Hypothyroidism Treatments: Medications, Supplements

A lack of iodine in the everyday diet is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism globally. Iodized salt that is nowadays consumed almost everywhere has iodine content in the form of sodium iodide. Natural sources of iodine are seaweed and milk products. While iodine supplements will compensate for the shortage, they may increase the risks. Goiter, hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, thyroiditis, and gastrointestinal upset may result from wrong medications.

Maintaining optimum iodine levels

  • The small thyroid gland sits at the base of the throat. The pituitary gland generates a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and the thyroid responds by releasing T3 and T4.

  • Above the age of 18 years, a daily dose of 150 mcg is required. Pregnancy and breastfeeding women need much higher levels, at least 50% higher.

  • Iodine is essential because of its natural effects on thyroid hormones. Iodine affects TSH and T3 and T4 hormones. Goiter or an enlarged thyroid gland is the result of insufficient iodine. TSH cannot get the thyroid to produce more hormones without iodine.

  • In Hypothyroidism, iodine either suppresses hormone production or excessive hormone is produced.

  • Hypothyroidism results from inadequate thyroid production of triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). When T3 and T4 are in short supply, primary hypothyroidism results. Secondary hypothyroidism happens when TSH is very little. The symptoms are usually fatigue, body pain, palpitations, and irregular menstrual cycles.

  • While no cure exists, control and management are possible.

Synthetic Substitutes

The most common treatment for hypothyroidism uses synthetic versions of thyroid hormones. For T3, the synthetic versions are Liothyronine (Cytomel, Tertroxin). The substitutes for T4 are levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl). Along with iodine supplements, the doctor usually advises magnesium and selenium supplements.

Diet Recommendations

The medications would undoubtedly be required and dietary changes would help. Nuts and seeds help the thyroid function. Sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts are examples of high selenium and magnesium content. Along with iron and calcium, aim for a high-fiber diet. Avoid soy-based foods since they reduce thyroid action. Other foods like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli also curtail thyroid function. They are best avoided. 

Lead an active and energetic lifestyle

Medications should be followed up with active lifestyles. Exhausted feelings and depression that happen often to such patients may be counteracted with exercise. Aches will vanish. Walking and swimming are some low-intensity activities that can be done each day. Muscle building through weightlifting can get rid of lethargy. Protect the heart with regular exercise.

Alternative Therapies

Among some patients, turning towards nature according to temperaments and interests may help. Yoga and meditation along with hypnosis are some ways to counteract depression and fatigue. Special diets also help. Stress and weight gain are some effects too. Care should be used about taking iodine that might make the problem worse. Vitamin D and calcium supplements too need to be taken with caution.

Adjusting Dosage Levels

Synthetic thyroxine is taken every day on an empty stomach in the morning. Wait for 30 minutes before eating. Avoid missing the daily dose. If a dose is missed, don’t take a double dose.

Youngsters and the aged require smaller doses. Based on weight and blood test results (TSH and free T4), the doctor prescribes a suitable dose but is more complex. A blood test after 6 weeks of the medicine will indicate if the hormones are getting normal. Dosage changes may be suggested before waiting another 6 weeks to confirm. After hormones become stable, a test may be done after 6 months or annually.

Combined Synthetic T3 and T4 Hormones

Synthetic T4 alone usually suffices and the combined medication is not needed. Synthetic T4 is enough because the thyroid can convert it to T3 according to need.

Hazardous Hypothyroidism Treatments

Play it safe and avoid potentially risky treatments. One is a natural supplement derived from pigs and also from cows. The idea seems attractive but many differences between human and animal thyroids make it risky. Dried animal thyroid supplements are best avoided. The thyroid may lose its balance since it is not known what the T3 and T4 levels are.

Similarly, calcium supplements may interfere with thyroid medications. Iron supplements may also interfere with the thyroid medications.

Essentials for Healthy Thyroid Functioning

  • The mineral Selenium is crucial for thyroid hormone production. Selenium protects the thyroid from oxidative stress. The thyroid gland in the throat has significant amounts of selenium. The thyroid cannot function properly if selenium is lacking.

  • Iodine globally supports thyroid function. Iodine helps thyroid hormone production. The 2 Thyroid hormones are Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). They contain iodine. A lack of iodine leads to thyroid disease.

  • The zinc mineral is also required for proper hormone production. Optimum levels of T3, T4, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are possible with ample zinc.

  • Iron is needed in the conversion process from T4 to T3. The active hormone is T3. Lacking iron will lead to thyroid problems.

  • Vitamins A and E and B vitamins are other essential nutrient needs. A deficiency in any of these leads to thyroid problems.

Congenital Hypothyroidism

Newborns may experience a severe form of hypothyroidism that is called cretinism. The chronic deficiency stunts growth and interferes with the nerves, causing physical deformities. Maybe the mother had little iodine during pregnancy or the baby has a problem with the thyroid gland. Brain, growth, and development require iodine. After iodized salt became the norm, only some such cases are reported in developed countries. Backward countries still suffer from iodine shortages.

Care is required regarding treatments for hypothyroidism. Medical specialists are best suited to decide the medications and doses. Delicate thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s, Graves', and thyroid cancer must be treated with great caution.

In most cases, a healthy nutritionally balanced diet of whole foods supplies all the essential requirements for a healthy thyroid. If problems arise and medications and supplements become necessary, proceed slowly and carefully with the healthcare professionals. Avoid getting depressed and lead an active lifestyle. Turn to natural treatments like yoga and meditation if so interested. Many live with thyroid problems that involve control and management without a cure.