How Are Thyroid Problems Treated
Your thyroid gland is responsible for physiological functions like:
- Temperature control
- Metabolic rate
- Immune defense
These responses rely on specific hormonal releases from the body to function properly. When something in that release system goes wrong, it can trigger of biological dominoes effect that all comes back to thyroid problems.
There are several steps patients can take to remedy their thyroid problems; starting with getting their thyroid function tested.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
A blood panel can tell doctors a fair amount about your physiological function, but to diagnose thyroid problems early, you may want to speak to an endocrinologist if you suspect there is a malfunction in your thyroid.
The standard blood panel run by general practitioners checks for spikes in your TSH and T4 hormone levels. The only normal that is tested directly as part of the panel is T4. This spike actually happens quite late in the thyroid condition timetable. That’s why, you’d be better off going to a specialist in getting your thyroid hormone levels tested directly.
An endocrinologist will test five different areas of your thyroid health in order to locate particular thyroid problems. Once the results of the tests come back, a customized treatment protocol can be developed based on that information.
The two most common treatment options are:
- Synthetic hormone replacement therapy
- Iodine supplements
It is important to note that these treatments may not work for all thyroid problems, but they are a good starting point to stabilize hormone levels in the body.
Iodine and beta blockers are sometimes used in conjunction with each other to shrink the gland down to its normal size and maintain a constant heart rate to reduce the release of stress and anxiety hormones, which can aggravate thyroid problems.
Removing the Problem
There are cases where the imbalance that is occurring has more to do with the gland itself then hormones it releases. If the gland is diseased and medication resistant due to the effects of cancer or other health problems, it may need to be almost fully removed.
The removal process is quick, but the recovery is not. Patients are usually put on hormone replacement therapies and they enter a limbo period while waiting for their levels stabilize and their condition to become manageable. If a loved one is currently recovering from a thyroidectomy, it’s a good idea for their loved ones to find a local support group to make it through the post-surgical adjustment.
There are also natural alternatives to hormone replacement and iodine supplements, but use caution when considering these options. Always tell your doctor the medications you are taking, even the natural ones. Staying well informed is key to condition management.