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Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy

Thyroid Hormone Therapy

What are thyroid hormones?

The thyroid gland is located at the anterior aspect of your neck. There are two lobes of the thyroid, with one on each side. The primary function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormones using iodine from food. Two essential hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are synthesized.

Thyroid cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the bloodstream. They are transported throughout the body, where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). These hormones will manage how the body uses and stores energy. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for the regulation of their metabolism. 


How do I know if I have hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of thyroid hormone and gradual loss of thyroid function. Since thyroid hormones can impact the whole body, there are multiple different clinical presentations people might have. The most common symptom people will experience is feeling tired, exhausted, or low energy. According to the community survey, hypothyroidism is estimated at 0.1 to 2 percent. Prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism is higher, ranging from 4 to 10 percent in adults. A higher frequency is identified in older females. Some people might not have symptoms, even with hypothyroidism. 


What are the common symptoms of hypothyrodism?

Besides low energy, other common signs are related to hypothyroidism are: 

- Cold intolerance

- Constipation

- Slow heartbeats

- Weight gain

- Depression

- Hair loss

- Coarse hair and skin

- Menstrual irregularities

- Muscle soreness

- Voice hoarseness

- Slow movement

- Slow speech

These changes are often more easily recognized in young people, and they may be attributed to aging in older populations.


However, do I need to see a provider?

If it is not treated, hypothyroidism can also weaken and slow your heart. This can make you feel out of breath or tired when you exercise and cause swelling (fluid buildup) in your ankles. Untreated hypothyroidism can also increase your blood pressure and raise your cholesterol – both of which increase the risk of heart trouble.

In women, hypothyroidism can disrupt monthly periods. It can also make it hard to get pregnant. In women who do get pregnant, hypothyroidism can cause problems. For instance, it can increase the chances of having a miscarriage. (A miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends on its own before the woman has been pregnant for 20 weeks.)

Seek medical care if your symptoms are bothering you or you desire to become pregnant. 


Is there a test for hypo or hyperthyroidism?

The most common serum test to assess thyroid function is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone(TSH). Other tests include serum free T4 and serum T3. The changes in these markers might reflect hypothyroidism. Discuss with Dr. Zi for an evaluation based on your need and concern. 


How are the symptoms of thyroid disorders treated?

Treatment for hypothyroidism involves taking thyroid hormone every day.

After you start taking thyroid medication for about 6 weeks, your provider will order a blood test to monitor the effect of hormonal therapy. It might need to adjust the dose depending on your body reaction, and the lab tests reflect. 

There are different brand name and generic forms for thyroid medication. The generic form of T4 is levothyroxine, and T3 is liothyronine. Other compounding thyroid hormones are also available. If you decide to switch from a formula to a generic form or vice versa, please contact your medical provider. 

It is never recommended you change your dose of thyroid hormone on your own. Taking too much thyroid hormone can cause heart rhythm problems and even damage your bones.


What are Bio-Identical Hormones?

"Bio-Identical" refers to a hormone with the same molecular/chemical structure as a hormone that is endogenously produced in the human body. 


(Information Source: UpToDate: Diagnosis of and screening for hypothyroidism in nonpregnant adults)