Thyroid disease is pretty common in Abington and throughout the U.S.; doctors estimate about 20 million people are affected – and up to 60 percent aren’t even aware of their condition.
New research indicates those who are receiving treatment for one common type of thyroid disorder might not be benefitting and that physicians should reconsider their approach.
Is Hypothyroidism Treatment Ineffective?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck responsible for producing hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism.
Excessive hormone production causes hyperthyroidism and insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism. It is this latter disease that may not respond to treatment as well as previously thought.
Hypothyroidism occurs when too little thyroid hormone is produced.
This slows down metabolism, causing a wide range of symptoms that include fatigue, weight gain, joint and muscle pain, puffiness in the face, constipation, intolerance to cold, slow heart-rate, dry skin, thinning hair, lack of perspiration, heavy or irregular menstruation, fertility problems and depression.
About one in 20 people in Abington suffer from hypothyroidism and they are most likely to be female; women are 5-8x as likely to experience thyroid disease as men.
Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves taking a synthetic thyroid hormone for life.
However, an international team of researchers has found this daily pill regimen doesn’t do much for a majority of patients.
They gathered data from 21 clinical trials involving 2,192 patients, most of whom were 65 or older.
Their report, published in the May 14 issue of The BMJ, indicates that few patients benefit from treatment; medication does little to relieve symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and doctors tend to over-treat the disease because they have been conditioned to do so.
New guidelines strongly recommending against treating hypothyroidism with replacement thyroid hormones.
They caution that people diagnosed with hypothyroidism in Abington and elsewhere should still try out hormone replacement therapy for a few months, as some individuals do show improvement with drugs. But with very little payoff for others, it makes little sense to continue a costly regimen for life.
If you’re being treated for hypothyroidism, talk to your Pinnacle ear, nose and throat specialist and assess whether synthetic thyroid hormone is making a positive difference in your life.
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