Whether you’re recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism or have been living with an underactive thyroid for years, despite your illness, there are several things you can do to feel better and live well. Most of these effective strategies include being aware of your mental health, reaching out for support to your loved ones, participating in healthy lifestyle habits, and developing an effective, understanding partnership with your thyroid physician.
A very common thyroid disease is hypothyroidism.
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The thyroid inside the throat is a butterfly-shaped gland. Hypothyroidism is a condition when the thyroid gland cannot make enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. Thyroid hormone production is regulated by a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland. It produces the essential hormones called triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4. Its function is to regulate T3 and T4 production, and its levels in the body indicate how much thyroid stimulation a person needs to release the right amount of these hormones. These are like oil and petrol: not enough and things start rusting, the engine begins to splutter and die. These hormones are crucial, as they help in controlling your metabolism, weight, and cholesterol levels. This kind of thyroid disorder is more common among women than men and happens to increase in incidence with age.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Common causes of adult hypothyroidism include thyroiditis of Hashimoto, an autoimmune form of overactive thyroid, lymphocytic thyroiditis that may occur following hyperthyroidism (underactive thyroid), thyroid destruction from radioactive iodine, or surgery, pituitary or hypothalamic disease, medication, and severe iodine deficiency.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Thyroid hormones affect multiple systems of organs, so the symptoms of hypothyroidism are broad and diverse.
It may be entirely asymptomatic or may have several specific symptoms. But, when your thyroid is not active enough, you may have symptoms like
Slowed heart rate
The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test assesses the thyroid function and levels of thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland which tells your thyroid, located in the lower front of your neck, produces and releases hormones that control our body temperature, metabolism, and keep our brains, hearts, and other organs functioning correctly. Thyroid issues can result due to autoimmune disorder or from getting your thyroid removed.
The TSH blood test is often administered as a part of a panel of blood tests in conjunction with an annual health exam. The test determines how well your thyroid is working by measuring the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. It’s a non-fasting blood test that means you don’t have to do anything special to prepare.
If hypothyroidism is left untreated then symptoms can become more severe or serious complications, such as goiter, heart failure, heart rhythm problems, mental health problems, myxedema coma, infertility, and birth defects may occur. An underactive thyroid can coexist with depression and anxiety.
You can help manage hypothyroidism by leading an overall healthy lifestyle that includes eating well and exercising.
It is important for you to maintain a normal weight to enjoy good thyroid health, in addition to taking your thyroid medication and adopting healthy habits every day. The issue of weight gain or weight loss in hypothyroidism is indeed a big concern. Studies indicate that, on average, weight decreases in hypothyroidism is only modestly or transiently following the treatment. In many people suffering from hypothyroidism, weight gain, or inability to lose weight is a major concern for the quality of life. Exercise and eating right are two keys to improve your thyroid health and manage your weight.
It can be a challenge to nourish your body with the right foods when you are dealing with thyroid problems. Although there is no diet for hypothyroidism, you should focus your meals on veggies, fruit, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. And, you can eat small meals all day long to keep your energy levels stable. A common symptom of hypothyroidism is weight gain, so eating well can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Most foods (e.g. high-fiber foods) and supplements (e.g. iron, calcium) may significantly impact how you absorb levothyroxine, so speak about these foods and supplements to your doctor.
You already know how beneficial exercise is, but are you doing enough? Exercise can boost energy, reduce stress, and help you maintain a healthy weight, particularly if you have hypothyroidism.
The tips on lifestyle form part of a healthy lifestyle. And, although there is no cure for hypothyroidism, taking your medication can help you lead a healthy life in addition to incorporating these changes in lifestyle.
If you have hypothyroidism, you may feel tired throughout the day. Establishing and sticking to a sleep schedule helps. Go to bed and wake up every day at the same time, including weekends. The sweet spot to sleep is generally between 7 and 9 hours.
Make sure you add plenty of calcium and folic acid to your diet. These nutrients and other needed vitamins and minerals can be obtained from food and a standard multivitamin. Spinach, broccoli, oranges, and kidney beans are rich in folic acid. Calcium is packed in milk, yogurt, and spinach. Nevertheless, a daily prenatal multivitamin can help ensure that you get the right amount.
6.Quit Smoking and Alcohol
Smoke contains substances that affect both thyroid gland function and the thyroid gland as well. One of the components of tobacco is cyanide which is converted to the chemical thiocyanate that is known to interfere with thyroid function when smoked. Similarly, alcohol consumption and thyroid are strongly linked. As the researchers point out, heavy drinking can cause 60 different illnesses and is another major contributing factor in another 200 conditions. It affects every organ in your body, including the thyroid gland. Current evidence suggests that alcohol suppresses T3 (triiodothyronine, another primary thyroid hormone) and T4 production while reducing the volume of thyroid substances.
Dealing with a lifelong condition like hypothyroidism is not an easy thing, so finding yourself facing a range of emotions, such as anger, frustration, or sadness, is quite normal. Physical stresses, such as insufficient sleep, a sedentary lifestyle, or deficiencies in nutrition, could only add to such feelings. Be mindful of depression-like symptoms and anxiety-like feeling, getting overwhelmed and irritable, or having trouble sleeping or concentrating. If you lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy or feel sad most days, be sure to call your doctor. It can be tricky to try to sort out those feelings, which is why it is sometimes best done with the help of a therapist.