What Is Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy and How Does It Work?
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Thyroid hormone replacement therapy sounds a bit scary at first, but it is simply a method of ensuring your body has the correct balance to maintain its health and functions. Sometimes hormones are not produced at the rate they should be, which can lead to various health problems.
Be sure to consult with your doctor about your specific situation. If they have already recommended thyroid hormone replacement therapy, it’s vital to learn more about the process. Just like any medication, hormone therapy has side effects, specific regulations and lifestyle changes that go along with it. Balancing your thyroid can improve your health and get you on the right track to wellness.
Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
If you’re unsure whether or not you need thyroid hormone replacement therapy, the first step is to figure out if this gland is truly the culprit of your troubles.
Women are more likely to deal with thyroid problems, but men are certainly not immune, either. While some symptoms are specific, most of them are more general and can denote many things, so it’s important to pay attention to which symptoms show up together.
Some of the most common symptoms of thyroid problems — specifically in women — are excess weight gain without a change in diet, fatigue, feeling excessively cold, sensitivity around the thyroid gland itself and excess hair loss.
If you notice any of these issues, especially together, you may want to talk to your doctor about testing for various disorders.
Thyroid Disorders That Could Require Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
While most people attribute all thyroid problems to hypothyroidism, there is a bit more than meets the eye. Hypothyroidism occurs when the gland isn’t making enough of its own hormone naturally and can’t sustain the body’s processes properly. While this is the most common cause of thyroid problems that requires replacement therapy, there are a few other reasons it could become necessary.
Enlarged glands, excess growth of nodules, treatment after the removal of the thyroid or other physical issues can cause a need for additional hormones. While everyone is unique, most of these conditions will require some form of hormone treatment.
What Does Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy Do?
Since the thyroid is responsible for various bodily functions, hormone replacement therapy serves to give it a bit of a hand. The thyroid plays a vital role in metabolism, body temperature regulation, growth and development, which are all functions that can suffer without enough thyroid hormone. Medication addresses these issues, and the symptoms may begin to subside. It won’t add anything that isn’t usually in your body under normal circumstances.
How Do You Take It?
While the term “hormone therapy replacement” often brings injections and medical procedures to mind, thyroid hormone replacement therapy isn’t painful or uncomfortable. It almost always comes in the form of a simple pill, which you’ll take orally once a day — or however many times your doctor prescribes. While you’ll want to stay in communication with your doctor to ensure that everything is working as it should, it’s a fairly simple process.
How Does It Work?
The process starts when you take your first pill at whichever dosage and frequency your doctor recommends. The hormone you’ll likely take will balance the T4 and T3 levels in your body, which naturally coincide with the thyroid.
How Long Will You Be on It?
Thyroid medications tend to be a sustained process, which means you should speak to your doctor about your wellness journey. Even if you start feeling better, it’s important not to skip doses or go off your medication — as that usually means it’s doing its job, and you should stick with it. If you have concerns or questions, you should contact your doctor.
Are There Side Effects?
Thyroid hormone replacement therapy often has a few side effects. While medications impact people in various ways, some of the most common issues result from overcorrection of common symptoms. Weight loss, overheating, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and irritability can occur after taking thyroid medication, which is often a result of being slightly overmedicated. If you find this to be the case, you can talk to your doctor about correcting your dosage or even switching to another prescription that doesn’t cause the same side effects.
What Else Can You Do?
While thyroid hormone replacement therapy and other forms of medical intervention are great for treating issues head-on, you can also make smart lifestyle choices to aid in the healing and wellness process.
While healthy living isn’t a replacement for taking the medications you need, it can help your body utilize hormone therapy to its fullest. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet are great ways to go about this. Specifically, eating a more Mediterranian diet rich in vegetables and fruits, getting moderate exercise and cutting down on processed foods are lifestyle changes that often help support healthy thyroid function.
How Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy Works for You
While everyone is different, thyroid hormone replacement therapy helps so many people feel much better. By consulting with your doctor, sticking with your medications and making healthy lifestyle choices, you can get your thyroid functioning properly.