Managing an Underactive Thyroid

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Tess Thompson

Hypothyroidism is a medical term used to describe an under-active thyroid. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that aid life-sustaining biological processes within the body. Inadequate quantities of thyroid hormones like thyroxine (T4) triiodothyronine (T3) and calcitonin disturb the metabolic rate of the body and increase calcium levels in the blood plasma, which can adversely affect bone formation.

Most of the symptoms of an under-active thyroid are produced by a slow metabolic rate, which may be very difficult to notice in mild thyroid conditions. This is because symptoms like fatigue, constipation, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, dry skin and hair and abnormal flow during menstruation are liable to be associated with conditions other than thyroid problems. At the same time, thyroid problems are not easily decipherable unless specific blood tests are performed.

The first step in managing an under-active thyroid is actually to get a proper diagnosis to avoid mistreatment. All you need to do is to take your morning temperature for some days. If it is regularly below 97d degrees or 96 degrees F, you should report the condition to a physician.

Treatment of an under-active thyroid involves providing thyroid support with the use of a thyroid supplement to make up the deficiency. As the body has probably gotten accustomed to a slower metabolic rate, a sudden increase due to a supplemental thyroid hormone may cause other problems like causing the heart to work faster. High dosage should thus be avoided if there is a history of prevalence of cardiovascular diseases like angina.

Regular follow-up with blood tests is necessary to check levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary gland. High levels of TSH mean that the thyroid is still not producing enough thyroxine and the pituitary gland is unnecessarily working harder to stimulate production.

Iodine is necessary for production of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency may have to be addressed through dietary modifications or herbs for the thyroid that contain adequate amounts of iodine.

Chronic stress plays an important role in thyroid health. The stress response is mainly about the release of extra hormones by the endocrine system. Maintaining continuously high levels of stress hormones can greatly disturb the release of thyroid hormones. Stress management may be as necessary as managing an under-active thyroid.

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