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Hypothyroidism Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

  • Fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Goiter (nodules at the base of the neck, sometimes accompanied by tightness in the throat, coughing or swelling)
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches and tenderness
  • Kidney problems
  • Stiffness and swelling in the joints
  • Hair loss
  • Rough, cracked skin
  • Trouble breathing
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • More frequent cold or flu due to low immune function

To find out if you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will run blood tests to check for levels of the hormones known as T4 (thyroxine) and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). Hypothyroidism is diagnosed in your thyroid test when TSH is high. Sometimes, TSH can be high, but the thyroid is still producing enough hormones. This condition is referred to as subclinical (or mild) hypothyroidism.

Mild hypothyroidism is usually the early stage. It can progress to hypothyroidism if a hypothyroidism diet isn’t adopted and lifestyle changes aren’t made. When the condition isn’t corrected, more severe autoimmune reactions can occur — this can cause worsened problems like impaired brain function, infertility, unhealthy pregnancy, obesity, heart complications and joint pain.

Another symptom to be aware of is thyroid nodules, a buildup of cells within the thyroid, creating an abnormal lump. Most thyroid nodules aren’t dangerous. But some of them become cancerous over time. If your physician suspects you have thyroid nodules, he or she should have them evaluated to check for cancer cells.

For patients with thyroid cancers, a common conventional treatment method is known as radioiodine, or radioactive iodine. Because the thyroid absorbs most of your body’s iron content, this concentrated radiation is supposed to successfully kill most of the diseased thyroid cells without damaging cells throughout the rest of the body.

Complications

In some cases, people with an extremely underactive thyroid may fall into what is known as a myxedema coma, characterized by declining mental status, hypothermia and the slowing of many internal organs. If you or someone you know has severe thyroid problems and begins to show major lethargy or stupor, seek emergency medical attention at once.

Myxedema comas are rare and occur most often in the elderly and women, especially in the winter months. Generally, it is the result of undiagnosed and/or untreated hypothyroidism and can be fatal if left untreated.

Hypothyroidism is very prevalent in kidney disease patients, in turns out. In a Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity study, evidence suggested that hypothyroidism was a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD), CKD progression and even higher death risk in kidney disease.

9 Natural Hypothyroidism Remedies

1. Hypothyroidism Diet

What foods are good for an underactive thyroid? Here are the top foods for a hypothyroidism diet to start the healing process:

  • Wild-caught fish: It provides the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, essential for hormone balance and thyroid function.
  • Coconut oil: This provides medium-chain fatty acids in the form of caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid, which support a healthy metabolism, increase energy and fight fatigue.
  • Seaweed: Good seaweeds are some of the best natural sources of iodine and help prevent deficiencies that disturb thyroid function.
  • Probiotic-rich foods: These include kefir (a fermented dairy product), organic goat’s milk yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, natto, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies.
  • Sprouted seeds: Flax, hemp and chia seeds provide ALA, a type of omega-3 fat that’s critical for proper hormonal balance and thyroid function.
  • Clean water: Water helps with hydration and digestive function while preventing fatigue and moodiness. For prevention of constipation, low energy and sugar cravings, drink at least eight ounces every two hours.
  • High fiber foods: People with hypothyroidism may have digestive difficulties, so aim for 30–40 grams of fiber daily. Not only does a high-fiber diet help with digestive health, it also improves heart health, balances blood sugar levels and supports a healthy weight by making you feel fuller.
  • Bone broth: Beef and chicken stock contain the amino acids L-proline and L-glycine, which can help repair the digestive lining and improve hypothyroidism.
  • Fruits and vegetables: These are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are necessary for combating free-radical damage and lowering inflammation. They are nutrient-dense and should make up a large portion of a healthy diet since they support digestive health, brain function, heart health, hormone balance and a healthy weight.

These are foods that should not appear in your hypothyroidism diet:

  • Goitrogen foods: People with hypothyroidism may want to stay away from eating large amounts of raw Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, soy and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables might impact thyroid function because they contain goitrogens, molecules which impair thyroid perioxidase.
  • Tap water: Most tap water contains fluorine (an endocrine disruptor) and chlorine that inhibit iodine absorption.
  • Gluten: Many people with thyroid issues are also sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that results in an allergy to gluten. Gluten is found in all wheat, rye and barley products. Carefully check ingredient labels to avoid hidden gluten that is lurking in many packaged foods.
  • Conventional dairy: Like gluten, dairy can be especially problematic for the thyroid, triggering reactions that raise inflammatory responses.  Avoid conventional cow’s milk dairy products that are not organic and have been pasteurized.  Consumption of organic, raw goat’s milk or organic A2 cow’s milk is a better choice.
  • Sugar: Sugar can disrupt the hormone balance necessary for metabolism. People with thyroid issues have a difficult time losing weight. Because the thyroid is a key gland for hormonal balance and metabolism, it’s best to avoid sugar as it can contribute to hormonal disturbances, fatigue, mood changes, worsened depression and weight gain.
  • Refined flour products: Any food made with refined carbohydrates, like enriched wheat flour, for example, negatively impacts hormone levels and can contribute to weight gain.

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Written by Rachel Wilson

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