Being diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease and hypothyroidism is not fun. Plus, the conditions can be difficult to understand. But with the right questions, you can get the answers you need to stay on top of your condition and learn the best ways to manage it. When visiting your endocrinologist, it's essential that you leave the appointment feeling informed and empowered. Don't worry if you don't know where to start – we've rounded up some of the most essential questions to ask during your appointment.
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck, can't produce enough thyroid hormones. The hormones that the thyroid gland produces include thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are essential for your health as they help regulate many bodily functions.
If you have hypothyroidism, you'll experience symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, constipation, low libido, and more.
Hashimoto's disease, also known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease that occurs in the thyroid gland.
In Hashimoto's disease, your immune system attacks the thyroid gland, impairing your thyroid function, and preventing it from producing enough thyroid hormones. Therefore, the condition can lead to an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism. Moreover, in response to the thyroid gland's decreased thyroid hormone production, the anterior pituitary gland increases its thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) production.
The root cause of Hashimoto's disease is still unknown. However, it tends to run in families, so genes are thought to be one of the triggers. It's also more likely to occur in people with other autoimmune diseases, such as Addison's disease (a condition that occurs in the adrenal gland), certain liver conditions, gluten sensitivity, lupus, type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Furthermore, Hashimoto's disease is more common in women than in men. In fact, there are seven times more women than men with Hashimoto's disease.
There is currently no cure for Hashimoto's disease, but hypothyroidism can be managed with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Therefore, your treatment will depend on whether your thyroid gland is damaged enough to cause hypothyroidism.
If you don't experience hypothyroidism, your doctor will check your thyroid hormone levels and symptoms regularly. If you have hypothyroidism, on the other hand, you'll have to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of your life.
The most common medications for underactive thyroid patients are levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Levothyroxine is the synthetic version of the T4 thyroid hormone, and it's the more commonly prescribed thyroid hormone replacement medication.
NDT contains the natural forms of T4 and T3 thyroid hormones, making it more closely resemble the hormones your thyroid gland produces. This is why NDT is much more preferred by thyroid patients. Plus, some brands of NDT, like VitaliThy, are free from potential allergens like gluten, lactose, artificial colors and flavors, eggs, fish, and shellfish. Moreover, you can buy this natural desiccated thyroid online.
Your doctor will determine your thyroid medication dosage based on your age, weight, level of thyroid production, other medical conditions, and other medicines or supplements you might be taking.
Finding the correct dose for both NDT and levothyroxine can be tricky, so you'll likely start from a low dose. Your doctor will check your TSH levels 6 to 10 weeks after your first dose. If required, they'll adjust your dosage.
You'll likely be asked to take your thyroid hormone medication once a day, with water, on an empty stomach.
Certain foods, drinks, medications, and supplements may affect your body's ability to absorb thyroid medications. Therefore, you need to ask your doctor if you have to avoid any of the following:
Birth control pills
Supplements or vitamins containing iron or calcium
Antacids containing aluminum hydroxide
You'll need to take your medication for the rest of your life. Your symptoms might return if you stop taking the medication. Plus, stopping your medication abruptly may have serious side effects.
All medications have side effects, including thyroid hormone replacement medications like NDT and levothyroxine. The side effects are rare and usually, happen when you take a higher dose than you need. These include:
You can switch to a different medication if you don't feel any improvements. For example, many people who didn't feel better with levothyroxine switched to natural desiccated thyroid, like VitaliThy, and experienced significant improvements.
What you need to keep in mind when switching medications is that you need to talk to your doctor about it first. The safest way to do it is to have your doctor supervise you. This is because your levels might become unstable during the switch. Your doctor will need to retest your thyroid hormone levels every 6 weeks and adjust your dosage.
Find out what food you need to add or avoid from your diet to help ensure optimal thyroid health. Your doctor may advise avoiding iodine-rich foods, such as seaweed and kelp.
They may also ask you to have a nutrient-dense eating regimen to enhance your thyroid health and ease the symptoms. These may include fruits like berries and animal proteins like salmon and shrimp.
Getting enough exercise is also vital as it can help you relieve many hypothyroidism symptoms and boost your energy levels. However, your doctor may ask you to wait until your thyroid hormone levels are optimal. They'll likely evaluate any other underlying conditions as well.
If you are keen to start exercising again, you'll be recommended to start slow, especially if you have severe symptoms or if you've never had a regular exercise routine before.
Non-impact or low-impact exercises are generally best if you have joint pain. These include deep water running, swimming laps, water aerobics, walking, and biking. Strength training like push-ups, squats, and weight lifting are also recommended.
Hair loss can be frustrating, but getting proper treatment should be able to help you combat it. Aside from treatment, you may also want to boost your iron intake, try hair supplements like biotin and zinc, eat a proper diet, incorporate ginger or turmeric into your diet, and treat your hair gently should be able to help.
You'll still be able to get pregnant, but it will be harder. It may even lead to serious pregnancy complications like miscarriage, preeclampsia (a severe blood pressure condition), and anemia.
The safest option is to wait until your thyroid hormone levels are stabilized before you get pregnant to prevent complications. Plus, thyroid hormone is vital for your baby's brain to develop normally.
If you find out that you're pregnant, don't stop taking your medication without your doctor's supervision. Treatment is crucial during pregnancy.
This might be a difficult question to ask your doctor, but it's always a good idea to be prepared so you can prevent it.
The answer is that people with Hashimoto's disease have a higher risk of thyroid cancer, breast cancer, blood cancer, and digestive system cancers. Your doctor will help you come up with a plan to prevent these complications from happening.
If you or someone in your family has a history of an autoimmune or thyroid condition, ask your doctor if the rest of your family needs to get tested. Your doctor may ask your family to get a thyroid blood test kit.
Dealing with Hashimoto's disease and hypothyroidism can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming, but asking the right questions may help you get all the information you need to manage your condition properly.
At the end of the day, getting thyroid hormone medication is the most important thing to do. Be sure you get the best, like VitaliThy. It has all the thyroid hormones your thyroid naturally produces, so it can work very effectively and provide much-needed relief from your symptoms.
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