Ask the Experts: Is Primary Hypothyroidism Curable?
The thyroid is a tiny gland that plays a big role in bodily function: it controls metabolism, regulates heart rate, and even affects cholesterol levels. When the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it affects the entire body and can leave you feeling miserable. That is why the first question from thyroid patients is often whether hypothyroidism is curable. But before we can address the question of “Is primary hypothyroidism curable?”, we must first discuss what primary hypothyroidism is and what causes it.
What Is Primary Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid works together with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus (both located in the brain) to produce thyroid hormones. The hypothalamus releases thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which in turn prompts the thyroid to release it’s two hormones, T3 and T4. When everything is functioning normally, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland sense when thyroid hormone levels are too low or too high and increase or reduce their hormone production to regulate the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism (a.k.a. underactive thyroid) occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. There are three types of hypothyroidism: primary, secondary, and tertiary. In secondary hypothyroidism the pituitary gland isn’t producing enough TSH to properly stimulate the thyroid, while in tertiary the hypothalamus isn’t producing enough TRH. In both these cases, the problem lies outside the thyroid. With primary hypothyroidism, however, the thyroid is being properly stimulated but it still isn’t able to produce enough T3 and T4. The problem lies in the thyroid itself.
What Causes Primary Hypothyroidism?
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is believed that Hashimoto’s is responsible for more than 90% of hypothyroid cases, but it often goes undiagnosed because Hashimoto’s requires specific antibody testing and it typically doesn’t change traditional hypothyroid treatment plans.
Hypothyroidism can also be caused by a congenital disease, insufficient dietary iodine, viral thyroiditis (an infection of the thyroid), certain drugs, and pregnancy or postpartum. If you had thyroid cancer and part or all of your thyroid was surgically removed, you will have primary hypothyroidism. An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can also lead to primary hypothyroidism as common treatments for hyperthyroidism include surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid and radioactive iodine (which destroys the thyroid).
What Are The Symptoms Of Primary Hypothyroidism?
The symptoms of hypothyroidism vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the disease. The most common symptoms include:
- Brain fog
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Paleness or puffiness in the face
- Sensitivity to cold
- Slow heartbeat
- Thinning or brittle hair/hair loss
- Weight gain
Is Primary Hypothyroidism Curable?
Primary hypothyroidism can’t be cured, but it can be controlled very effectively through medication and diet. At Anchor Wellness Center, we use bioidentical hormones to bring your thyroid levels back to a normal range, reducing or eliminating your symptoms and allowing your body to function normally. Unlike synthetic hormones which can have severe side effects, bioidentical hormones are derived from natural sources and identical to hormones produced by the human body, making them easy to absorb and less likely to have side effects.
As part of your thyroid treatment, Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM will also perform blood tests to check for thyroid antibodies to determine whether your primary hypothyroidism is being caused by Hashimoto’s. This is important to determine because Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition, which means your immune system is attacking the thyroid. Thyroid supplements will treat the symptoms, but it does not stop the autoimmune response. As a Board Certified physician in Family Medicine, as well as with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra will develop a personalized treatment plan that helps support your immune system and reduce inflammation to help reduce the autoimmune response and prevent further damage to your thyroid.
To schedule a consultation, call us today at (832) 246-8437.