Hypothyroidism is not a debilitating illness unless it’s left untreated for so long that it causes other illnesses to develop. Goiter, infertility, mental health problems, and heart failure are examples of conditions that can stem from untreated hypothyroidism. But even with treatment, symptoms can still appear. These are the things patients need to watch out for and learn to identify.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
An underactive thyroid cannot produce the ideal amount of hormones that the body needs to be 100% healthy and functional. This condition, however, doesn’t have noticeable symptoms like a sharp pain, limited movement, bruises, or the like. It can take a while before a patient realizes that they might have hypothyroidism, and it’s only then that they would finally understand why they are experiencing the following:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Weak and sometimes sore, stiff muscles
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Hoarse voice
- Slow heart rate
- Poor memory
- Thinning hair
On their own, these symptoms may seem easily treatable. If you’re diagnosed with hypothyroidism, however, you may have to deal with these for years. It’s important, therefore, to learn how to manage them on top of taking your prescribed medication.
Practical Symptom Management Tips
Weight gain is one of the pressing problems of hypothyroidism because it slows down your metabolism. You must, therefore, learn to manage your diet. Plan nutritious, well-balanced meals with lots of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fat, and whole grains. Avoid processed food and stay away from kelp, iodine, and soy (early studies show that they can disrupt thyroid function and the body’s ability to absorb medication).
Dress in layers
If you are especially sensitive to the cold, you could end up shivering in your air-conditioned office while the sun shines outside in the summer. The best way to deal with cold sensitivity, therefore, is to wear layers. You can just take off one or two layers when you start feeling warm. If you have hypothyroidism, it helps when you’re somewhere that has very warm summers and chilly winters. Alternatively, you can keep a thick scarf or jacket in your bag or car so that you’re always prepared when the chills creep up.
Take power naps in the afternoon
If you routinely feel tired in the afternoons, you can take naps instead of trying to fight off the drowsiness with caffeine. Sleep for 30 minutes max: it’s long enough that you can recharge, but not too long that you fall into a deep sleep. It’s harder to rebound and get back to work mode when that happens. Brief naps halfway through the day can also help you sleep better at night.
Take your medicine on time
Consistency is crucial for hypothyroid medication and hormone treatment. It has to be taken at the same time, in the same manner, every day. The American Thyroid Association recommends taking it early in the morning before breakfast because food in the stomach may affect the body’s absorption of the medicine.
Form an amiable, trusting relationship with your endocrinologist and pharmacist
Hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition. Depending on how early it is detected and diagnosed, you could need prescriptions and treatment for decades. It will benefit you greatly to have a good relationship with the specialists who’ll play a huge role in maintaining your health and quality of life.
If you can manage your symptoms properly, you will hardly notice that your body is dealing with an underactive thyroid. Be proactive and follow these tips to keep your health and well-being on the right track.