The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ in the front of the throat, between and just above the collarbones. This strange and delicate organ plays a vital role in the body, producing two thyroid hormones which work together to maintain the metabolism, digestive system and aid other bodily systems to work at optimal levels. There are various conditions which can affect the functioning of the thyroid: cancer, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s Disease, and others. But the results of all thyroid ailments can usually be divided into two groups.
Hyper- and Hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is what it is called when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is the opposite: there is too little thyroid hormone production happening. There is neither a cure or a long-term treatment for hyperthyroidism, and instead the thyroid is usually operated upon – sometimes being removed entirely – to force it to dramatically reduce or stop hormone production. This means that someone with hyperthyroidism will end up with the opposing condition: hypothyroidism. But this is often a deliberate action because hypothyroidism can be treated very successfully over the long term.
Treatments for Thyroid Conditions
Treatment is generally through one or more of the following mediations, most of which require a trial period before your optimum dosage is arrived upon. If you are taking thyroid medications, check here to find out about signs that thyroid medication is too low in this guide.
Natural and Synthetic Hormone Replacement
Natural thyroid medications. These are derived from animal thyroids and use naturally produced thyroid hormone, processed and made suitable for human use. The two main atural thyroid medications are:
- Desiccated Thyroid
Synthetic thyroid medications. These are artificial compounds which mimic the effect of natural thyroid hormones.
- Levothyroxine. Also called synthetic thyroxine, this substance is chemically identical to T4, the thyroid hormone produced in the body
- Liothyronine. A stand-in for triiodothyronine, this is chemically identical to T3, a more concentrated form of thyroid hormone. With a normally functioning thyroid, the body creates T3 from the naturally secreted T4. This medication is prescribed for those whose thyroid cannot produce T3 from their own T4.
- Liotrix. This is a carefully balanced blend of T3 and T4 in a 1:4 balance. Your dosage may vary depending on your age, height and other factors, but that ratio remains unchanged.
These treatments do require a trial and error period as you and your doctor work out the best dose for your body. It is important to pay careful attention to how you feel and to take your medications exactly as desired during these first few days, to ensure that your doctor has the best chance of working out the right dose for you. During these early days, you will have to get your blood tested once or twice a week while the dosage is tweaked – and you may feel ill during this period too. But do persist with it: once your hormone levels are properly balanced once again, you will be eating and sleeping better, as well as being indefinably much more healthy.