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Low Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions

Written by Michele Houck
January 22, 2023
Low Thyroid Symptoms and Solutions
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Your thyroid's job is to control the speed of your metabolism. Thyroid helps regulate heart rate, maintain healthy skin, and is crucial to regulate metabolism. When the gland is sluggish (hypothyroidism), it can rob you of energy, focus, dry out your skin, make your joints ache and cause weight gain.

I remember this conversation clearly.

Doctor: "You have a goiter."

Me: "What??! What is THAT? I was 35 years old.

The conversation spiraled thru a list of symptoms that I thought fairly typical in mid-thirties female life. I was tired and had difficulty concentrating, but that's normal, right? I work a lot, have kids, and care for my parents; of course, I am tired! Why yes, there is more hair in my hair brush than typical..." but WHAT?

Dang, it. The thyroid panel test revealed I have low thyroid, specifically Hashimoto's.

Low Thyroid

Low thyroid, or hypothyroidism, is a condition where my thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism. It helps regulate the fuel and chemical engine of your body.

A thyroid is a hormone machine designed to keep your body in a perfect equilibrium or “homeostasis” (holding temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels stable). When thyroid hormones are out of whack, effects are seen in almost every cell in your body, even hair follicles.

Low Thyroid Symptoms

One of the many reasons that this disorder can go undiagnosed for so many women is that this can just feel like life + aging.

  • Anxiety, forgetfulness, and irritability
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Cold intolerance and dry skin
  • Depression
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Irregular menstrual periods
Woman researching thyroid conditions online

Women are more likely than men to have too little or too much thyroid hormone and are particularly likely to develop thyroid disease during pregnancy and in middle age.

Get a Thyroid Hormone Panel Test

A thyroid panel is a blood test. These tests can be the detectives to help point you to solutions.

This blood test measures the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland located at the base of your brain.

Our thyroid makes three primary hormones that help with metabolism management.

  • triiodothyronine (T3)
  • thyroxine (T4)
  • calcitonin

Thyroid test centers and affordable tests are available at HealthLabs.com; they have excellent reviews (Trust Pilot 4.9 out of 5), many are open Saturdays, and they offer blood tests without needing a doctor’s prescription.

Another solution is PersonalLabs.com. They partner with Quest diagnostics and also have telehealth and affordable pharmacy options.

Is it Curable?

Not typically, but it is treatable and manageable with daily medication and diet. Thyroid conditions aren’t life-threatening but can affect your quality of life.

Nutrition Matters

Diet plays a significant role in managing hypothyroidism.

What to eat

Certain nutrients are needed for the thyroid to produce hormones, including iodine, selenium, and tyrosine. Iodine is found in seafood and dairy products, while selenium is in nuts and seeds. Tyrosine is an amino acid in lean meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also provide essential vitamins and minerals.

What NOT to eat

Certain foods can interfere with thyroid function, such as foods high in goitrogens and soy foods. Examples are broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage.

Soy foods contain phytoestrogens compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, which can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Examples are tofu, soymilk, and edamame.

Need inspiration?

Check out the specialty diets section by Balance by BistroMD, a meal prep, and delivery service, if you need inspiration. They have natural ingredients prepared in small batches for delicious meals.

You can consult a physician or nutritionist for tips on managing your low thyroid with a proper diet. They can help you make a meal plan to meet your needs and considers your other health conditions.

We found an online resource that gives you a free shopping list. She's got low thyroid and loves to cook.

There are so many lists of foods we're not supposed to eat as thyroid patients. It's such a bummer! That's why I wanted to put together this list of foods we CAN eat! - Ginny
Elderly lady hiking outside with a friend.

Low Thyroid Can Lead to Other Illnesses

Hypothyroidism is often 'coupled' with other conditions or diseases. Some of the most common concurrent disorders include:

  • HEART
    • Cardiovascular disease: Hypothyroidism is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
  • HEAD
    • Depression: Low thyroid hormones can lead to depression and anxiety, and those with hypothyroidism are at a higher risk of developing these conditions.
  • BLOOD SUGAR
    • Diabetes: People with hypothyroidism are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and may have trouble managing blood sugar levels.
  • BONES
    • Osteoporosis: Low thyroid hormones can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

In summary, hypothyroidism is a condition that can lead to some co-conditions, like depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. The primary treatment is hormone replacement therapy, but a balanced diet and regular exercise can also help manage the condition. Working closely with your doctor to manage your hypothyroidism is necessary.

Several other conditions are commonly associated with hypothyroidism, including:

  • Anemia: People with hypothyroidism risk anemia, a condition characterized by a lack of red blood cells.
  • Autoimmune disorder: Hypothyroidism is often caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, in which the body's immune system attacks the thyroid gland, which can lead to other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Hypothyroidism may increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
  • Depression and Anxiety: Hypothyroidism is known to cause mood changes, depression and can worsen existing mental health conditions.
  • Metabolic disorders: Hypothyroidism can cause insulin resistance, leading to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity.
  • Myxedema: a rare and severe form of hypothyroidism that can cause unconsciousness, low body temperature, and even death in extreme cases.

Hyperthyroid

Hyperthyroidism or Graves' disease is when someone has an overactive thyroid. This is when the thyroid gland overproduces the hormone T4. This disorder is more common in women than men and is associated with hormonal changes after pregnancy or menopause.

With hyperthyroidism, you may experience these symptoms: irritability, anxiety, sleep difficulty, racing heart, and weight loss. In addition, people with hyperthyroidism should avoid eating large amounts of iodine-rich foods, such as iodized salt, fish, and shellfish.

Learn More

In 1923, American Thyroid Association was founded. The ATA is dedicated to advancing, understanding, preventing, diagnosing, and treating thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer.

2,700 BC, China, Emperor Shen Nung’s prescriptions mentioned the use of seaweed for the treatment of goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)

Thyroid Disorders are part of the endocrine system.

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About the author: CircleOf's staff writers include caregivers and people with first-hand care management experience.

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