The endocrine system is made up of the glands in the body that produce hormones. Some hormones such as estrogen affect the body’s organs and functions directly, while hormones like prolactin control the production and action of other hormones. When the endocrine system produces too many or too few hormones, the resulting imbalance can lead to many types of disorders.
Mercy physicians are experts in diagnosing, treating and helping to prevent endocrine disorders. Depending on the type and severity of the disorder, treatment may include hormone replacement therapy, surgery, medication or other treatments.
Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism, which is how the body uses energy. People who do not produce enough thyroid have a condition called hypothyroidism. Mercy physicians usually treat hypothyroidism by prescribing thyroid replacement medication to bring thyroid hormone levels up to normal. Most people need to take this medication for the rest of their lives, with regular blood tests to ensure the amount of medication is correct and adjust it as needed.
The opposite of hypothyroidism is hyperthyroidism, which happens when your body makes too much thyroid hormone. Treatment may include antithyroid medication, radioactive iodine treatment or removal of the thyroid gland or part of it by surgery.
Mercy physicians may prescribe antithyroid medication to lower thyroid levels. Blood tests generally improve within eight weeks. Most people take this medication daily for a year or two. Your physician may be able to stop antithyroid medications after a year or two depending on your thyroid blood tests. Often, thyroidhormone levels remain normal even after the medication is stopped.
Depending on various factors, we may recommend radioactive iodine. This destroys part of the thyroid gland to reduce hormone production. Since only the thyroid absorbs iodine, the rest of your body is not affected. Patients take the iodine in a capsule or as a liquid, and most people only need a single dose.
If antithyroid medicines and radioactive iodine are not options for you, you may need thyroidectomy surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland.
While you are being treated for hyperthyroidism, your Mercy team will monitor your hormone levels with blood tests to ensure they don’t decrease too much.
Our endocrinologists at Mercy specialize in hormone disorders. We’ll determine the best treatment options for you and do all we can to get your hormones and your health back in balance.