Hypothyroidism occurs when one's thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormone on its own. In these situations, patients take medications to produce and balance their thyroid hormones synthetically. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which there is an overproduction of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.
Your thyroid hormone plays an important role in regulating metabolism and body temperature, so keeping your thyroid levels within a normal range is important.Thyroid hormone levels are also a significant consideration when someone has an underactive or overactive thyroid. In this article, we're going to discuss thyroid hormone, thyroid medication dosage, and thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
What does Thyroid Medication Do?
Thyroid medications for hypothyroidism are designed to supplement the thyroid hormone your body is not making on its own. The thyroid gland is located in your neck and has numerous functions including regulation of your body's metabolism.
Levothyroxine works as a synthetic version of the hormone called thyroxine (T4). In hypothyroidism, your body is deficient in producing T4. Therefore, replacing it will help keep your hypothyroidism symptoms at bay. Once you start taking this medication, its onset of action is immediate. However, it may take a few weeks to see your symptoms improve.
Monitoring Response to Thyroid Medication.
A blood test is needed before you start taking the medication to assess your thyroid hormone levels. Additionally, you will take regularly scheduled blood tests to monitor your hormone levels. This is to ensure that the medication is working and adequately replacing the thyroid hormone that your body isn't producing sufficiently by itself. One major side effect that levothyroxine can have is that Ttaking too much thyroid medication will put you into hypothyroidism, which we want to avoid. If you are experiencing symptoms again, tell your doctor, and you will discuss lowering the dose.
When your dosage of medication to treat hypothyrodism is too high, you may experience symptoms such as:
- feeling anxious or irritable
- having trouble sleeping
- feeling like your heart is racing
- sweating more than usual
- losing weight even though you are eating the same amount of food
If you have Hashimoto's disease, your body produces antibodies that attack and damage your thyroid gland. This can cause the gland to become less able to produce thyroid hormone.
Taking too much thyroid medication can cause a condition called "thyroid storm," which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of thyroid storm include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety or irritability
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
These specific thyroid disorders are associated with excessive levels of thyroid hormones beyond what your body can handle.
Hashi toxicosis is the hyperthyroid phase of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is caused by inflammation associated with Hashimoto's thyroiditis inflaming the thyroid follicles, resulting in excess release of thyroid hormone.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Medication.
Three main thyroid hormone replacement medications are levothyroxine, liothyronine, and natural desiccated thyroid. Levothyroxine is the most common type of thyroid medication in the United States, and it is typically given as a pill once a day. Liothyronine is a synthetic form of thyroid hormone that is given as a pill or injection. Natural desiccated thyroid is derived from the dried thyroid glands of pigs and cows and comes in pill and powder form. The most common brand name for natural desiccated thyroid in the United States is Armour Thyroid. All three types of thyroid medications work to replace the thyroid hormone your body isn't producing on its own.
If you are taking thyroid hormone replacement medication, it is important to have your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels checked regularly by your doctor. This will help ensure that your medication dose is correct. If your TSH levels are too high, it may be a sign that your thyroid medication dose is too high.
Monitoring Too Much Thyroid Medication.
When it comes to thyroid medication, more is not always better. Taking a lot of thyroid hormones can be just as harmful as not taking enough. That's why it's important to work closely with your doctor to ensure your dosage is right.
One of the ways doctors monitor overmedication is by checking your TSH levels. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and helps regulate the production of thyroid hormones in the body.
If you take too much thyroid hormone, your TSH levels will drop because there is no need for your pituitary gland to produce more thyroid stimulating hormone when there is sufficient thyroid hormone in the body.
Low TSH levels can be a sign of overmedication and can lead to several health problems, including:
- weight loss
- increased heart rate
- difficulty sleeping
- hair loss
Taking Medication While Pregnant.
If you become pregnant while still undergoing the effects of hyperthyroidism, there are a few things that you can do. Thyroid hormone medication is still required while you are pregnant to keep your hormones under control. Some doctors will even increase the dosage because maternal hormone production increases to support the baby.
The menstrual cycle is another source of hormone imbalance if you are not regulating what you eat around the time of your cycle. Contraceptive pills have been known to help balance those particular hormones and careful monitoring is important to ensure adequate levels.
Since your doctor is likely to increase your thyroid medication dosage while you are pregnant, they will likely give you a lower dose afterward. If your hormones don't regulate after the pregnancy, over-dosage will affect your postpartum period.
Be sure to communicate with your doctor about receiving the right dose of levothyroxine afterward. Some symptoms can still occur as your body is making the transition, so consider getting a reference range a few weeks after the pregnancy. You can always consider a few holistic routes while pregnant because natural holistic methods can be helpful in optimizing your health.
Take a Holistic Approach.
A functional medicine practitioner would work to prevent hypothyroidism by addressing the underlying causes. Thyroid hormone levels can be impacted by many factors, including diet, stress, and toxins. By addressing these underlying causes, a functional medicine practitioner can help to optimize thyroid function and prevent hypothyroidism. Additionally, holistic methods such as acupuncture and herbal medicine can be beneficial in supporting thyroid function.
There can be many benefits to learning the holistic approach, especially if you are feeling symptoms of taking too much medication from the outset. Your thyroid levels can be controlled without taking levothyroxine. However, this is something that needs to be addressed beforehand. If you have a thyroid problem, holistic approaches help your thyroid balance your hormones once the root causes of thyroid imbalance have been identified and treated.
Changing the approach to the way you view medicine will not only help you prevent disease, it will help keep you healthier. You can avoid unnecessary weight gain or heart palpitations from medications.
Index Health Can Help.
Index Health sees each patient as a whole person who deserves a support system and a treatment plan that now addresses the root problem and prevents further issues.
Functional medicine gets to the root cause of your condition using advanced lab tests, data, and specialist physicians, rather than just treating the symptom.
Personalized functional medicine plans are 100% unique and tailored to your body and needs! Plans primarily include nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Get ongoing support from your dedicated functional medicine staff and Advanced Primary Care, retesting, follow-up appointments, therapy, and more.
How It Works.
We dedicate time to understanding your genetics, history, lifestyle, and goals. Combined with advanced lab tests, our functional medicine approach gives you in-depth information about your health and body.
We identify and address the root cause of disease and plan for prevention and long-term health using functional medicine-based changes in nutrition, lifestyle, and targeted supplements.
With proactive 30-60 min functional medicine appointments, primary care, unlimited messaging, and mini visits, we ensure that you achieve your health goals. Certain supplements can benefit you; talk to your doctor and determine the correct functional direction for your health.
Key Takeaways to Thyroid Medication.
In the end, consider your blood levels an important reflection of your body’s response to medical therapy including thyroid hormone treatment. There are optimal levels to target, which your doctor will address with you.
Additionally, consider a more natural and preventative approach to medicine. Functional or holistic medicine are among such considerations. These types of preventative medicine start before diseases occur. These are forms of medicine that will keep diseases at bay. Why wait until it could be too late? Use preventative measures now and live a happier, healthier life!