Thyroid Conditions: The Disease Your Doctor Might Miss
Getting the Right Treatment
There's no cure for an over- or underactive thyroid, and doctors don't know of any way to prevent the disorders. People who suffer from either one have to take hormone pills daily for life. Fortunately, they are highly effective. "Since I've been taking medication, I've had a lot more energy," says Elizabeth. Even after the condition is under control, patients need to get regular blood tests to monitor their thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels.
An overactive thyroid is typically controlled by shrinking the gland with radioactive iodine to halt hormone production. This results in an underactive thyroid, which doctors then treat using the hormone. Though radioactive iodine is very effective, it can take months to completely disable the gland and then find the right amount of replacement hormone.
For six months after radioactive iodine treatment, Lenore was lethargic and depressed, and suffered from severe muscle cramps. She also gained about 35 pounds. Her doctors finally found the right amount of thyroid replacement and she returned to her normal weight. These days Lenore gets her thyroid level checked every six months, though she's so attuned to her body that she generally knows when her medication needs to be adjusted. And she finally feels like her old self again. "I'm calm, confident and better than ever," she says.
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