radioactive iodine and anti-thyroid medicine are the treatments doctors use most often. The best treatment for you will depend on a number of things, including your age. Some people need more than one kind of treatment.
After treatment, you will need regular blood tests. These tests check to see if your hyperthyroidism has come back. They also check to see if you are making enough thyroid hormone. Sometimes treatment cures hyperthyroidism but causes the opposite problem-too little thyroid hormone. If this happens, you may need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of your life.
What Medicine Is Used for Hypothyroidism?
Doctors usually prescribe thyroid hormone pills to treat hypothyroidism. Most people start to feel better within a week or two. Your symptoms will probably go away within a few months. But you will likely need to keep taking the pills for the rest of your life.
In most cases, thyroid hormone medication works quickly to correct symptoms. People with hypothyroidism who take thyroid hormone medication usually notice:
- Improved energy level
- Gradual weight loss (in people with severe hypothyroidism at the time of diagnosis)
- Improved mood and mental function (thinking, memory)
- Improved pumping action of the heart and improved digestive tract function
- Reduction in the size of an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), if you have one
- Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
It's important to take your medicine just the way your doctor tells you to. You will also need to see your doctor for follow-up visits to make sure you have the right dose. Getting too much or too little thyroid hormone can cause problems.
If you have mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism, you may not need treatment now. But you'll want to watch closely for signs that it is getting worse.
Thyroid Disease or Menopause?
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), millions of women with unresolved menopausal-like symptoms, even those taking estrogen, may be suffering from undiagnosed thyroid disease. While symptoms such as fatigue, depression, mood swings, and sleep disturbances are frequently associated with menopause, they may also be signs of hypothyroidism.
A survey done by the AACE showed that only one in four women who have discussed menopause and its symptoms with a physician was also tested for thyroid disease. The thyroid plays a role in regulating overall body metabolism and influences the heart, brain, kidney, and reproductive system, along with muscle strength and appetite.
If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause and the symptoms persist despite appropriate therapy, ask your doctor to do a thyroid screen (TSH). A blood sample is all that is needed to make the initial diagnosis of hypothyroidism and treatment is easily achieved with thyroid replacement therapy.