A simple guide to get your thyroid health back on track
There’s a whole lot to know and learn when you’re first diagnosed with a thyroid condition.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but there are simple and effective underactive thyroid treatments to get you back to feeling like your old self again.
If you have an underactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism) you may have been feeling run down, lethargic or breathless. You may also have experienced weight gain or fluid retention.
These symptoms have a huge impact on your quality of life, so speaking to your doctor and accessing the right treatment for you is extremely important.Find out more about #underactivethyroid treatments and how to get your #thyroidhealth back on track. Click To Tweet
How do I know if I need underactive thyroid treatment?
As we’ve covered in a previous article, underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t release enough hormones into the bloodstream.
Professor Creswell Eastman AM from the Australian Thyroid Foundation’s medical advisory board says thyroid hormone affects every tissue in the body.
“It is an essential ingredient from conception right up until the time you die. It works on all tissues throughout all of the body, at all ages.”
Without enough thyroid hormone, your body starts to slow down. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue and low energy, depression, unexplained weight gain, sensitivity to cold and constipation, among other things.
If you’ve taken a thyroid blood test – which checks the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood – and the results were outside the healthy range, your doctor is likely to do further tests and possibly recommend treatment.
A high level of TSH in your blood indicates an underactive thyroid. That’s because your pituitary gland produces more TSH when it’s trying to stimulate your thyroid gland into making more thyroid hormone.
Although thyroid problems are often diagnosed by a GP, they’re often treated by an endocrinologist (someone who specialises in glands and hormones).
Once your treatment has started, your GP will usually work with you in the ongoing management of your condition.
What thyroid medication is available?
Treatment for hypothyroidism usually involves oral medication, known as thyroxine, to replace the thyroid hormone.
Levothyroxine – a pure synthetic form of thyroxine – is often prescribed to treat an underactive thyroid.
This treatment works to restore your hormone levels, and should begin to reverse the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The medicine comes in multiple strengths, so your doctor may start you on a lower dose and adjust this monthly until you reach the best level of hormone replacement for you.
It’s also important to take thyroxine medications on an empty stomach, preferably first thing in the morning because some foods can interfere with how your body absorbs the hormone.The most common treatment for an #underactivethyroid is oral medication, known as #thyroxine #thyroidtreatments Click To Tweet
How do I know if I’m on the right dose?
Your doctor will want to monitor your thyroid levels with regular blood tests to measure the amount of TSH circulating in your blood.
You might need monthly blood tests at first and then annual tests to make sure your dosage is correct.
Too much of the replacement hormone can also cause side effects similar to hyperthyroidism, such as:
- increased appetite
- heart palpitations
Sometimes, the right dose of replacement hormone is difficult to pinpoint. In these cases, you may need to have a physical exam and/or more frequent blood tests.
Are there other options instead of having a blood test?
The thought of regular needle-in-vein blood tests can be a bit confronting for some people. For others, it’s just one more medical or pathology appointment to squeeze into an already busy schedule.
That’s where MyHealthTest can help. The MyHealthTest Thyroid (TSH) Test is a simple, fingerprick blood test that can be done easily and conveniently from home.
You order the test service online and receive a collection kit in the post. You then collect your fingerprick blood sample at home and post it back to our lab. A few days later, you can access the results online (via a secure website) and share and discuss these results with your doctor if you wish.
You can also track your results over time, to check how changes in your thyroid medication levels are affecting you.
If you have trouble finding time to get to the GP or pathology centre, live in a rural or remote area or have a fear of needles, a fingerprick blood test may be a good option.
Don’t be shy about how you feel
If you’re taking thyroid medication, it’s important to be upfront with your doctor about how you’re feeling and if anything changes.
The goal of hypothyroidism treatment is to make you feel better, so your body stays as healthy as possible and functions at its best.
It’s important to give your doctor regular feedback on how you are feeling on the medication and to raise any symptoms or concerns you may have.
Make sure you are seeing a GP and/or endocrinologist you find easy to talk to and work together to develop a treatment plan that works best for you.If you’re taking #thyroid medication, speak to your doctor about how you’re feeling and if anything changes. Click To Tweet
Over to you: do you have any thoughts to share about underactive thyroid treatments? Please comment on this post in the box below.
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