Hypothyroidism, symptoms and treatment are as follows:
When thyroid hormone levels are too low, the body’s cells can’t get enough thyroid hormone and the body’s processes start slowing down. As the body slows, you may notice some or all symptoms of feeling colder, you tire more easily, your skin is getting drier, you’ve become forgetful and depressed, and you’ve started getting constipated. Because the symptoms are so variable, the only way to know for sure whether you have hypothyroidism is with blood tests. Tell your family members, because thyroid disease runs in families, you should explain your hypothyroidism to your relatives and encourage them to get regular TSH tests. Tell your other doctors and your pharmacist about your hypothyroidism and the drug and dose with which it is being treated. If you start seeing a new doctor, tell the doctor that you have hypothyroidism and you need your TSH tested every year. If you are seeing an endocrinologist, ask that copies of your reports be sent to your primary care doctor. Hypothyroidism may become more or less severe, and your dose of thyroxine may need to change over time. You have to make a lifetime commitment to treatment. But if you take your pills every day and work with your doctor to get and keep your thyroxine dose correct, you should be able to keep your hypothyroidism completely controlled throughout your lifetime. Your symptoms should disappear and the serious effects of low thyroid hormone should stop getting worse and should actually improve. If you keep your hypothyroidism well-controlled, it will not shorten your life span. You’ll need to have your TSH checked about every 6 to 10 weeks after a thyroxine dose change. You may need tests more often if you’re pregnant or you’re taking a medicine that interferes with your body’s ability to use thyroxine. The goal of treatment is to get and keep your TSH in the normal range. Babies must get all their daily treatments and have their TSH levels checked as they grow, to prevent mental retardation and stunted growth. Once you’ve settled into a thyroxine dose, you can return for TSH tests only about once a year.
You need to return sooner if any of the following apply to you:
- Your symptoms return or get worse
- You want to change your thyroxine dose or brand, or change taking your pills with or without food.
- You gain or lose a lot of weight (as little as a 10-pound difference for those who weren’t overweight to begin with)
- You start or stop taking a drug that can interfere with absorbing thyroxine, or you change your dose of such a drug.
- You’re not taking all your thyroxine pills. Tell your doctor honestly how many pills you have missed.
- You want to try stopping thyroxine treatment. If ever you think you’re doing well enough not to need thyroxine treatment any longer, try it only under your doctor’s close supervision. Rather than stopping your pills completely, you might ask your doctor to try lowering your dose. If your TSH goes up, you’ll know that you need to continue treatment.
American Thyroid Association ©2005