Needing hypothyroidism treatment can seem intimidating until a bit of explanation helps clarify just what it means to have a problem with the thyroid gland. It’s important to understand that since no two cases of hypothyroidism are identical, the treatments always require a bit of personalization. The exact type of hypothyroidism treatment will depend on the reason why the thyroid gland isn’t making enough hormone.
The many faces of hypothyroidism
Not having enough thyroid hormone, a condition known as hypothyroidism, can exist alone or as part of a thyroid disease with a mixture of symptoms. In order to understand hypothyroidism treatment, it helps to take a look at the various ways in which the creation of hormone by the thyroid gland can get a bit off-balance.
Some causes of hypothyroidism
- Inflammation of the thyroid gland
- Removal of part or all of the thyroid gland
- Radiation of the thyroid gland
- Congenital hypothyroidism
- Certain drugs that interfere with thyroid function
Meeting the needs of the thyroid gland
The body requires sufficient quantities of iodine in order to produce thyroid hormone. Most iodine is obtained from plants and is naturally most abundant in places close to the sea. For people living far inland, hypothyroidism was once a common problem that was most severe for unborn children. The practice of salt iodization has helped ensure that sufficient iodine is available to everyone, no matter the location.
A lack of dietary iodine while in the womb was once the most common cause of congenital hypothyroidism. Fortunately, good prenatal nutrition and vitamins is an effective way to help prevent this disease. Although this is quite rare now, some people are still born without a properly functioning thyroid gland. This serious condition requires lifelong hypothyroidism treatment.
The tiny gland that changes size
In places where there is not enough iodine in the food or salt is not iodized, the thyroid gland can become engorged with incomplete hormone that it can’t release. The enlargement of the thyroid gland, called a goiter, can be quite dramatic if left untreated. In such cases, the best hypothyroidism treatment is supplementation of the diet with iodine.
The thyroid gland can also become enlarged due to the development of a nodule or tumor. When these require removal by radiation or surgery, there can be inadequate amounts of thyroid gland remaining to produce natural thyroid hormone, making life-long hypothyroidism treatment essential.
Synthetic thyroid hormone: the life-saving hypothyroidism treatment
Conventional hypothyroidism treatment is based on supplementing the body with levothyroxine, a synthetic version of normal T4 form of thyroid hormone. Also referred to as L-thyroxine, this small tablet is taken once or twice daily in doses that are tailored to match each person’s individual needs. This may not be the only medication needed, however, in order to help recover healthy thyroid function.
Let food be thy medicine: tasty thyroid treatment
There are several great ways to design a thyroid-supporting diet. Several vitamins and minerals help support thyroid hormone production.
Foods to support thyroid health
- Selenium-rich foods such as meat, dairy, garlic and onions
- Iodine-rich foods such as black walnuts, kelp, seaweed and iodized salt
- Tyrosine-rich foods such as ocean fish, dairy, bananas and avocado
- Healthy fats such as coconut, olive oil and non-trans fats
- Ocean-fish: good source of selenium, iodine and tyrosine
The fatigue of hypothyroidism makes excess caffeine and sugar an appealing option but these should be excluded from every diet. Their suppressive effects on thyroid function make them particularly toxic to sufferers of hypothyroidism.
Foods to avoid for better thyroid health
- Processed, refined foods
There are also a number of foods that can interfere with the absorption of the medications used in the treatment of hypothyroidism. Many of these essential – and delicious – foods should remain a part of you diet but not unless it’s been at least four hours since your last dose of thyroid medication. Your health care provider will be able to let you know if you should be careful with any other foods or medications.
Foods and medications that can interfere with hypothyroidism treatment
- Excess fiber
- Iron supplements
- Calcium supplements
- Some antacids
- Some medications such as blood thinners and cold remedies
The mind-body-adrenal connection
Taking good care of your thyroid gland can also depend on proper attention to your adrenal glands. As the body’s main stress regulators, adrenal hormones work in harmony with thyroid gland, making the health of one inter-dependent on the other.
A simple way to ensure adrenal – thyroid balance is through regular exercise. While also keeping the rest of your body in shape, getting the recommended three times 30 minute bouts of fitness is a great thyroid treatment that can help ensure proper functioning of the adrenal glands as well. Deep relaxation treatments also work wonders for achieving adrenal gland health.
For those who aren’t ready for more exercise or need to boost adrenal health even further, there are few adrenal supporting herbs and supplements can be helpful. These support the breakdown of excess cortisol, the main stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. In this way, these supplements act like an insurance policy that the adrenal-thyroid system of checks and balances is functioning optimally.
Prevention is the best medicine
While seeking out the proper hypothyroidism treatment, there are some important steps that can make the job easier by keeping the problem from getting any worse. This includes protecting the thyroid gland from harmful ionizing radiation, the same type of energy used to take x-rays. If your dentist wants to get a picture of your teeth, be sure to ask for a protective collar to cover your delicate thyroid from undue x-ray exposure!