Understanding Thyroid Management
There are as many as 200 million people worldwide that have thyroid issues which are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The thyroid gland plays a key role in your metabolism and overall health, and also helps control your weight, heart rate, mood and energy level. Having an undiagnosed thyroid condition could lead to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, depression or anxiety, hair loss, infertility, sexual dysfunction and much more. The most important of these thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Symptoms of thyroid disease may be present for years before lab abnormalities in these levels are seen.
Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism in Men
When the thyroid produces too many hormones, this is known as an overactive thyroid (or hyperthyroidism). Hyperthyroidism affects about 1.2 percent of the U.S. population. The condition is more common in women than men and is more likely to be diagnosed over the age of 60. It is often caused by an autoimmune disorder known as Graves’ disease.
Failure to treat hyperthyroidism can result in an increase in metabolic rate, which leads to undesirable symptoms. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include frequent heart palpitations, sweating, anxiety, weight loss, heat intolerance, and muscle weakness. Patients with heart disease and diabetes are at a greater risk of complications associated with an overactive thyroid. Radioactive iodine and anti-thyroid medications are the most common ways to treat hyperthyroidism. Removing the thyroid gland via surgery (known as a thyroidectomy) is another option, although that is usually done when other options have been proven unsuccessful.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, is by far more common. In fact, some estimate that as many as 1 in 7 adults suffer from hypothyroidism. The disorder tends to affect women more than men. Hypothyroid symptoms come on slowly as the thyroid gland produces fewer and fewer of the hormones necessary to keep the metabolism operating effectively. In the earliest stages of the disease, few patients notice symptoms, as the symptoms seem like the normal side effects of stress. However, over time, these symptoms like weight gain and fatigue can quickly add up and become serious health issues that include obesity, infertility and joint pain.
Treatment for Thyroid Imbalances
Your thyroid treatment plan begins with comprehensive lab testing that examines TSH, T3, T4 levels and thyroid antibodies. Your physician will also discuss your symptoms and how your lifestyle has been affected since symptoms began. This information will help your physician develop a tailored treatment plan that not only includes precise hormone therapy involving bioidentical hormones, but also nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to maximize your results and enhance overall health and well-being.
Once thyroid levels have been assessed, there are a number of treatment options for correcting hypothyroidism. Typically, most thyroid hormone replacement options consist of some form of synthetic T4 (levothyroxine sodium) or desiccated thyroid. The most common forms of levothyroxine include Synthroid, Tirosint, and Levoxyl. The most common forms of desiccated thyroid are Nature-Throid, and Armour Thyroid.
Thyroid disorder treatments may include iodine supplements, thyroid replacement hormones, and even desiccated thyroid hormone from animals. Again, hypothyroidism is usually treated with synthetic T4 (levothyroxine), which can correct your T4 and TSH levels. However, many people cannot efficiently convert T4 to T3. This is a problem because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormone. Even if your T4 and TSH levels are optimal, a decreased T3 level may still cause symptoms.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Imbalance
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