High TSH levels usually indicate an underactive thyroid and are treated with synthetic thyroid hormones, according to Mayo Clinic. TSH is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, also known as thyroid-stimulating hormone. A high level indicates that the thyroid is not producing enough hormone.
The TSH level helps the doctor determine what amount of synthetic thyroid hormone to prescribe, Mayo Clinic explains. Within two weeks of treatment, most patients find they feel better. Sometimes it takes time to find the correct dosage. Symptoms of too much synthetic thyroid hormone include heart palpitations, insomnia and increased appetite.
Some medications and dietary supplements can prohibit the body from absorbing the synthetic hormone, which makes it important for patients to tell the doctor everything they are taking, Mayo Clinic says. Iron and calcium supplements and some antacids may affect how thyroid medication is absorbed.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, high cholesterol, weight gain, memory loss and depression, Mayo Clinic states. The condition primarily affects women, mostly over the age of 60. Autoimmune disease, recent pregnancy and radiation treatment are additional risk factors. Some medications, including lithium, can contribute to the condition.
Hypothyroidism, when untreated, can contribute to a wide variety of health problems, including heart disease, nerve damage, infertility, birth defects and mental health issues, Mayo Clinic says. It is important to have the thyroid checked if symptoms are present.