Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, has a lifelong impact on bodily function and overall wellness. Treating hypothyroidism requires consistent daily dosing of thyroid hormone replacement therapy and usually a number of thyroid-supporting supplements. Even one missed dose can result in notable dysfunction and resurgence of hypothyroid symptoms. To reduce the risk of missing a dose, many thyroid patients utilize mnemonic devices and reminders. Read on to learn more about hypothyroidism, common treatments, and tips to maintain consistent dosing.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a common condition that slows function of the thyroid gland. This small structure located in the neck is responsible for regulating the energy level of virtually every cell in the body through the release of various hormones. The three primary thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine (T3), which increases cellular activity, reverse Triiodothyronine (RT3), which inhibits the effects of T3 thereby slowing activity, and thyroxine (T4), the storage form of thyroid hormone that may be converted into T3 or RT3.
When working as intended, the thyroid releases hormones of the appropriate type and value to trigger an increase or decrease in bodily function. Some of the most notable areas impacted through this process are metabolism, energy level, focus, weight regulation, and cognitive ability – learn more about the thyroid gland here.
In the case of hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not produce enough active thyroid hormone to keep the body running at its best. The result is a widespread decline and slowing of bodily function. This is often accompanied by symptoms including but not limited to:
- “Brain Fog” or trouble focusing and remembering
- Low libido and infertility
- Muscle or joint aches or pains
- Sensitivity to cold
- Weight Gain
Fortunately, if hypothyroidism is diagnosed and properly treated, these symptoms can be alleviated, and healthy bodily function restored.
Treating an Underactive Thyroid
Hypothyroidism may be treated through various means. The most common method of treating hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement therapy. This involves providing the body with synthetic or natural thyroid hormones to resolve the deficit caused by slowed thyroid activity. When optimized for individual cases, this approach can be very successful.
Typically, thyroid hormone therapy requires taking a once daily pill at least an hour before the first meal of the day. The contents of the medication may include one or more of the following: synthetic T4 such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, and Unithroid, T3 formulations, combination T4/T3 medications, or bioidentical hormones. Each of these treatment types have their own pros and cons meaning that hypothyroid treatment can and should be optimized for individual patients.
In addition to thyroid hormone therapies, doctors may also recommend regular supplementation with various nutrients, vitamins, or minerals. Some commonly prescribed thyroid-supporting supplements include magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, zinc, and iodine. It is important to only take thyroid supplements under the care of a physician as imbalances of these substances can cause greater dysfunction.
4 Tips for Remembering Your Medications
If prescribed multiple thyroid medications and supplements requiring specific dosages and timing, it can quickly become a challenge trying to keep track of them. Rather than relying on memory alone, many individuals find that employing various tools and resources helps them better manage their various medications. Below are four easy ways to help you remember your medications.
Make Your Meds a Daily Habit
Incorporating your medication into an existing daily routine can be greatly beneficial in improving consistency. For example, most thyroid medications require that they be taken an hour prior to eating. Because of this, many thyroid patients make sure that their first action in the morning is to take their medication and then complete their morning ritual of showering, collecting their work-related items, making breakfast, etc. If your medications need to be taken at specific times throughout the day, try to include them in a routine that already exists in that time slot such as a during your lunch break or regular bedtime habit.
Utilize a Pill Box
Pill boxes are an excellent tool for keeping track of multiple daily medications. Typically, pill boxes are organized by days and weeks. However, there are other options available that can provide greater customization. Taking time to distribute your medications for the coming week or month makes the daily process of medicating simple. If done correctly you will be able to easily see if you have taken your medications for the day by simply checking if they are still in the pill box.
People often keep their medications in locations that are not easily visible. Although this has its benefits, there is value in having them stored in easily seen locations. If you see your medication when moving through the home, you are more likely to remember to take them. This does not mean you have to leave your pill bottles out on the counter. Rather, placing your medications in an inconspicuous but easily seen container may be enough of a reminder. Alternatively, some find that writing and placing reminders in prominent locations around the home such as the bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, or workspace is enough to keep them on track.
Alarms and Calendars
Many individuals utilize timers or notifications on their phone to remind them to take their medications. This is a particularly effective approach for those who have time sensitive medications or supplements that must be taken at specific points throughout the day. Additionally, creating an electronic or physical calendar solely for tracking your medications can provide some beneficial structure that may improve consistency.
Staying on Top of Your Treatments
Current treatments for hypothyroidism require daily dosage of thyroid medication and in many cases supplementation with other thyroid-supporting substances. Those taking multiple medications and supplements often find it difficult to track their various pills and complex dosing schedule. By employing the methods mentioned above, you can conquer this challenge and support regular dosing thereby facilitating optimal thyroid treatment.