Hypothyroidism - Treatment Overview
Initial treatment continued...
If you have severe hypothyroidism by the time you are diagnosed, you will need immediate treatment. Severe, untreated hypothyroidism can cause myxedema coma, a rare, life-threatening condition.
Treatment during pregnancy is especially important, because hypothyroidism can harm the developing fetus.
- If you develop hypothyroidism during pregnancy, treatment should be started immediately. If you have hypothyroidism before you become pregnant, your thyroid hormone levels need to be checked to make sure that you have the right dose of thyroid medicine. During pregnancy, your dose of medicine may need to be increased by 25% to 50%.5
- If you develop hypothyroidism after pregnancy (postpartum hypothyroidism), you also may need treatment. You will be retested for hypothyroidism if you become pregnant again. In some cases hypothyroidism will go away on its own. In other cases it is permanent and requires lifelong treatment.
You are likely to need treatment for hypothyroidism from now on. As a result, you need to take your medicine as directed. For some people, hypothyroidism gets worse as they age and the dosage of thyroid medicine may have to be increased gradually as the thyroid continues to slow down.
Most people treated with thyroid hormone develop symptoms again if their medicine is stopped. If this occurs, medicine needs to be restarted.
If a serious illness or infection triggers your hypothyroidism, your thyroid function most likely will return to normal when you recover. To check whether thyroid function has returned to normal, thyroid hormone medicine may be stopped for a short time. In most people, a brief period of hypothyroidism occurs after thyroid medicine is stopped. There is often a delay in the body's signals that tell the thyroid to start working again. If the thyroid can produce enough hormone on its own, treatment is no longer needed. But if hormone levels remain too low, you need to restart thyroid medicine.
While taking thyroid hormone medicine, you need to see your doctor once a year for checkups. You will have a blood test (thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH] test) to make sure you have a normal hormone level.