Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland, located in the neck, does not produce sufficient amounts of critical hormones (known as TSH hormones) for the body. Low TSH levels can cause a number of symptoms that may seem vague. Although anyone can develop this condition, studies indicate that some people are at higher risk for hypothyroidism.
The typical treatment for hypothyroidism is the administration of synthetic hormones. These hormones are usually administered orally under the brand names of Levothroid, Synthroid, and others. This synthetic hormone treatment does not boost hormone production levels in the thyroid; rather, it meets the shortcomings that exist in the levels necessary for normal function. Treatment usually takes one to two weeks before patients begin noticing a reduction in symptoms. Synthetic hormones can help to reduce general fatigue and any metabolic changes experienced as a result of hypothyroidism, including weight gain. Hypothyroidism is typically a chronic disease where individuals need to continuously received hormone doses, similar to diabetes and insulin intake. However, the amount of hormones that your body requires may change with time. Therefore, your doctor may schedule repeated visits to test hormone levels in order to confirm the precise dosage or hormone treatment that is best.
Absorption of Synthetic Hormones
Various medications, vitamin supplements and even foods can affect your body’s ability to absorb, or even actively counteract, the hormones of your treatment option. These medications and supplements include:
- Aluminum hydroxide (found in antacids)
- Iron supplements
- Calcium supplements
There is varying medical contention on the effects of soy upon hormone absorption. Soy contains organic compounds that act as estrogens. Some studies suggest that eating a diet that is high in soy may cause different interactions in hormones, though this is debated. It is best to speak to your doctor about your treatment plan if you consume a diet high in soy or fiber.
Determining Proper Dosage
Determining the proper hormone dosage for treatment is not particularly difficult, though it is vitally necessary. Your doctor will typically test you two to three times over the course of one to two months to determine your level of the hormone TSH. If you have any type of heart disease, your doctor may begin with a smaller dosage and gradually increase the amount of hormone in your treatment so your heart can better adjust to changes in your metabolism.
It is important that, while on your medication, you continue to take it even after you feel that your symptoms are diminished. Stopping treatment or skipping doses can lead to the gradual return of hypothyroidism onset as this can lead to inconsistent hormone levels.