Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Causes and Symptoms
- 3 Tests
- 4 Treatment
- 5 Tips for Living with Thyroid Imbalances
- 6 Conclusion
Thyroid Disease can be a life changing experience.
It is mysterious. It is debilitating, yet, someone with thyroid disease may look well.
Thyroid disease is commonly misunderstood by family, friends, and employers.
One thing is for sure, thyroid disease can seriously alter the quality of life for the patient.
Causes and Symptoms
There are many causes of thyroid disease.
The main causes are Autoimmune (Hashimoto’s Disease), Graves Disease and a recent discovery of Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome, which attacks most of the body’s endocrine organs.
Others include radiation exposure, pregnancy, thyroid cancer, surgery to remove the thyroid, or simply nutrition imbalances.
The common symptoms of thyroid disease are fatigue, muscle and joint pain, weight gain or loss, dry brittle thinning hair, and intolerance to heat or cold.
Also, nodule(s) or a goiter (mass) may develop on the thyroid. Thyroid nodules and goiters are most often benign, but it is important to have them checked.
Thyroid hormones affects the body’s metabolism and all of the body’s cells in one way or another. So, the symptoms may feel much worse to the sufferer than the appearance on the outside.
The medical community uses a measurement called TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone to check whether it falls into the ‘normal thyroid levels’.
If there is too little thyroid hormone, the TSH rises to stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormone.
If there is too much thyroid hormone, the TSH falls to tell the thyroid to slow down its production of hormones.
There are also two key hormones T3 and T4 which the thyroid produces.
Another test to check levels are the Free T3 and Free T4 which measures the levels of actual circulating thyroid hormones in the blood.
Treatments for thyroid disease are not easy to regulate at first.
Patience is important when starting thyroid medication.
Medication affects all tissues in the body so it is important to notify the MD of all medical history especially other endocrine disease such as Addison’s disease (Adrenal), Diabetes, Kidney and Heart Disease.
Someone with these diseases may need lower doses of thyroid medication than normal.
There are two main types of thyroid treatment options.
The most common is synthetic T4, (Synthroid/levothyroxine, Levothroid), which the body converts into the more active form T3 as needed.
There is also a Synthetic T3, (Cytomel) that can be taken alone or with a small amount of synthetic T4 to mimic the thyroid glands natural production of hormones. Patients must be aware that synthetic T3 is a lot more potent than T4 and the effects will be felt a lot sooner.
Less common is desiccated thyroid – Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid. It is actual dried, crushed thyroid gland extracted from a pig, bovine or sheep.
It is mixed carefully into the right amounts of T4/T3 and made into pill form.
Some doctors have been steered away from its use due to claims that the amounts of hormone are too hard to regulate. This is controversial and up to the patient to research and find a doctor privy to its use. The upside is some patients do state they feel more “normal” on a desiccated hormone.
For more information about this, see our article, Complete Overview of Armour Thyroid and Synthroid here.
During the time thyroid hormones are being regulated, patients can feel gravely ill.
They may experience swelling, extreme fatigue, low blood pressure, low pulse, low temperature and weight loss or gain. It may be very hard to perform routine normal daily tasks or even get out of bed some days.
It is important to understand that once the levels are right these symptoms do get better. When increasing a dose some may even experience migraine headaches.
There is also another option in thyroid supplements.
There is no prescription required for these.
The way these thyroid supplements works is by providing the thyroid with vitamins, minerals, and herbs for thyroid health that have been proven to increase thyroid hormone production and synthesis.
Many patients with depleted nutrients report feeling a lot more energized after taking these supplements for some time. See our list here for the most popular thyroid supplements.
Tips for Living with Thyroid Imbalances
Take prescription medications at the same time each day, preferably in the morning.
Take with a full glass of water one hour before breakfast. Even better is to set an alarm and take thyroid medications between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. and go back to sleep.
This mimics the body’s diurnal rhythm of hormone production.
Separate medication four hours from calcium or iron. These bind the hormone rendering it more difficult to absorb thyroid hormones.
If you use thyroid supplements, take them with your breakfast or as directed on the supplement bottle.
Keep a journal of your basal temperatures.
Take your temp first thing every morning and write it down.
When thyroid levels are optimal first morning temps should be above 97.0 and below 99.0.
It is also helpful to note your dose and any symptoms you are experiencing.
Months down the road if you don’t feel well, you can check back in your journal and know if you might need and increase or decrease in medication.
Get plenty of rest.
Exercise is good, but it may be necessary to take frequent rest breaks. If your body is low on hormone there is not enough energy to go around.
Give yourself some time to to recover from low levels. Likewise, if your thyroid levels are too high you may feel fatigue from muscles overworking themselves.
Educate your family, friends and employer.
Do your homework and learn.
Read our articles on this website and join a support group. There are many people out there just like you who are willing to share their personal stories.
Make sure to eat right every day.
Take a good thyroid supplement that includes Selenium for hormone conversion.
Thyroid disease has its ups and downs; some patients compare it to a “rollercoaster ride”.
There is hope for those suffering from thyroid disease.
With proper education, nutrition and understanding of the disease and medications, patients can live a normal and healthy life.