Dangers of Thyroid Medication - Side Effects

Tess Thompson

A thyroid disease should not be left untreated. The hormones secreted by the thyroid gland are so crucial for the body’s metabolism that their adequacy is extremely necessary. Thyroid problems, regardless of whether it is a case of under-active or overactive thyroid, determine the way the body burns energy and makes proteins. The body’s sensitivity to other hormones also depends upon the adequacy or inadequacy of thyroid hormones.

Primarily, there are two thyroid conditions – either the thyroid produces lesser thyroid hormones than are necessary to maintain a healthy metabolic rate or it produces too much of the same hormones – causing you to be in an overdrive mode. There are other thyroid conditions also that are known by different names, but the net outcome of all is related to production of thyroid hormones. Though thyroid cancer is different from other thyroid conditions, it also affects the release of hormones in a similar manner.

Once thyroid disease has been identified, there is no other recourse than to treat it, since it is a condition that can potentially lead to serious conditions that can even prove to be fatal. Besides surgery, thyroid problems are conventionally treated with anti-thyroid drugs, hormone replacement and radioiodine therapy. This is, however, easier said than done! Like all conventional treatments, thyroid medication too has side effects.

Methimazole is a common anti-thyroid drug used in America. It is critical to monitor symptoms of fever and sore throat after administration of this drug. These could be the signs of an acute but uncommon blood disorder known as agranulocytosis. It is characterized by a severe reduction in white blood cells. Besides, the drug has other side effects like:

  • Itching and skin rash.
  • Gastric upsets.
  • Abnormal sensations.
  • Joint and muscle pains.
  • Loss of taste.
  • Drowsiness and vomiting.
  • Severe hair loss.

In the event of lesser hormones being produced, the most common therapy used is to cover the deficiency in hormones with the aid of synthetic thyroid hormones or those sourced from animal tissue. The therapy may have to be continued through out life. Administration of exogenous hormones requires regular monitoring because there is a strong possibility of the under-active thyroid condition turning in an overactive one.

Radioiodine therapy for treating an overactive thyroid has been in use since 1940s. It should not be taken during pregnancy or breast feeding, as it could have an adverse effect on the baby. The major side effect of radioiodine therapy is that the damage to the thyroid gland cannot be controlled and there also is a risk of trading one thyroid condition for another. The overactive thyroid may turn under-active.

It all ends up on balancing the benefits with the side effects. However, there are alternatives which one can put to good use to ensure optimal thyroid health.

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