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How is hypothyroidism treated?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

The goal of treatment for hypothyroidism is to compensate for the lack of naturally produced thyroid hormone. For nearly everyone, the treatment involves taking synthetic thyroxine. Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone. You will be required to take this medication for life, even if symptoms are relieved. Doctors typically start with the lowest dose possible that brings TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels back to normal. Initially, TSH levels are tested every six to eight weeks until the optimal dose is found. After that, testing once a year is sufficient.

The treatment of hypothyroidism includes replacing the body's natural thyroid hormone with a pill form of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone replacement is typically a form of T4 (also known as levothyroxine); it is long lasting and only needs to be taken once a day. During treatment, the patient's TSH level must be monitored to ensure that the correct dose is given.

The starting dose is based on the patient's weight and is usually around1.6 mcg/kg although some patients require significantly more or less than that dose.

There are several situations where the dose may need to be adjusted. For example, in elderly patients, thyroid hormone replacement should be started at a lower dose due to the risks of heart problems and increased bone loss. In patients with thyroid cancer, the dose is adjusted to suppress TSH below normal levels.

For more information go the endocrinediseases.org:

Diseases of thyroid function: Hypothyroidism

Mrs. Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

There's no hypothyroidism diet. It is generally managed with thyroid medication hormone. Although claims about hypothyroidism diets abound, there's no evidence that eating or avoiding certain foods will improve thyroid function in people with hypothyroidism. If you have hypothyroidism, take thyroid hormone replacement as directed by your doctor — generally on an empty stomach. It's also important to note that too much dietary fiber can impair the absorption of synthetic thyroid hormone. Certain foods, supplements and medications can have the same effect.

Mayo Clinic suggests to avoid taking your thyroid hormone at the same time as:

  • Walnuts
  • Soybean flour
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Some ulcer medications, such as sucralfate (Carafate)

To avoid potential interactions, eat these foods or use these products several hours before or after you take your thyroid medication.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.