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Underactive Thyroid: Frequently Asked Questions

QWhat is Thyroid gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine (hormone secreting) gland in the neck that is found on both sides of the trachea (windpipe).

QWhat is an endocrine gland / endocrine system?

The endocrine system is made up of a series of glands that produce chemicals called hormones. Thyroid gland is one of the many endocrine glands such as adrenal, pituitary, pancreas, testes, etc.

QWhat is Underactive Thyroid or Hypothyroidism or Hypothyroid?

Deficiency of the thyroid hormone (Thyroxine) is called Hypothyroidism or Hypothyroid. It is one of those conditions which is often present for many years before it can be recognized and treated effectively. Estimated one in every 50 females and one in 1000 men tend to suffer with this condition. Underactive Thyroid is also called Hypothyroidism.

QWhat are the types of Underactive Thyroid?

Underactive Thyroid can be of two types:

Primary hypothyroidism: Here the problem lies in the thyroid gland and hence it fails to produce sufficient hormones due to certain causes.

Secondary hypothyroidism: In this type, the pituitary gland is at fault and it is unable to produce sufficient quantity of TSH. Lack of TSH in turn causes decreased production of T3 and T4 by the thyroid gland due to lack of stimulus from the pituitary.

QWhat are the causes of Underactive Thyroid?

Primary Hypothyroidism or Underactive thyroid can be caused due to several reasons such as follows:

  • Iodine deficiency
  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Post-thyroidectomy
  • Post-radiotherapy

Secondary hypothyroidism is commonly caused by the following:

  • Pituitary gland dysfunction
  • Hypothalamic dysfunction
QHow stress is related to Underactive Thyroid?

Stress is the commonest trigger for thyroid dysfunction: Read more in details on:Hypothyroidism Causes

QWhat are the symptoms of Underactive Thyroid?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism are frequently missed out and especially in elderly females these are mistaken to be symptoms of menopause. The beginning of the symptoms is often not noted markedly and hence the condition remains under-diagnosed.

Patient may experience few of the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue, exhaustion, weakness, unexplained weight gain, cold intolerance
  • Hairloss, thinning of hair, coarse dry hair
  • Dry, rough, pale and itchy skin
  • Severe mood swings, depression, memory loss, irritability, reduced concentration
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles, increased menstrual flow
  • Decreased libido
  • Infertility, miscarriages
  • Puffy, swollen face and dull facial expressions
  • Hoarse voice and slow speech
  • Goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland)
  • Non-pitting edema (swelling)
  • Pitting edema (swelling) of the feet

Patient may have any kind of combination of the symptoms mentioned above depending on the duration and severity of the condition. Occasionally patient may be asymptomatic or may be having very subtle symptoms.

QHow is Underactive Thyroid diagnosed?

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be established based on the results of tests done to measure the levels of these hormones in the blood.

Commonly done investigations are as follows:

T3, T4 (levels of thyroid hormones) in the blood Thyroid stimulating hormone levels (TSH) Anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies Ultrasonography (USG) of the neck and thyroid.

To read more in details about the underactive thyroid diagnosis

QWhat is sub-clinical and clinical Hypothyroidism?

The sub-clinical cases have an elevated TSH with a normal T3 and/or T4

The clinical cases have an elevated TSH and a low T4 and/or T3

QWhat are the complications of an untreated Underactive Thyroid?

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to several other health issues like:

  • Goiter
  • Heart ailments
  • Mental health
  • Myxedema
  • Concerning females and child birth related issues

To read more in details about the complications, refer: Complications

QI am a case of Underactive Thyroid, why am I not able to lose weight, on the contrary I am putting on more weight?

The main purpose of the thyroid hormone is to run the body's metabolism, in case of underactive Thyroid, the metabolism is slowed down which leads to excess weight gain, accumulation of fat and water. Once you start responding to the treatment, one can expect so see a change in the weight as well.

QDoes every woman with Underactive Thyroid have to worry about infertility?

Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility or recurrent miscarriage as it causes anovulation (failure to ovulate). Once the thyroid is corrected, and ovulation is occurring, fertility is usually very good and one can continue with the pregnancy.

QI have Underactive Thyroid, what are the chances of my child having it?

Genetics do play a role in Underactive Thyroid, if one of the family members has Underactive Thyroid, then you have more chances of having it.

QWhat are the other conditions associated with Underactive Thyroid?

Usually associated with other auto-immune disorder like insulin dependent diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc

Addison's disease
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

QI am a case of Underactive Thyroid, what kind of diet do I need to take and what should I avoid?
  • Food items that can are helpful for thyroid functions are: carrots, spinach, apricots, asparagus, olive oil, avocado, sunflower seeds, whole grain cereals, bananas, oily fish
  • Food item that may interfere with iodine uptake are and should not be taken in high quantity are: cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohirabi, mustard, lima beans, linseed, sweet potato, peanuts, soy products, so keep these to a minimum.
  • Avoid Stimulants like caffeine drinks like coffee, cola; avoid stimulants like smoking and alcohol as these all effect the thyroid function.
  • Reduce Stress: Stress is a major factor and is thought to be a contributing factor to the development of hypothyroidism.
QWhat is the conventional treatment for Underactive Thyroid?

Conventional treatment is basically a Thyroid Replacement therapy Hypothyroidism is treated with the levorotatory forms of thyroxine (levothyroxine) (L-T4) and triiodothyronine (liothyronine) (L-T3).

There are several different treatment protocols in thyroid-replacement therapy:

T4 only: This treatment involves supplementation of levothyroxine alone, in a synthetic form. It is currently the standard treatment in mainstream medicine.

T4 and T3 in combination: This treatment protocol involves administering both synthetic L-T4 and L-T3 simultaneously in combination.

QWhy do you suggest Homeopathy for Underactive Thyroid?

Homeopathic treatment aims at stimulating the Thyroid gland to produce its own thyroid hormones. External supply of the hormone is not the treatment but an arrangement. We are trying to correct the internal imbalance. This is possible in many cases if not all. If achieved successfully, lifelong need for thyroid supplement may not be required.

QIf I am on conventional treatment, can I still start with Homeopathy?

Yes. Most cases of Underactive Thyroid who are on the conventional therapy for less then two years can start with homeopathy.

QDo they interact with conventional medicines?

No. Homeopathic medicines can be safely taken with the conventional medicines.

QCan my conventional medicines be stopped?
  • Those patients on thyroid supplement for more than two years, stopping the conventional medicines will not be possible.
  • Those patients on thyroid supplement for less than two years, we are able to reduce it, keeping a check on the thyroid hormone levels.
QWhat change can I expect in my Thyroid state once I start with Homeopathy?

One can expect the TSH levels to reduce, further giving a relief in the intensity of the symptoms. Patients who are on thyroid supplement may take time to reduce the supplement, keeping a watch on the thyroid hormone levels. Early cases(less then two years) can find an alternative to life long thyroid supplements.

QWhat is the success rate in treating Underactive Thyroid with Homeopathy?

At Life Force we have a success rate of 50-60 %

Few Limitations of homeopathy in treating Underactive thyroidism are:

  • Homeopathic treatment works in early cases of Underactive Thyroid
  • Those patients on thyroid supplement for more that two years may not show results
  • The treatment works if the thyroid gland has some inherent capacity to get activated.
QHow long do I have to be on your treatment?

Treatment of Underactive Thyroid is long term.

The total length of treatment varies form case to case, depending of the following factors:

  • Duration of Underactive Thyroid (We are able to produce best results in the cases up to three years duration)
  • Extent of dysfunction (Levels of TSH and T3, T4 hormones)
  • Concurrent thyroid supplement.( Patients who are on thyroid supplement for more than 2 years do not respond to homeopathy)
  • Age of the patient: Our experience is that that patients below 45 respond better