Hypothyroidism: Common Causes and Thyroid Treatments

Iodine is an essential part of your diet. If iodine is deficient in your food intake, it could lead to hyperthyroidism or the inadequate production of thyroid hormones in your body. This condition is prevalent in women and the elderly aged 60 and up.

Understanding how the thyroid gland works and the different thyroid treatments can help you make an informed decision.

What Is the Thyroid Gland and Why You Need It?

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found in the anterior part of your neck. It is a component of the endocrine system which manufacture, store, and discharge hormones into the bloodstream so it can be quickly distributed to the various regions of the body.

The two hormones manufactured by the thyroid glands are the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Your body needs just the right level of these hormones to prevent any problems. When there is an imbalance in the thyroid hormones, you could experience problem with metabolism along with many other signs and symptoms.

What Are the Functions of the Thyroid Hormones?

In order for your thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4, you need to have sufficient intake of iodine. That is why it is important to include iodine in your diet; otherwise a thyroid supplement, containing Iodine, might be needed.

The parts of your body that regulate and maintain the balance of thyroid hormones are the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These two components communicate with each other to ensure the stability of both T3 and T4.

The thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating metabolic processes in your body such as the processing of food in your intestine and the beating of your heart. So, when there are too much thyroid hormones, referred to as hyperthyroidism, you will encounter palpitations and constant diarrhea. On the other hand, low T3 and T4, known as hypothyroidism, causes low heart rate and constipation.

Various Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Below are the signs and symptoms which may require you to get thyroid treatments:


  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold temperature
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Memory loss
  • Constipation

Different Strategies and Thyroid Treatments

Before thyroid treatments are started, the doctors need to confirm your ailment by testing the level of hormones in your blood. The test will help identify the cause of the hormone imbalance. From here, your doctor can come up with a thyroid treatments plan based on your specific condition.

Here are typical hypothyroid medications grouped according to their classifications:

Synthetic preparation

  • Levothyroxine (T4)

Among all other hormone replacement drugs, levothyroxine is the most commonly recommended medication by doctors. It is a synthetic form of thyroxine, and it is used to treat hypothyroidism. If your body can still efficiently convert T4 into T3, then your healthcare provider can prescribe you this drug.

Some brands of levothyroxine drugs include:

  • Synthroid
  • Levoxyl
  • Unithroid
  • Tirosint

Tirosint is a different thyroid medication from the other brands because it is usually given if you have allergies to dyes and fillers which the other brands contain. This particular medication is ideal for those who have digestive problems like atrophic gastritis, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease. It comes in a soft gel capsule.

  • Liothyronine  Sodium (T3)

Liothyronine is another synthetic type of drug prescribed if you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The T3 medication can be directly used by the cell and no longer needs to be converted.

The only T3 drug available in the USA is Cytomel. Compounding pharmacies can also provide a prescription of time released medication.

Natural hormonal preparation

  • Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT)

It is a thyroid hormone drug produced using animal thyroid gland. Most NDTs are made from pig thyroids, and it contains both T3 and T4 calcitonin as well as other components found in the organic thyroid gland.

Common NDT drugs are as follows:

  • Armour thyroid
  • WP thyroid

Comparing the Efficiency of Different Thyroid Drugs

After knowing the different drugs to treat thyroid problems, you’re probably asking what the best medication for you is. Identifying what medicine to use would mostly depend on your doctors as well as on your body’s response to the drugs you are taking.

If your thyroid function is slightly below average, you may be given levothyroxine. However, if you are an older adult aged 65 and up, the benefit of thyroid treatments may not be consistent.

According to a research conducted by the University of California School of Medicine, an elderly who takes levothyroxine may not get relief from symptoms like tiredness and fatigue. The study involved 700 patients who took levothyroxine  with another 700 patients who received placebo. After testing the results, those taking the drug showed an improved thyroid function, but there is no improvement in blood pressure, muscle strength, and speed of thinking.

Different research that compared the efficiency of levothyroxine to desiccated thyroid extract like NDT revealed that those taking the latter drug showed improved symptoms. The study lasted for 32 weeks, and it involved 70 patients suffering from hypothyroidism who alternately took NDT and levothyroxine. For the first 16 weeks, NDT was given and then followed by levothyroxine. At the end of the 16-week trial, tests are conducted to check the patient’s response.

The results of the research show that when the patient takes NDT, there is a significant improvement in their symptoms compared to taking levothyroxine. Results revealed that about 48.6% of the subjects prefer NDT, 32.9% has no preference, and 18.6% choose levothyroxine.

The key to choosing a thyroid treatment plan is to honestly talk and listen to your doctor’s advice because they know what is best for you. If you feel that the thyroid treatments they recommend you is not working, make sure to inform your doctor so they can alter the medication according to your needs.

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