6. Diagnosis

Diagnosis

There are two types of blood tests used for the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s disease. The first is to test your blood for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH levels become high in the blood when the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland of the brain then produces more TSH in an attempt to stimulate the production of T3 and T4. The second test is to determine the presence of antibodies against the enzyme thyroid peroxidase (TPO). If the immune system is attacking TPO, then these antibodies will be present.

5. Treatment with Levothyroxine

Levothyroxine

The thyroid hormone deficiencies caused by Hashimoto’s disease require treatment with synthetic thyroid hormones. Medications containing levothyroxine are identical to the thyroid hormones normally produced by your body. Levothyroxine is relatively inexpensive and patients with hypothyroidism require this medication for the rest of their lives. It is important to determine the correct dose, and this requires blood tests to check your levels of TSH when beginning therapy. Once the correct dose has been found, you will need to have your TSH levels checked about every 12 months.

4. Precautions Regarding Treatment

Treatment

It is important to maintain the correct dose of levothyroxine, as levels that are too low lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism. Meanwhile, doses of levothyroxine that are too high can also be dangerous. Excessive levels of levothyroxine can cause heart arrhythmias as well as increase bone loss and worsen osteoporosis. In cases of severe hypothyroidism, treatment must be started gradually and increased slowly. This gives the heart time to adjust to normal levels of thyroid hormone and the effect they have on the heart.

Related: 15 Thyroid Disease Symptoms You’re Ignoring
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