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Thyroid Problems and Treatments

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

The thyroid system

The thyroid system

Thyroid Function

The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck, just below your Adam's apple. This important gland has two connected lobes, and it secretes three hormones. Each of these hormones has a specific function. The pituitary gland, located in the skull, controls the thyroid hormones.

About five out of one hundred people have hypothyroidism, where the gland does not secrete an adequate amount of hormones. Approximately one out of one hundred people have hyperthyroidism.

The thyroid gland secretes two hormones, including triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), and it secretes calcitonin (a peptide hormone). These hormones impact protein synthesis and metabolic rate. In children, their growth and development are impacted.

Higher Risk of Thyroid Diseases

Several conditions may put you at a higher risk of thyroid disease, including:

  • Having a family history of thyroid disease
  • Having certain medical conditions make you more vulnerable (previous anemia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, Turner syndrome, type one diabetes or primary renal insufficiency)
  • Being older than 60 years
  • Taking a medication that is high in iodine (amiodarone)
  • Not getting enough iodine
  • Having previous treatment for a thyroid condition (cancer or radiation)
Certain conditions can lead to you developing thyroid diseases.

Certain conditions can lead to you developing thyroid diseases.

Specific Causes of Hypothyroid Disease

One reason some people get hypothyroidism worldwide is because about one billion people get enough iodine in their diet. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis also commonly happens in those countries due to this insufficiency. Iodine has been added to salt in many countries to help prevent this problem.

Other causes that are less common include:

  • Previous treatment with radioactive iodine
  • Injury to the hypothalamus or to the anterior pituitary gland
  • Other medications
  • Lack of a functioning thyroid at birth
  • Previous thyroid surgery

Babies can be born with this disease. They may have a normal birth weight, although their head may be larger than expected. Their symptoms may include drowsiness, decreased muscle tone, a cry that is hoarse-sounding, dry, cool skin, and there may be feeding difficulties. They also may be jaundiced.

Hashimoto’s Disease

The symptoms in include:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Poor hearing
  • Hair loss
  • Slow heart rate
  • Dry, coarse skin and hair
  • Heavy menstrual periods (later light periods)
  • Weight gain

If your thyroxine level is low and the TSH is high, it indicates an underactive thyroid. This may occur due to the pituitary gland producing more TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone.

A TSH test is also done to help diagnose subclinical hypothyroidism. This condition causes no outward symptoms. The TSH level is higher than normal, while the triiodothyronine and thyroxine are normal.

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The blood test can be affected by heparin, other blood thinners, and biotin, a vitamin. It is important to tell your doctor if you are taking either one of these medications.

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism Treatment

The treatment for hypothyroidism is a daily oral medication of a synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (typically Levo-T, Synthroid and others).

While most physicians prescribe synthetic levothyroxine, there is a natural extract available. This extract contains both thyroxine and triiodothyronine, and it comes from the thyroid gland of pigs. There is a glandular supplement sold in natural food stores, but it is not regulated, so there is no guarantee as to its purity.

Once you start taking the medication, you will start to feel better as the signs and symptoms begin to reverse. The medication will lower your cholesterol level gradually, which is elevated by the disease. It may also help you lose weight.

A blood test will be done about six to eight weeks after beginning the medication as it may take a while to get the correct dosage. Blood tests are usually repeated about every six months. This treatment will probably last throughout your life.

Too much of this hormone can cause side effects, including:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Shakiness

Patients with coronary artery disease or severe hypothyroidism may be started on a smaller amount of medication that will be slowly increased. This lets your heart adjust to your increased metabolism.

There are no side effects to levothyroxine when it is taken at the appropriate dosage level. It is important to never skip a dosage or stop taking the drug each day for the best absorption.

Some medications, supplements or certain types of food may affect your ability to absorb levothyroxine properly. Tell your physician if you eat a large number of soy products or are on a high-fiber diet because you feel better. The medication should be taken on an empty stomach and at the same time

Medications that can interfere with absorption include:

  • Calcium supplements
  • Iron supplements, including multivitamins with iron
  • Aluminum hydroxide (found in some types of antacids)

Hyperthyroidism (Graves Disease)

Hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid gland produces too much hormone, may be caused by:

  • nodules that have grown on the thyroid,
  • graves disease (diffuse toxic goiter) occurs due to an enlarged thyroid,
  • thyroiditis is an inflammation of the gland that is usually temporary, or
  • excessive intake of iodine.

Hyperthyroid Symptoms

Heart problems are the most serious complication. There are also several uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • anxiety, nervousness and irritability,
  • insomnia,
  • weight loss,
  • heart palpitations,
  • experiencing muscle weakness and tremors,
  • irregular menstrual periods or the cycle may stop,
  • more sensitive to heat, and
  • vision problems or eye irritation.

Graves disease can cause:

  • eyes that are red, swollen or dry,
  • discomfort in one or both eyes, excessive tearing,
  • sensitive to light or reduced eye movement, and
  • protruding eyeballs.

Hyperthyroid Treatment

The treatments for hyperthyroidism include:

  • antithyroid drugs (methimazole and propylthiouracil),
  • radioactive iodine damages the cells of the thyroid, preventing it from producing high levels of hormones,
  • beta-blockers medications help control the symptoms,
  • surgical removal of the thyroid gland, which means taking hormone replacement medications for the rest of your life.

Final Thoughts

Thyroid disease is fairly common, and it is diagnosed with a physical exam, blood test and sometimes an imaging test. There are no side effects to the medication that treats hypothyroidism. Regular blood tests will be done, and the dosage will be adjusted if necessary. My mother had hypothyroidism, and she took her medication early each morning. Her dosage was adjusted several times throughout her life.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 03, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Thyroid problems are so common. I am glad to hear your mom is okay now.

I am glad you found this article helpfully, as that is what I try to do. Thank you so much for your comments. Have a good weekend.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 03, 2021:

Hi Pamela my mom had an active Thyroid and she was very ill. After treatment she feels much better. Your hub is so helpful and informative on this issue that affects women in such times.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 03, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

Hypothyroidism sure runs in your family. Thank goodness is not too difficult to treat.

I never knew there was a cream for the ear for cats. I know thyroid problems can affect dogs and cars.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you have a nice 4th of July weekend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 03, 2021:

Somehow I missed this when it first came out but it's an excellent article. I have hypothyroidism, as does my mother. My grandmother and great-grandmother had it too, so I can attest it does run in families! Interestingly enough, I have had two cats over the years with hyperthyroid conditions. They were treated each day with a specialty prescription cream that was rubbed into the ear where it could be absorbed or were popped a pill (that didn't work so well).

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 02, 2021:

Hi Alyssa,

The thyroid is very important for sure. I am glad you found this article informative and interesting.

I appreciate your comments. I hope you enjoy the 4th of July weekend!

Alyssa from Ohio on July 01, 2021:

I always wondered the reason for adding iodine in salt. It's scary to think how many things can go wrong as a result of a thyroid issue, but encouraging to know the treatment options. This was an interesting and informative article!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 01, 2021:

Thank you very much for your comments, pratik.

pratik987 from Canada on July 01, 2021:

Good one

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 25, 2021:

Hi Shauna,

Thyroid diseases are quite common, and I am glad it is not a problem for you. I don't have that problem either, but I watched my mother get her medication dosage changed numerous times.

I am glad you found this article informative. I appreciate your comments, as always.

Have a great weekend.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 25, 2021:

This is a very informative article, Pamela. I know many people who either suffer from hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Fortunately, I'm not one of them!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 24, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

I am glad you found this informative. I think thyroid disease is common, especially common in women.

I appreciate your comments. Stay sae and healthy.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 24, 2021:

A very well written and informative article about Thyroid disease, it’s symptoms and treatment. One disease, which has become very common, especially in women, is thyroid disorder. If it’s not severe, it can be taken care of, and managed with daily medicine. But, sometimes there are serious complications.

Thank you for sharing this important and valuable information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 24, 2021:

Hi Linda

Thank you so much for your nice comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 24, 2021:

Thanks once again for sharing your knowledge, Pamela. The details that you share in your articles are always useful.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

I am glad that was the ourcome for your mother-in-law. At least the medication helped her live.

I appreciate your comments. We are headed to TX in a couple of weeks to see relatives, but not right in Houston.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2021:

My mother-in-law developed thyroid cancer. She had her thyroid gland removed and was on medication for the rest of her life. Fortunately, after the surgery, she never again developed any cancer.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Miebakagh,

I am glad you found the article interesting and informative

Thank you so much for your comments.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 23, 2021:

Interesting and informing. Thanks.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Fran,

Be aware of your own body is a good motto.

Thank you for your comments, as always.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on June 23, 2021:

Pamela, again an informative article. I appreciate your insight on common medical problems. Be aware of your own body!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Linda,

My mother had her medication strength changed several times, and eventually she did quite well. Yes, it is more prevalent in women, especially when they reach middle age. Thyroid disease is common for men also.

I hope you are feeling better soon. I appreciate your generous comments. Take care!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Ms Dora,

I hope your situation changes. Doctors are doing a lot of virtual visits here, which is actually just a phone call. You would need blood work if you have those concerns.

I am glad you are aware of the symptoms, and I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Linda,

It is important to be informed as thyroid disease is quite common, and it occurs more frequently as we age.

I appreciate your comments.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on June 23, 2021:

It's a very useful and educational article. It's important to be aware of thyroid disease issues.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 23, 2021:

Thanks, for this article. I wish I understood it as well as you do. I do have thyroid concerns, and can't even get to my doctor, thanks to COVID. Thanks for outlining the symptoms on either side.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 23, 2021:

Pamela, thank you for this article. I have hypothyroidism and all the classic symptoms that go along with it. After 1 1/2 years of medication I'm feeling much better, but still not 100 percent. I need to schedule an appointment with my doctor for another blood draw.

My mother had the same condition. You mentioned heredity. Do you know if it is more prevalent in women than in men? I know one person who had Graves disease, also a woman. Just wondering.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Roslin,

I certainly hope this article helps your friend. I am glad you found this article to be informative as thyroid disease iss common.

I appreciate your comments, and I hope your friend will be okay.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Oglusegun,

I am glad you found the article educational. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I am glad I have increased your medical knowledge as I believe new knowledge of any kind is probably a good thing.

I appreciate your nice comments always. Happy hump day1

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

Thyroid disease is fairly common. I am so sorry to hear about your aunt. Unfortunately, the symptoms can be tough.

Thank you for your generous comments.

Love and blessings.

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 23, 2021:

Pamela, this is a very useful and educational article. It's important to be aware of thyroid issues. One of my aunts has thyroid disease, and many of her symptoms are similar to the ones you mentioned. Doctors have advised her to have surgery, but she and her family are hesitant. She also has a poor memory as a result of her thyroid condition. Thank you for sharing this informative article. Much Love!!

Blessings and Peace

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 23, 2021:

Always a fascinating read, my friend. I learn so much from you, and for that I thank you! You definitely know your stuff!

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on June 23, 2021:

This is educative. Good work.

Rozlin from UAE on June 23, 2021:

Hi, Pamela. This is a very informative and helpful article on thyroid diseases. One of my friend has thyroid diseases, she says she is unable to conceive bcoz of thyroid diseases. I will forward your article to her, might help her. Thanks for sharing.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi John,

Your wife is taking the medication that is almost always given for hypothyroidism. That is the same one my mother too, but it was periodically adjusted as she aged.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Hope you are having a good day.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 23, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

Since thyroid problems are fairly common I wanted to include the various problems with the symptoms.

Thank you so much for your very nice comments.


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 23, 2021:

This is an in-depth and informative article, Pamela. My wife suffers from hypothyroidism and takes medication each morning to stabilize it. "Eutroxsig" (levothyroxine). Thank you for sharing this.

Rosina S Khan on June 23, 2021:

This is an informative and interesting article, Pamela. It is good to know about thyroid problems and their treatments and it is good to be advised about them. Thank you for your significantly marvelous contribution.

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