If you have a thyroid disorder such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Grave's disease, or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, you may be seeing an endocrinologist for treatment. While endocrinologists are specialists in the diagnosis and management of thyroid and other endocrine-related disorders, your family practice physician also has the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage your condition. Here are three ways your family practice physician can manage your thyroid condition, and how you can contribute to your recovery:
If you believe you have a thyroid disorder, see your family practitioner, who will not only recommend a thyroid panel blood test, but will also check your neck for nodules and goiter. If your thyroid hormones are abnormal, you may develop a goiter, which looks like a large swelling in your central neck.
If your doctor feels an abnormality, he or she may recommend an ultrasound scan, which will help determine if your swelling is cause for concern. Tell your health care provider if you have difficulty swallowing, neck pain, back pain, or a pressure-like feeling in your throat, as these symptoms can be indicative of a goiter. Once your doctor prescribes the appropriate thyroid medication, your goiter and resultant neck swelling will probably resolve.
Thyroid disorders respond well to medications such as thyroid hormone replacement preparations. While these medications can help you feel better, your thyroid function needs to be checked regularly to make sure that your medication is working.
Your doctor will order blood tests to determine your thyroid levels, and will adjust your medications based on the results of your lab results. Some people require the lowest of dosages, while others may require the highest. While thyroid medications do a good job of relieving symptoms, the wrong dosages can cause hair loss, palpitations, stomach problems, shaking, and dry skin.
An under active thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, can cause fatigue, depression, itchy skin, constipation, feeling cold all the time, and excessive weight gain. Conversely, an over active thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, can lead to excessive sweating, diarrhea, heart problems, and weight loss.
Hypothyroidism can cause your metabolism to slow down, while an over active thyroid can cause a fast metabolism. Your doctor can recommend a healthy diet to manage your weight based upon your endocrine situation. He or she may also recommend an exercise program to keep you healthy, and may also recommend that you work with a nutritionist to help you make healthy food choices.
If you have a thyroid condition, work with your family practice doctor to develop an effective plan of care to ensure that you are eating right, managing your weight, and taking your prescribed medications. Once your thyroid hormone levels are within normal limits, you will feel much better.