The thyroid gland produces two main hormones; triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 hormones regulate the body’s metabolism, meaning your metabolism slows down if you don’t have a sufficient level of these hormones. Your metabolic rate affects how quickly you process food, how fast your heart beats, how much energy your body generates, and even how quickly you can think.
Thyroid hormone therapy refers to the use of synthetic thyroid hormones to treat hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces little or no hormones. Hypothyroidism can be caused by a functional deficiency, primary atrophy, a partially or entirely missing thyroid gland, surgery, radiation, or certain medications. Pure synthetic thyroxine (T4) is the most widely administered thyroid hormone replacement (T4).
What are the benefits of thyroid hormone replacement therapy?
This type of treatment can help the thyroid gland perform critical metabolic functions in the body, including regulating how your body uses energy, heart rate, and sexual development. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can also alleviate many hypothyroidism symptoms, such as:
- Weight gain
- Difficulty focusing throughout the day
- Dehydrated Skin
- Feeling cold
- Fluid retention
- Muscle and joint pain
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding in women
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is also used to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Goitre (enlarged thyroid gland)
- Nodules growth
- Compensating for the lack of hormone production after thyroid removal for benign or malignant disease
How to determine the appropriate dosage for thyroid hormone replacement?
Your endocrinologist will order detailed blood test to determine the exact dose of hormone replacement therapy. These blood tests can show thyroid hormone levels in blood and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced naturally by the pituitary gland. High TSH readings may suggest that your thyroid is underactive or that your thyroid hormone replacement dosage needs to be boosted.
Please note that hypothyroidism is a disorder that can worsen over time. Thus, your doctor may increase the dosage with time.
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy management tips
Consider the following guidelines to ensure that your thyroid hormone replacement works properly:
- Continue to see your doctor every 6–8 weeks to help your doctor adjust the dosage until it is right for you, check your therapy progress, and avoid any complications.
- Take your thyroid medication and any calcium or iron supplements at least 1 hour before breakfast. Your doctor may also suggest taking medication before sleeping or 3 hours after eating or taking calcium or iron supplements, according to your daily schedule.
- Refrigerate hormone medications to keep the T4 level in the tablets stable. Some T4 medications do not require refrigeration; consult your doctor or pharmacist for more information about storing conditions.
- Make sure to inform your doctor about your thyroid condition and medication dosage before starting treatment for any other disease.
- Notify your doctor in the case of pregnancy to take precautionary measures.
- Inform your healthcare provider if any new symptoms develop.
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