5 Tips to Manage Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (Hypothyroidism)



What I’ve Learned About Hypothyroidism Since I Was First Diagnosed

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When Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism two years ago, she really didn’t want to take medication to treat her condition. The Burlington, Vermont-based psychologist, nutritionist, and certified wellness coach thought she could manage the symptoms on her own by tweaking her diet and making other lifestyle changes.

She was wrong. “I couldn’t turn the engine over, no matter what I did, but when I finally decided to take medication, I felt better almost immediately,” she recalls. “I wish I had started taking it when I was first diagnosed.”

Albertson is not alone. Millions of people are living with thyroid disease, including hypothyroidism. At first, they may not be familiar with the condition or how to manage it. However, it’s possible to quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. Here are three things people with hypothyroidism say they learned about the condition after their diagnoses.

Thyroid Medication Usually Needs Tweaking

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It’s tasked with producing thyroid hormone, which controls a host of activities in the body, including how quickly you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid is sluggish and does not make enough thyroid hormone, causing many of the body’s functions to slow. It’s typically treated with replacement thyroid hormones, and most people will need to remain on the medication for the rest of their lives, according to the American Thyroid Association.

Albertson was lucky that she found the right dosage of her medication relatively quickly, but that’s not the norm.

“Many people may feel frustrated when they first start taking replacement thyroid hormones as there can be a lot of trial and error before we get the right dose,” says Melanie Goldfarb, MD, director of the Endocrine Tumor Program at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “It can take three to four weeks for the medication to take effect, and it can take a while to get on the right dose, too.”

Your doctor should test your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels about six to eight weeks after you start treatment and make any necessary adjustments, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Each time the dosage is adjusted, your blood must be re-tested. Once a stable dosage is reached, testing is not as frequent.

“Once you find the right dose, you’ll want to maintain that dose and stick to the same brand or generic hormone that you’ve been taking,” Dr. Goldfarb says. “If you switch to a different version, you may need a dose adjustment.”

Medication Should Be a Morning Ritual

For Maria Lawer Jack, a conference associate for the Indiana County Tourist Bureau in Indiana, Pennsylvania, it took time to learn when and how to take her thyroid medication. Now she has it down to a science. “I take my pill at the same time of day every day — 30 minutes before eating, preferably while up and about,” says Jack, who was diagnosed in 1997. She takes her medication as soon as she wakes up in the morning and brings her breakfast with her to work to give the synthetic hormones time to kick in.

“Leave your medication on your nightstand so you remember to take it every morning, and it becomes a habit,” Goldfarb advises.

To help thyroid medication work more efficiently, “avoid fiber supplements, calcium, iron, and multivitamins within four hours of taking the medication,” says , an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles. These can all affect the bioavailability of the thyroid hormone medication in your bloodstream.

Lifestyle Adjustments Help

While medication is an important part of living with hypothyroidism, lifestyle changes as well as social support and education on hypothyroidism can also make a difference.

Learning to listen to your body can help speed the hypothyroidism learning curve, Albertson says. She exercised six hours a day before her diagnosis, and now gets about an hour of exercise each day. “I had to scale it back,” she says. “I also cut back on caffeine and sugar. Caffeine and sugar give you a temporary boost, but too much can put you on an energy roller coaster, where you have energy and then you crash. I wanted a more steady energy supply.”

Changes to your diet won’t cure hypothyroidism, but eating a well-balanced diet can promote good health in general, Goldfarb says. Because hypothyroidism is a long-term illness, it’s important to find a doctor whom you feel comfortable with and discuss any lifestyle changes with him or her, she adds.

Staying positive and learning to love yourself also makes a big difference in how you feel, says Ashley Kusi, a stay-at-home mom and blogger in Vermont. After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism in August 2015, she soon learned that support is essential to manage the disease. “The thyroid affects everything in your body, and it can be overwhelming at times,” she says. “A support system is important.”

Finally, Goldfarb believes that getting educated about your condition is important, too. “Many people know little about the thyroid and what it’s supposed to do until they are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder,” she says.






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Date: 05.12.2018, 09:08 / Views: 92394