Over 200 million individuals worldwide suffer from some type of thyroid condition. While thyroid conditions are treatable in a majority of cases, leaving them untreated can result in serious consequences to your health.
When you understand the disorders and treatment options, it helps you to cope better with the condition.
While there are different sets of symptoms related to hyper and hypothyroidism, all of them do not occur in a patient with the condition. Patients with thyroid conditions are frequently anxious or irritable due to the symptoms, which eventually subside with the right treatment.
Hypothyroidism is the most common condition, which is treated using different methods.
We will examine the efficacy of various thyroid treatment options in this post.
Various thyroid treatment options
The use of synthetic hormones, such as Synthroid or Levothyroxine, which have a high concentration of T4 hormone, is the staple treatment option in conventional treatment.
While the synthetic hormonal replacement helped to control the symptoms of hypothyroidism, they are often considered unnecessary in borderline thyroid conditions.
In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014, it has been indicated that the use of synthetic hormones resulted in suppressed levels of thyrotropin resulting in greater harm than benefit to the patients. The retrospective study included data related to the level of thyrotropin for a span of 5 years from the time of initiation of levothyroxine therapy in patients with hypothyroidism.
The study results show that synthetic hormones, like Synthroid, are indicated only when the hypothyroid symptoms are clear and indicate the presence of autoantibodies, and in individuals with heart failure or cardiovascular disease (atherosclerotic) evidence.
The continual use of the synthetic hormones can cause increased osteoporosis risk and also the risk of forming atrial fibrillation.
Using Natural Thyroid Extracts
Due to the obvious side effects of synthetic hormone use, the use of natural alternative, like Armour thyroid, came into practice. Armour Thyroid, which has both T3 and T4, is considered superior to the synthetic preparations, like Synthroid, as it is not associated with the risk factors like osteoporosis.
However, it comes with the risk of thyrotoxicosis in case of improper dosage of the extract in relation to serum TSH levels.
This is of particular concern in case of thyroid cancer condition where the extract is used.
However, when compared to Synthroid medications Armour thyroid showed better patient compliance in a study published in the JCEM (The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism) in 2013.
This is due to two main reasons. The symptoms of the condition were relieved better and also the patients lost weight during the treatment.
Thus, about half of the patients studied (about 48.6%) indicated a preference for Armour Thyroid over Synthroid medications.
The study indicates that although improvement of the condition was the same with the two medications, the above cited reasons resulted in the desiccated or Armour thyroid therapy being a more preferred choice.
Use of synthetic L T3
L T3 is available as Cytomel in the United States. It is used for the advantage it offers in bypassing the conversion of T4-T3 stage.
The use of Cytomel is also indicated in case of patients who do not find Armour thyroid effective.
But Cytomel cannot be used on its own as pure L-T3 does not allow the production of tissue and time-specific T3. You need to use T3 in combination with T4 to get the desired effect on symptoms. Multiple dosages are also required for sustaining the T3 levels in the body as it has a shorter duration of action when compared to the L T4 medications.
Further, Cytomel is not indicated in patients with conditions, such as congestive heart failure and other cardiopulmonary diseases of acute nature. This is because the low T3 levels slow down the metabolism, which is actually beneficial. But in case of hyperthyroid conditions without accompanying cardiac conditions, this is not an issue.
Recommended therapy choice
While the alternative choices are preferred by a section of the population, a comprehensive study recommends the use of levothyroxine preparation as the ideal choice. This is because of its efficient resolution of hypothyroidism symptoms, less number of side effects, easy and inexpensive dosage, and better absorption.
The American Thyroid Association study involved asking patients on the drug treatment 24 questions on the effect, response, and efficacy of Levothyroxine. The study concluded that the synthetic form is recommended as the standard for the treatment of hypothyroidism as the product had improved health benefits in the patients studied during the clinical review.
When the various pros and cons of the different forms of treatment options available are reviewed, it is clear that no single form has a superior resolving capacity than the rest. Each format has a specific drawback that makes it unsuitable for common use.
However, Levothyroxine therapy has been used for a long time as the main treatment option and has shown good results until now. Further, with the study done by American Thyroid Association supporting the use of Levothyroxine over other alternative forms, it is clear that Synthroid and other similar Levothyroxine forms offer better relief and patient response. Armour thyroid may be considered if you exhibit specific undesirable side effects on using Levothyroxine therapy.