11 things to know when newly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or an underactive thyroid
Have you been recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or an underactive thyroid? Welcome to the club.
Hashimoto’s is a chronic autoimmune condition causing an underactive thyroid. You are not alone; there are millions of us living with this condition worldwide.
Soon, you’ll start noticing how different Hashimoto’s is in different people, and how all of us experience a palette of symptoms of differing intensities and durations. But there are many things we have in common, and some general ways to improve your health today and over time. So don’t panic! Read below for 11 actions you can immediately take to understand and manage your thyroid condition.
1. Adjust your exercise routine
Being physically active is necessary to maintain both a healthy body and high spirits. If you have an underactive thyroid, over-exercising might lead to a drop in thyroid hormone levels. If you do high intensity or long duration strenuous exercise, either allow yourself a couple days break in between your sessions or reduce the intensity (1–4).
2. Find a balanced diet that works for you
Eating healthy is especially important if you have Hashimoto’s. Certain foodsin particular may trigger your flare-ups. The trick is to know which foods and in which amounts are triggering digestive and other issues. Fortunately, you don’t need to make up a diet on your own — many eating regimens have been shown to help Hashimoto’s symptoms. How do you know which one to try? Pick one diet and measure the impact to seIf if your symptoms decline. It’s your choice from the bunch: autoimmune protocol, specific food group exclusion diet, the whole30, dairy free and many more (5–13).
3. Log your symptoms and tests
As you start to understand your Hashimoto’s or underactive thyroid, it can be handy to use digital tools to log your symptoms and your lab tests. This will give you an overview of your condition over time, and make it easier to talk to your healthcare provider about how your symptoms are evolving. For example, the symptoms you feel today might change or fully disappear, while you might start feeling a new symptom(s). Recording your lifestyle and health patterns can help you pinpoint potential origins of new symptoms.
4. Take your medications on time
When you were diagnosed, it’s likely you were put on hormone replacement therapy. There are three types. Levothyroxine is a synthetic hormone thyroxine (T4) replacement, most commonly used as a first line therapy and effective for about 8 in 10 patients. Combined synthetic Levothyroxine and Liothyronine, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), work well for people unable to produce the active hormone T3 out of T4. Lastly, natural thyroid preparations are obtained from pigs or cattle and contain a mixture of natural T3 and T4 (14–23).
Your doctor will explain how important it is to take your medication on time. While people can occasionally miss Levothyroxine without feeling a major impact, the effect of Liothyronine is similar to a caffeine shot, and you are likely to notice each missed pill.
When taking your medication you should follow a couple of simple rules maximize its effectiveness,
Take your medication on an empty stomach
Do not eat for 30–60 minutes after taking the pill
Do not take supplements within 4 hours of taking your medication
If you are taking additional medication, talk to your healthcare provider to find out if it is safe to take them together.
You can set reminders in Boost so you never miss taking your medication.
5. Know your supplements
When searching online, you’ll inevitably run across ads for different supplements. It’s true that the thyroid needs certain vitamins and minerals in order to maintain its function, and at times our bodies may lack some necessary vitamins and minerals because of diet, lifestyle or our geography.
Some of the better known and researched supplements are iodine, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, omega 3 and zinc. A good balance of each supplement will ensure the thyroid not only produces enough hormone T4, but that both T4 and T3 can help each cell of the body to use the energy needed for its basic biologic processes (24–55).
It’s good to talk to your doctor before taking any supplement. If necessary, your doctor can do a simple blood test to check the levels of each vitamin and mineral in your body.
6. Connect with support groups
There are many of us around the globe living with an underactive thyroid who are happy to share our knowledge and experiences. Many online groups provide excellent support — and some of them have a good dose of humor about what we experience. You can ask your healthcare provider about patient support groups in your vicinity, or go online and check for non-profit organizations or patient groups (several of them are on Facebook).
7. Learn about thyroid biology
The more knowledge you have about your thyroid, the more power you will have over your condition. Aim for scientifically backed, trusted information, like on, WebMD or the American Thyroid Association’s website.
When surfing the vast amount of information online, try to be critical and check for scientific references in any written piece you read. If you find some advice radically different than on the mainstream pages and believe it can help you, it’s important to talk to your doctor before following any of the recommended routines.
8. Build a trusting and respectful relationship with your doctor
You and your doctor are in for a long ride together, so it’s important to have an honest and respectful relationship where you feel heard and taken care of. Try to help your doctor by providing systematic descriptions of your symptoms and your lifestyle. This will reduce the time your doctor will need to figure out what is really going on.
9. Reduce stress and increase your happiness index
Stress is one of the environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases. During high stress periods, both hormone balance and the immune system will change — and not for the better. Avoid stress, and work on feeling positive and happy about yourself. Start with tackling smaller grievances, and work towards the bigger issues. Remember to laugh, hug people and take it easy. Your body will say thank you by feeling better.
10. Listen to your body
We are all unique; perhaps symptoms you are experiencing have not been well researched or documented so far. That does not mean they are not real. They are, but you will need a bit more time and energy to get to the bottom of them with the help of your doctor. Also, if some things that worked for the others do not work for you, it’s also fine; we are all different. You will find your balance and your best zone by listening to your body and being in sync with it.
11. Set goals to improve your health, measure and visualize your progress
Changing habits and old ways takes time, but it is worth if it will result in you feeling better, healthier and happier. Set reasonable goals, perhaps not too ambitious, to avoid stressing yourself if you can’t follow through. Small steps and small improvements might be just enough to start this path.
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