Hypothyroidism is caused by either an overactive or underactive thyroid gland. It either produces too much or too little of a hormone called T4, depending on which thyroid problem you face. There are normal ranges that the T4 in the body should fall within. A full thyroid panel will show where the production levels in your body are. The tests are routine and fairly common so there should be nothing to worry about. Most people diagnosed are given a thyroid medication. The medication is a synthetic form of the hormone the body needs in cases where the thyroid is underactive. The medication has different doses dependant on how low your body’s natural production is. There is also a medication to suppress the production if your thyroid is overactive.
There are some commonly held beliefs and myths around medication that should be taken into account.
- First and foremost, you cannot expect to feel better instantly. Some people do start to feel more energetic and alert quite quickly, some only a week or two after beginning the medication; for others, it can take a couple of months.
- You may be expected to see your doctor several times for tests to determine if the dosage is working for you and adjust it accordingly.
- You will probably take your medication at the wrong time. For the best absorption rates, your medication should be taken on an empty stomach. Taking it too closely to eating reduces absorption and so, the effectiveness of the drug.
- Switching from brand name to generic versions. It may be cheaper, but it can affect your level even if you are still taking the same dosage. Stick with what you know or if you do want to switch, consult your doctor first.
- Keep your drugs cool and dry in a dark place. Exposing your medications to heat, light, or moisture can again make them less effective. People tend to store them in the wrong places, like window sills or in the bathroom where there is an excess of moisture.
- Many people want to try natural supplements or a more holistic approach. This can be helpful, but it is important to do your research before combining anything with the tried and tested medication. Some natural supplements actually contain thyroid hormones that don’t appear on the label, taking these can mean that you get too much which can be extremely detrimental.
Thyroid medication is often a lifelong decision. There is currently no cure for hypothyroidism and so it is important to be responsible with your medication or whatever therapy you choose. The most important part of any medication routine is consistency, taking your medication at the same time every day and not missing doses. If you follow the tips above you give the medication the best chance to work for you.