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Thyroid Problems

Care & Treatment

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is usually treated with levothyroxine, a man-made (synthetic) version of thyroid hormone that you swallow.

If your healthcare professional prescribes the medication, be sure to let him or her know what other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and  other supplements you take, and whether you eat certain foods, such as soy, in large amounts.  Levothyroixine can interact with certain medications. And soy, vitamins and other supplements, and over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect the way your body responds to levothyroxine.

Your healthcare provider will start you on a low dose of levothyroxine and increase the dose gradually if necessary.  You should take this medication on an empty stomach and at least an hour before you take any other drugs or supplements. If it seems to be causing side effects, let your healthcare provider know immediately.  He or she should monitor you and check your thyroid hormone levels on a regular basis.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can be treated with:

  • anti-thyroid medicines
  • radioactive iodine therapy
  • surgery.

Anti-thyroid medications, taken in pill form, can stop the thyroid gland’s overproduction of thyroid hormones. They don’t work for everyone, however, and they don’t work forever. Usually they’re used before treatment with radioactive iodine to control symptoms and to lessen the risk of side effects.

Treatment with radioactive iodine involves swallowing the iodine, which is then absorbed by your thyroid gland. Over time, the iodine shrinks the gland so it produces lower levels of thyroid hormones. The treatment doesn’t cause side effects (such as nausea and hair loss) the way traditional radiation treatment or chemotherapy do.  After treatment, it may take up to six months for your thyroid levels to drop to normal levels. After treatment, your healthcare professional may need to lower the doses of other medications you take because the treatment may result in your body metabolizing medications more slowly. Sometimes, the treatment reduces your thyroid levels too much, and you develop hypothyroidism. If this happens, you will need to take medication for hypothyroidism on a daily basis.

Thyroid surgery or thyroidectomy, which involves the removal of most of your thyroid gland, may be an alternative to radioactive iodine treatment for some people. The surgery carries some risks, including damage to your vocal cords and parathyroid glands, which help control the levels of calcium in your blood.   If you have this surgery you’ll need to take synthetic thyroid on a daily basis for the rest of your life.


Diabetes mellitus (DM),

commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which there are high blood sugarlevels over a prolonged period.[2] Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications.[3] Acute complications include diabetic ketoacidosis and nonketotic hyperosmolar coma.[4] Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney failure, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.[3]

Diabetes is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.[5] There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 DM results from the pancreas’s failure to produce enough insulin. This form was previously referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM) or “juvenile diabetes”. The cause is unknown.[3]
  • Type 2 DM begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly.[3] As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop.[6] This form was previously referred to as “non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”. The primary cause is excessive body weight and not enough exercise.[3]
  • Gestational diabetes, is the third main form and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood-sugar levels.[3]

Prevention and treatment involve a healthy diet, physical exercise, maintaining a normal body weight, and avoiding use of tobacco. Control of blood pressure and maintaining proper foot care are important for people with the disease. Type 1 DM must be managed with insulin injections.[3] Type 2 DM may be treated with medications with or without insulin.[7] Insulin and some oral medications can cause low blood sugar.[8] Weight loss surgery in those with obesity is sometimes an effective measure in those with type 2 DM.[9]Gestational diabetes usually resolves after the birth of the baby.[10]

As of 2015, an estimated 415 million people have diabetes worldwide,[11] with type 2 DM making up about 90% of the cases.[12][13]This represents 8.3% of the adult population,[13] with equal rates in both women and men.[14] From 2012 to 2015, diabetes is estimated to have resulted in 1.5 to 5.0 million deaths each year.[7][11] Diabetes at least doubles a person’s risk of death.[3] The number of people with diabetes is expected to rise to 592 million by 2035.[15] The global economic cost of diabetes in 2014 was estimated to be $612 billion USD.[16] In the United States, diabetes cost $245 billion in 2012.[17]