Thyroid hormone replacement therapy involves using synthetic thyroid hormones to make up for low thyroid hormone production or hypothyroidism. Approximately five in every a hundred Americans aged twelve and older are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Synthetic thyroid hormones usually mimic natural thyroid hormones and serve to fill in the niche. In some cases, people with hypothyroidism get an overgrown thyroid mass on the neck, a goiter condition.
What do Thyroid Hormones do?
The thyroid produces two hormones, namely T3 and T4. T3 is also referred to as triiodothyronine, while T4 is also called thyroxine. The gland produces T4 at slightly higher volumes than T3. However, T3 is usually more potent and is considered the active form of two thyroid hormones. Your cells can convert T4 to T3 and use T3 for various body functions. Thyroid hormones are useful in:
- Whole body metabolism. Enabling your cells to derive energy from the food you eat. The energy currency in the body is adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
- Enabling cells to utilize the energy in the form of ATP
- Aids the body to regulate temperature by increasing processes in the body that produce heat
- Enabling proper cardiac (heart) function
- Helps proper minute ventilation (the amount of air you take in during a minute)
- Facilitates proper kidney function
- Enables proper growth of bone, muscle, teeth, and skin
- Aids in normal brain and spinal cord neural development and helping in memory, learning, and the sleep and wake cycle
- Facilitates normal ovulation in female and sperm growth in males. It also helps to maintain pregnancy
- Additionally it helps in mental growth in early life and proper growth in stature (height)
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
An under-working thyroid can be due to many reasons. The etiologies are mainly classified as either primary or secondary. Primary reasons for hypothyroidism are the reasons that will be due to the direct effect on your thyroid. In contrast, secondary effects are effects that will affect other organs directly related to thyroid function. The primary reasons include:
1. A Small Thyroid Gland
While developing in your mother’s womb, certain growth factors may be deficient, and this may lead to your thyroid being small. A small thyroid may not function properly to produce enough hormones to meet your body’s demand leading to hypothyroidism.
Enzyme Defects that you are Born with
When you lack certain necessary enzymes, especially those needed by the thyroid to utilize the iodine from the diet, you cannot produce enough thyroid hormones to meet demand. Enzyme deficiencies precipitate you to get hypothyroidism.
Your body’s immune system usually works as the police service. The body’s immune system tries to keep out invaders such as bacteria and viruses that may hinder normal body function or homeostasis. Like the police, the immune system is prone to mistakes and may sometimes mistake normal tissue for foreign tissue, a condition called autoimmune disorders. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. It is also the pre-eminent cause of hypothyroidism in America. When the immune cells target thyroid cells, they cause inflammation, leading to normal cells becoming fibrous, which severely impedes thyroid function.
Radiation, Thyroidectomy and Severe Iodine Deficiency
Radiation therapy, mainly for treating thyroid cancers, may cause average thyroid tissue function loss and subsequent hypothyroidism. Thyroidectomy is removing a part of the whole thyroid. A physician may schedule a thyroidectomy as a technique to combat thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism. Such a procedure can also cause reduced thyroid function. Iodine is usually obtained from the diet primarily and is used to make T4 and T3. when iodine is lacking; the thyroid lacks raw materials to make hormones.
How Hypothyroidism will Present?
If you are diagnosed with low thyroid function, you may complain of:
- Feeling tired even when not having done much
- Adding a lot of weight in a short time period
- A puffy face especially in the morning
- Feeling cold even when it is warm outside
- Excessively dry skin even when you use a lot of lotion
- Hair loss, especially in your young years
- Impaired fertility or irregular menstrual cycles in ladies
- A hoarse voice
- A very low heart rate
- Muscle weakness, stiffness, aches and tender and stiff joints
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Its Adverse Effects
The synthetic thyroid hormones available are:
- Levothyroxine (synthetic T4)
- Liothyronine (synthetic T3)
- Liotrix (combination of synthetic T4 and T3)
All these medications are available as tablets to replace lacking thyroid hormones to help your body function optimally. While thyroid hormone replacement therapy is generally considered safe, long-term use of excessively high doses of thyroid hormones may lead to irregular heart rhythm, weak bones, or other symptoms of an overactive thyroid. Hormone replacement therapy helps with your thyroid. When you experience the symptoms mentioned above, seek help immediately by contacting us at 205-352-9141.