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Hypothyroidism (cont.)

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Are there special foods or diets for hypothyroidism?

There is no special diet required for people with hypothyroidism. In the US, routine supplementation of salt, flour, and other foods with iodine has decreased the rates of hypothyroidism caused by an iodine deficiency.

What tests diagnose hypothyroidism?

  • People with symptoms of fatigue, cold intolerance, constipation, and dry, flaky skin may have hypothyroidism. A blood test can confirm the diagnosis.
  • "Secondary" or "tertiary" hypothyroidism occurs when the decrease in thyroid hormone is due to a defect of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. A special test, known as the TRH test, can help distinguish if the disease is caused by a defect in the pituitary or the hypothalamus. This test requires an injection of the TRH hormone and is performed by a doctor that treats thyroid conditions (endocrinologist or hormone specialist).
  • Blood work confirms the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, but does not identify the cause. A combination of the patient's clinical history, antibody screening, and a thyroid scan can help diagnose the underlying thyroid problem more clearly.
  • An MRI of the brain and other tests may be ordered if the cause is thought to be from pituitary gland or hypothalamic problems.

What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism can be easily treated with thyroid hormone replacement. The preferred treatment for most people with an underactive thyroid is levothyroxine sodium (Levoxyl, Synthroid). This is a more stable form of thyroid hormone and requires once a day dosing.Liothyronine sodium (Cytomel) also may be prescribed to treat hypothyroidism under certain conditions.

With the exception of certain conditions, the treatment of hypothyroidism requires life-long therapy. However, over treating hypothyroidism with excessive thyroid medication is potentially harmful and can cause problems with heart palpitations and blood pressure control, and contribute to osteoporosis.

What happens if hypothyroidism goes untreated? What are the complications?

Untreated hypothyroidism can cause complications, for example, enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy), worsening congestive heart failure, an accumulation of fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion).

What should I do if I have signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism?

If you have signs or symptoms the same or similar to hypothyroidism, discuss them (for example, weight gain, constipation, or fatigue) with your doctor or other healthcare professional. A simple blood test is the first step in the diagnosis. If you need treatment for hypothyroidism, let your doctor know of any concerns or questions you have about the available treatment, including home or natural remedies.

REFERENCE: Orlander, PR, MD. Hypothyroidism. Medscape. Updated: Feb 26, 2018.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/2/2018


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