Misunderstandings in Identifying and Treating Hypothyroidism

MAY 06, 2017
Amy Jacob

According to Kathleen “Kittie” Wyne, MD, PhD, The Ohio State University, in the identification and treatment of hypothyroidism, people need to be aware that the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism can be non-specific.
“We look at the constellation of symptoms to identify people for testing, and then with treatment tell them we think these are associated with your thyroid, they should get better; it takes 2-3 months for a dose change to come to a steady state.” Wyne continued; however, that they don’t always remind them that not all those symptoms are attributable to the hypothyroidism. In that regard, patients need to realize if their symptoms persist even after treating for hypothyroidism, they need to find out what else is the root cause.
Specifically in young women, there needs to be an understanding that the thyroid doesn’t cause every bit of fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, dry hair, and etc. It may be contributing, but not necessarily the cause. According to Wyne, the problem comes at the time of menopause, because symptoms of menopause could also be symptoms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism. But, a patient doesn’t want to be told there is nothing wrong with the thyroid, it must be hormones and menopause.
“And it’s very hard to convince people, and you don’t want to make people feel bad; you want them to understand that you take them seriously, that you are doing a serious evaluation. But, if you can’t help them, giving them a medication they don’t need could hurt them,” Wyne concluded.

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