How is hypothyroidism treated?

In most cases, hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the amount of hormone that your thyroid is no longer making. This is typically done with a medication. One medication that is commonly used is called levothyroxine. Taken orally, this medication increases the amount of thyroid hormone your body produces, evening out your levels.

Hypothyroidism is a manageable disease. However, you will need to continuously take medication to normalize the amount of hormones in your body for the rest of your life. With careful management, and follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to make sure your treatment is working properly, you can lead a normal and healthy life.

What happens if hypothyroidism is not treated?

Hypothyroidism can become a serious and life-threatening medical condition if you do not get treatment from a healthcare provider. If you are not treated, your symptoms can become more severe and can include:

  • Developing mental health problems.
  • Having trouble breathing.
  • Not being able to maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Having heart problems.
  • Developing a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland).

You can also develop a serious medical condition called myxedema coma. This can happen when hypothyroidism isn’t treated.

Will I have the same dose of medication for hypothyroidism my entire life?

The dose of your medication can actually change over time. At different points in your life, you may need to have the amounts of medication changed so that it manages your symptoms. This could happen because of things like weight gain or weight loss. Your levels will need to be monitored throughout your life to make sure your medication is working correctly.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/19/2020.

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