What is Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease is a condition in which the thyroid gland in the neck does not function properly and makes too little thyroid hormone. It can cause some degree of weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold all the time, constipation, and goiters.
Thyroid disease is a common disorder that affects around 10% of Americans. Thyroid disease can also be hereditary so it’s important to be aware of your family history if you think you might have the condition.
Many doctors recommend treatment if your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone on its own and you have symptoms such as weight loss or fatigue for more than six months.
How does the thyroid work?
Your thyroid is responsible for releasing and controlling thyroid hormones, which affect your metabolism. Your body’s ability to break down food into energy relies on this gland.
Your body uses energy throughout it to keep its many important systems working. Think of your metabolism like a generator, where the raw energy inside the body is converted into something bigger.
The thyroid releases a few specific hormones that control various processes in the body – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones are created by the thyroid and tell the body’s cells how much of each hormone it needs.
When your thyroid is working properly, it keeps the right amount of hormones in your body at all times to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. As these hormones are used up, the thyroid creates new ones.
The pituitary gland monitors and controls the amount of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream. It is housed in the central region of your brain, near the top of your head.
When thyroid function dips, the pituitary gland will release a hormone called TSH to increase levels to boost metabolism and end cells that do not need new nutrients. When the thyroid is working, it sends TSH to the body and tells it what needs to be done.
Who gets thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease can affect anyone — men, women, infants, teenagers or the elderly. It can occur at birth (typically with hypothyroidism) and it often develops after menopause in women.
A woman is about 5-8 times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man. We estimate that about 20 million people have thyroid disease in the United States alone.
You may be at an increased risk of developing a thyroid disease if you:
If you are experiencing your thyroid out of balance, or if someone in your family has a history of thyroid problems, talk to your doctor about treatment.
Take a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone).
People older than 60 are more at risk.
Previous radiation treatment or thyroidectomy.
What causes thyroid disease?
The guidelines for doctors following are to find out the causes of hypothyroidism. Some possible causes include:
Thyroiditis: This is an inflammation of the thyroid. You may have low levels of hormones when it does not work properly.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition that occurs when the body tries to attack its own cells & often causes fatigue, drowsiness, and nervousness. This is an inherited condition.
Postpartum thyroiditis: Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is a very serious condition that affects 5% to 9% of women after childbirth. It can be one of the most serious complications of pregnancy and may cause severe or life-threatening bleeding. It’s normally a temporary condition, but can become chronic in some cases as well.
Iodine deficiency: Iodine is used by the thyroid to produce hormones. An iodine deficiency is found in a number of people globally.
A non-functioning thyroid gland: If left untreated, thyroid problems can manifest themselves in both physical and mental issues later on. Newborns are routinely screened with a blood test to better identify the problem before it becomes severe.
Hyperthyroidism can cause a range of problems. Conditions that are common causes include:
Graves’ disease: Overactive thyroid gland is also called “diffuse toxic goiter” and this condition can lead to a host of problems if not treated.
Nodules: Hyperthyroidism can be caused by an overactive thyroid gland. It sometimes becomes called a toxic, multi-nodular goiter
Thyroiditis: In a person with thyroid disorder, the thyroid typically releases hormones that were stored there. The duration of time that this can last can last a few weeks or months.
Excessive iodine: If you consume excess iodine, you may experience an inability to process tyrosine. This flaw can cause an imbalance in your thyroid function that may result in a hypothyroidism condition. Some drugs or medications like amiodarone and cough syrups are high in iodine and can lead to this condition.
What are symptoms of thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease usually has two types of symptoms; those caused by an over-consumption of thyroid hormone and those caused by insufficient levels, such as hypothyroidism.
Not all symptoms may be apparent and it is important to look out for thyroid changes that may be causing your symptoms before making a diagnosis. We have gathered some of the common signs below:
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
Having trouble sleeping
Experiencing irregular or no periods or having your cycle stop
Experiencing anxiety, irritability & nervousness
Having a swollen thyroid gland or goiter
Tremors and muscle weakness
Sensitivity to heat
Symptoms that can be related to an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism) can include:
A lack of tolerance to cold temperatures
She has frequent periods
How are thyroid problems diagnosed?
It can be difficult to diagnose thyroid disease because the symptoms are easily confused with those of other conditions. You may experience similar symptoms when you’re pregnant, aging (which can lead to a condition called Grave’s disease), and you might develop it if you have Graves’ or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is possible to use tests to determine if you have a thyroid problem. These tests include:
With further research, you can now identify your chances of developing a thyroid condition. Blood tests are the most common way of measuring thyroid function and will give you an idea whether or not your gland is working properly. Blood tests can be done via a vein in your arm. They are used to see if you have the following:
Thyroid blood tests are used to diagnose thyroid disorders. Hyper- or hypothyroidism is a disorder in which you aren’t able to produce enough hormones and there can be an over production that does not allow the body to function properly. These include:
The specific blood tests that will be done to test your thyroid can include a TSH, FT4, and T3.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that regulates the balance of thyroid hormones — including T4 and T3. This can be done by diagnosing an imbalance of them.
Thyroid hormone deficiency (hypothyroidism) is often associated with an elevated TSH level and thyroid hormone excess (hyperthyroidism) with a low TSH level.
If your TSH is abnormal, measurement of thyroid hormones may be done to further evaluate the problem. This includes thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
The normal range of blood thyroid function is 0.4-4.5 mIU/mL.
A T4 test measures the thyroid hormones (thyroxine or thyroids) and is used to monitor treatment of thyroid disorders or check for hypo or hyperthyroidism. The normal range for an adult is 5.0-11.0 g/dL.
FT4: Free T4 or free thyroxine is a measurement of the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. This test eliminates the effect of proteins in your blood which may prevent accurate measurement. The normal range for FT4 for an adult is 0.9 – 1.7 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter)
The test determines your thyroid hormone levels and helps diagnose hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism and the severity for both cases. The low T3 level can be observed in the hypothyroidism, but this test is more commonly used in the diagnosis and management of hyperthyroidism (Pituitary as well as other causes). T3 range is approximately 100-200 ng/dL.
FT3 is used to measure T3. FT3 should always be measured free of binding proteins that can affect the accuracy of the test, so an FT3 range of 2.3 – 4.1 pg/mL is usual.
These tests don’t diagnose any diseases, but they may prompt your doctor to perform additional testing.
The thyroid works by hormonal means, so a physical exam is not the best option for checking your thyroid function. However, it’s still useful to know what’s going on your body and can see if there are any potential causes for some symptoms.
When it comes to your thyroid, often, looking at it can give you a lot more information than just asking. One way your healthcare provider might assess the condition is by doing an imaging test called a thyroid scan. This helps them see how big or small the gland is and whether or not there are any changes in shape or growth.
An imaging test that can display the structural/functional properties of a subject is called an ultrasound. This test uses high frequency sounds inaudible to humans and detects echoes from inside the body. On-screen images are seen or heard after these echoes are recorded.
Fine needle aspiration is a technique that pulls cells or tissue from a part of the thyroid, typically for examination and diagnosis by a pathologist. A pathologist receives specialized medical training to diagnose disorders using samples submitted by their patients. Fine needle aspiration can be performed in the doctor’s office. Sometimes, the procedure is guided by ultrasound imaging. When a biopsy is performed, it’s done through surgery and cells are removed for testing.
Types of Thyroid Treatment
There are two types of thyroid treatment – medication and surgery. It is important to understand the pros and cons of each in order to choose the best course of action for you.
Medication: Medication is not as invasive as surgery, which means that it is often a good choice for those who want to avoid surgery or just want a more targeted approach. However, medication can be ineffective for some people, so it should only be used when absolutely necessary.
Surgery: Surgery is a more invasive treatment that often requires general anesthesia. The benefits include being able to treat all levels of thyroid cancer and reversing any previously taken medications or treatments. However, while there are many options available for both men and women, some surgeries require multiple procedures over time before they find their optimal results.
Types of Thyroid medications
Medications in the form of hormone replacement therapy are the most commonly used type for hypothyroidism. It is also used to target specific symptoms or strengthen the immune system.
Tapazole can be used in some cases to treat hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer patients who have completed radioactive-iodine therapy or chemotherapy.
To increase your thyroid hormone production, everyone who has hypothyroidism must take thyroid medication. Some factors that can exclude you from the group are temporary (e.g., thyroids) or reversible (e.g., autoimmune diseases).
Thyroid replacement medications aim to improve weight gain (wet) and mood/behavior during the day (dry), as well as improving heart and bone metabolism (mild).
The treatment of hypothyroidism can be difficult to manage and symptoms may come back despite control. Alleviate worsening symptoms by taking medical thyroid supplements, and if needed, use a natural remedy like an adaptogen herb.
TSH levels should be within the normal range.
Reduce the size of your thyroid if it is enlarged.
Levothyroxine, also called L-thyroxine, is a synthetic form of the T4 hormone. It must be converted into T3, which is the active hormone, to be used by your cells.
L-thyroxine is synthetic T3, which can be found under the brand name Cytomel and Triostat.
Experts recommend T4 monotherapy for treating hypothyroidism, which is not commonly prescribed due to the fact that it doesn’t require combination therapies like T4/T3.
Combination T4/T3 therapy may have many benefits for people with hypothyroidism. With so much research being done on the matter, you may be able to adapt to their care in the future. Stay on top of this information by reading up about it as well as other potential modifications in your treatment that are worth considering.
Natural Desiccated Thyroid
A prescription drug derived from the dried thyroid glands of pigs is also known as natural desiccated thyroid, or NDT. It contains both T4 and T3
Common brands of medications that are used for thyroid problems include Armour Thyroid and Nature-throid, and a generic is also available
Most endocrinologists or mainstream physicians do not support the use of natural desiccated thyroid drugs. The combination of both T4 and T3 into one formula doesn’t make it as effective.
NDT may be used for certain patients, but it is not recommended for all.
A person with hyperthyroidism has an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include feeling tired, having a fast heartbeat, and unexplained weight loss or gain. Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a wide variety of factors. One of the more common ways in which this happens is through Grave’s disease or an autoimmune disorder that causes high thyroid levels. Other less common causes include noncancerous and inflamed thyroid glands, and malfunctioning pituitaries which also work in tandem with thyroids to produce thyroid hormones.
It is true that Hashimoto’s disease can lead to hyperthyroidism. This is because the thyroid gland at one point in time was not producing enough thyroid hormone. So, the mind and body were not getting enough energy, as a result of which they had to switch their metabolic resources to less essential tasks in order for them to survive
The treatment of hyperthyroidism is generally more complex than hypothyroidism and needs to be treated with medication, surgery, &/or radiation therapy.
Radioactive iodine (RAI)
The gland in question is the thyroid, which, upon removal, has adverse effects on different systems of the body.
There are currently two approved medications for hyperthyroidism in the United States.
Tapazole (methimazole, or MMI)
This drug is known to prevent the thyroid from producing thyroxine, and is used mainly in situations when the thyroid doesn’t seem to be working properly. Tapazole has fewer side effects and can significantly reverse hyperthyroidism more quickly than PTU, making it the preferred anti-thyroid drug choice.
PTU inhibits the thyroid gland from using iodine, so they slow the overproduction of thyroid hormone. It also inhibits the conversion of thyroid hormone into T3. For PTU, patients are usually advised to take 2-3 doses a day and then use it whenever their levels need to be controlled.
PTU is only preferred for patients with the most severe cases of hyperthyroidism, namely pregnant women and people with a thyroid storm. Methimazo is considered the safer option in many other situations, due to its side effects being much milder.
Beta-blockers like Inderal are not typically used to treat hyperthyroidism, but rather symptoms of excess thyroid hormone on the body like a fast heart rate, tremor, and anxiety.
Thyroid Cancer Medications
Most thyroid cancers are treated by surgically removing the entire thyroid gland with the possibility of an individual also having their thyroid lobes removed in a process called a lobectomy.
After surgery, patients will require thyroid hormone replacement medications (levothyroxine) to supplement what they lost due to surgery. Suppressing tumor regrowth is very beneficial in many ways.
Levothyroxine, also known as synthroid, is used to treat underactive thyroid due to surgery or another reason. It is often prescribed for people who have been diagnosed with a cancer in the hypothalamus &/or thyroid. Depending on the extent of a person’s thyroid cancer and other factors, their doctor will determine what range is appropriate for TSH suppression. The levothyroxine dose is then changed according to their requirements.
It is important to suppress the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in order to prevent the cancer from returning.
For patients with large, oesophageal cancers, recurrent cancer or those deemed at high risk for recurrence, radioiodine therapy may be administered after surgery
Iodine is a common treatment for patients who have undergone thyroid surgery; it can be administered as a capsule or liquid, and its main purpose is to kill off any remaining cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is not usually used for thyroid cancer unless a person has recurrent or metastatic cancer. Chemotherapy is also used for the treatment of a rare type of thyroid cancer called anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Scientists have developed several drugs that are labeled as “targeted therapies” that target specific markers on cancer cells. These drugs have been used to treat advanced or resistant thyroid cancer.
A Word From Superior Compounding Pharmacy
With the help of knowledge, treatment for thyroid conditions like yours can be made manageable and even quick. The medications used are essential to having an optimal quality of life.
It is important that you continue to update your doctor on your progress. You should not hesitate to get the necessary treatment done, as thyroid conditions can either be cured or managed well. Several treatment options can be beneficial for patients who are facing challenging symptoms. Regardless of how the treatment is administered, it is ultimately up to the medical professional to determine what the most appropriate treatment course would be.
Please call Superior Compounding Pharmacy in Plymouth Michigan to speak with one of our licensed pharmacists today at 734-404-6065. We can help answer any medication questions that you may have.
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