Thyroid disease is a common affliction for people in Goodyear and throughout Arizona. But new research shows that hundreds of thousands of patients every year might be taking prescriptions they don’t actually need for their thyroid conditions.
Hormone Therapy Offers Little Benefit for Hypothyroidism Sufferers
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that makes hormones that control many of the body’s metabolic processes. Too much hormone production results in hyperthyroidism and too little, hypothyroidism. It is this second disorder that an international team of researchers believes is being overtreated by physicians. They collected data from 21 clinical trials involving 2,192 participants, most of whom were aged 65 or older. Those with subclinical hypothyroidism were found to gain no benefit from hormone therapy, according to results published in the May 14 issue of The BMJ. This has led to new guidelines urging against treating hypothyroidism with synthetic hormone.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid glands produce too little thyroid hormone, slowing down metabolism. People with this disorder often experience fatigue, weight gain, joint and muscle pain, puffy face, constipation, intolerance to cold, slow heartrate, dry skin, thinning hair, decreased sweating, heavy or irregular menstrual periods, fertility problems and depression. Hypothyroidism affects about one in 20 people in Goodyear and is more common in women and older adults.
What Treatments Are There for Hypothyroidism
Treatment for hypothyroidism typically involves a lifetime regimen of drugs that replace the missing thyroid hormone. The research team found that these daily pills don’t do much to improve the symptoms of hypothyroidism for most individuals. With little payoff, taking pills every day may not be worth the trouble. Too many doctors fall into the trap of prescribing medication because it’s the expected course of treatment for people with too little thyroid hormone.
Obviously, every case is unique. If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor is likely to have you try out pills for a few months to see if they make a difference in your symptoms. Some people will, in fact, show improvement.
If you are currently taking thyroid medication, do not stop! Instead, have a chat with your Goodyear ENT specialist to review how well drugs are working for you. Your individual results will determine whether changes in treatment are warranted.