In a new study, researchers suggest that adults who have mild thyroid problems do not need to get hormone treatment.
They suggest that thyroid hormones should not be routinely offered to people with a mildly underactive thyroid gland (known as subclinical hypothyroidism).
Their strong recommendation against hormone treatment is based on new evidence, which shows that the treatment does not improve the quality of life or symptoms.
The research was conducted by a team of international experts.
Previous research has shown that subclinical hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid stimulating hormone levels in the bloodstream are slightly raised, while the level of thyroid hormone remains normal.
The problem affects about 10-15% of the elderly.
Common symptoms may include mild fatigue, low mood, and weight gain.
Currently, the condition can only be detected by a blood test.
In the study, the team conducted a systematic review of 21 published studies involving 2,200 participants.
They compared the effects of thyroid hormone treatment with no treatment or placebo in adults with a mild thyroid problem.
They found that there were no benefits from hormone treatment on fatigue, low mood, weight gain or any other outcomes that were tested.
Therefore, they make a strong recommendation against thyroid hormones for almost all adults with the problem.
They also suggest that thyroid hormones cannot be cost effective.
The team suggests that their recommendation does not apply to women who are trying to become pregnant or patients with particularly high thyroid stimulating hormone levels (above 20 mIU/L).
It may also not apply to patients with severe symptoms or some aged under 30.
The study is published in The BMJ.
It is part of The BMJ’s ‘Rapid Recommendations’ initiative, which produces rapid and trustworthy guidance based on new evidence to help doctors make better decisions with their patients.
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