Do you know the difference between primary hypothyroidism and secondary hypothyroidism? If you don't, you can learn more about each type of hypothyroidism here. Treating hypothyroidism can seem overwhelming because of all of the available options. Learn what there is to know about hypothyroidism and how to prevent it from happening.

What is Primary Hypothyroidism?

First, let's learn what the thyroid gland is responsible for, how it can be affected, and what causes thyroid disease. The thyroid is a gland in your body that works with vital hormones to control metabolism. Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are produced by the thyroid gland and regulate metabolism  controlling the body’s energy use.

The thyroid gland controls many important functions in your body including your metabolic rate, which controls heart, muscle digestive function, brain development, and bone maintenance. When the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland become unbalanced, other organs in the body start to be affected.

One of the main causes of thyroid hormone imbalance is iodine deficiency. If a patient has an autoimmune disease, this can be another cause of disruption to thyroid function. The immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism (Graves’ disease) or hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's disease). Inflammation can also affect the thyroid and occur in response to a bacteria or viral infection. Nodules or cancerous lumps are another cause of thyroid problems.

Now that we've discussed what the thyroid gland is and how its function can be affected by many factors, let's take a deeper look at hypothyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. The most common causes of hypothyroidism are Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, and thyroid nodules.

The most common symptoms associated with primary hypothyroidism are nervousness, palpitations, hypoactivity, increased sweating, fatigue, weight loss, increased appetite, insomnia, and frequent bowel movements. Along with symptoms are signs that primary hypothyroidism is occurring in your body. The signs normally include skin changes (it can become warm and moist), tremors, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate).

Does it Affect the Thyroid Gland?

As we learned previously, hypothyroidism can greatly affect the thyroid gland. Thyroid dysfunction starts in the thyroid gland and can be associated with a disease or infectious process. When patients experience symptoms of hypothyroidism, the symptoms generally develop over time.

What is Secondary Hypothyroidism?

Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is excessively stimulated by  thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)..  Secondary hypothyroidism may be due to increased production of TSH from the pituitary gland or a TSH-secreting tumor, or more rarely from overproduction of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus or TRH-secreting tumor.  The most common causes of secondary hypothyroidism include: carcinomas, TSH-secreting tumors, and TRH-secreting tumors.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency is another cause of hypothyroidism.

Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when the hypothalamus doesn't create enough TRH or the pituitary gland doesn't produce enough TSH.

Subclinical hypothyroidism occurs when the  thyroxine (T4) level is normal in the presence of an elevated serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level.

The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Hypothyroidism.

The main difference between primary and secondary hypothyroidism is that primary hypothyroidism is associated with destruction of the thyroid gland most commonly from autoimmunity. Secondary hypothyroidism occurs after pituitary or hypothalamic damage and results in insufficient production of TSH.

Holistic Treatments for Hypothyroidism.

Typically when someone is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, the standard treatment option is to take thyroid hormone replacement medication. Their blood levels will be monitored and evaluated, and dosage of their medication might change over time.

However, there are other options for treatment that are more  holistic and  help fix thyroid hormone production. We're going to take you through each of these treatment options.

Iodine: As we've learned through this article, iodine deficiency is one of the main causes of the disruption of normal levels in the first place. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormone. Iodine is an essential trace mineral not made by the body and so it must be obtained by food or supplements. Our recommendation is to incorporate iodine-rich foods into your diet. You can find iodine in salt with iodine, saltwater fish, shellfish, and seaweed.

Selenium: This mineral is helpful for the conversion of the inactive T4 hormone to the active T3 hormone. This mineral can be found in seafood, organ meats, and Brazil nuts and is commonly taken as a supplement.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A regulates thyroid hormone metabolism. Some good sources of vitamin A include carrots and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A deficiency is common when someone is struggling with an underactive thyroid. Therefore, incorporating this vitamin into your diet can be beneficial.

Gluten-Free Diet: As mentioned before, autoimmune diseases can trigger problems with the thyroid hormone. Someone with celiac disease is more likely to develop Hashimoto's thyroiditis or other autoimmune diseases.  In patients with celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine.  Therefore, staying on a gluten-free diet may bring benefits to patients with autoimmune thyroid disease.

In the end, keeping a healthy diet and incorporating an exercise routine can be beneficial to one's body—staying healthy means preventing more diseases.