The thyroid influences nearly every cell in the body and regulates important functions that impact energy level, weight, and cognitive ability. In the presence of thyroid disease or thyroidal malfunction, a person can experience a wide range of long-lasting symptoms. These symptoms can linger even after treatment is administered. This is often due to the fact that many thyroid patients are living with unresolved conditions or other factors that delay responsiveness to treatment. To understand the influence of these factors it is important to first have a solid comprehension of thyroid disease and the principles behind thyroid hormone treatment.
What is Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease comes in a variety of forms. Two of the most common being hypothyroidism, reduced thyroid function, and hyperthyroidism, hastened thyroid function. Other common thyroid conditions include autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease which lead to hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism respectively.
Thyroid disease promotes irregular thyroid activity and hormone imbalance resulting in a wide range of symptoms – get the full list of thyroid disease symptoms here.
Manifestation of symptoms is dependent primarily on hormone levels. A patient with excess thyroid hormone will exhibit symptoms that differ from a patient experiencing a deficiency. Increased levels of thyroid hormone trigger a hastening of bodily activity and symptoms such as anxiety, sudden weight loss, and greater sensitivity to heat. Alternatively, thyroid hormone deficiency slows bodily function causing symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and difficulty thinking clearly.
How Does Thyroid Replacement Therapy Help?
According to the American Thyroid Association, hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid condition affecting nearly 20 million Americans. If the thyroid is not producing enough hormones to maintain normal bodily function a doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to resolve the imbalance. This common treatment involves balancing specific hormone levels through supplementation. Typically, thyroid patients are given inactive thyroid hormone (T4), active thyroid hormone (T3), or some combination of the two to normalize bodily function.
There are many different forms of thyroid replacement medications ranging from synthetic to natural bioidentical formulations. The most common treatment is a synthetic form of inactive T4 known as Levothyroxine – find out why T4-only treatment doesn’t work for many people. However, other options include active natural desiccated thyroid hormones, natural or synthetic T3, and compounded medications.
How Optimizing Medication Can Improve Treatment Results
A major component of thyroid treatment is finding the optimal medication and dosage. For example, one patient may benefit greatly from a synthetic form of T4, like Levothyroxine or Synthroid, while another will only garner results from T3 or Natural Desiccated Thyroid formulations.
Without identifying the correct type of medication, it is unlikely that thyroid disease and its associated symptoms will improve. The same can be said about dosage. It is fairly common for initial prescriptions to be too low or too high. Typically, thyroid patients must endure a period of trial and error before reaching an optimal dosage. Once an appropriate balance has been achieved thyroid function and symptoms should improve. However, there are other factors that may hinder or completely block the effects of thyroid medication.
How Individual Patient Factors Can Impede Results
Each case of thyroid disease is unique and is influenced by individual patient factors. Because of this, every patient will benefit from their treatment at different times. In some cases, patients may see results as early as a few weeks while others may take months to years.
While treating hypothyroidism other conditions may inhibit the efficacy of thyroid medications. Adrenal fatigue has a significant impact on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPT) axis, which can impede thyroid function resulting in hypothyroidism and hormonal imbalance. Even at mild levels of deficiency, adrenal dysfunction can have a significant negative impact on thyroid hormone production, transport, conversion, and receptivity. Adrenal fatigue dramatically impedes the effect of thyroid medication and continually disrupts thyroid activity. Therefore, those with an unresolved adrenal disorder such as adrenal fatigue may never see improvement of their thyroid condition until the underlying adrenal issue is resolved.
Nutrient deficiencies may also impact thyroid medication and delay results. There are many different nutrients such as selenium, magnesium, vitamin D, iodine, and others that are critical for proper thyroid function. Deficiency in these areas can impede medication efficacy thereby postponing improvement. Balancing the levels of thyroid-related nutrients can support thyroid treatments thereby hastening the appearance of positive results.
The gut influences many systems in the body including the thyroid. Leaky gut syndrome, caused by breakage in the intestinal lining, allows harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. This triggers inflammation, inhibits nutrient absorption, and disrupts thyroid function. Leaky gut is frequently seen in conjunction with thyroid disease and should be resolved as part of the treatment protocol. If this is the primary cause of your thyroid dysfunction, thyroid medication will provide little benefit until the intestinal damage is repaired and leaky gut is resolved.
Supporting Other Systems to Get the Best Results
Because each case of thyroid disease is different, effective treatment requires more than simply prescribing the appropriate medication. Resolving any existing underlying issues such as adrenal dysfunction, nutrient deficiency, and gut malfunction is critical for treating a thyroid disorder. Furthermore, if such conditions have remained untreated for an extended period, it typically takes longer for the body to return to normalcy after thyroid treatment is administered. Without resolving contributing factors, thyroid medication is not likely to provide notable results leaving patients feel as though there is little to no benefit from their treatment.
Only after resolving contributing factors of thyroid dysfunction and finding the optimal medication and dosage will patients begin to experience results from their treatment. You can improve the efficacy of your treatment and support overall wellness by addressing various contributors of thyroid disease that may be present in your own body. Take charge of your health and improve treatment results by attending to the many factors that influence thyroid function.
1. Hypothyroidism. Holtorf Medical Group. https://www.holtorfmed.com/thyroid-disorders/
2. Why You Need to Address Adrenal Fatigue Before Thyroid Dysfunction. Holtorf Medical Group. https://www.holtorfmed.com/why-you-need-to-address-adrenal-fatigue-before-thyroid-dysfunction/
3. Starting Thyroid Medication: How Long Will It Take Me to Feel Well Again? The Invisible Hypothyroidism. https://theinvisiblehypothyroidism.com/2018/05/08/starting-thyroid-medication-how-long-will-it-take-me-to-feel-well-again/