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Understanding Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto's Disease

Do you suspect you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's disease? When the thyroid is not functioning correctly, it can lead to a host of unpleasant symptoms.


Hypothyroidism is a complex condition. By understanding how the disease process works, you can start to take steps to manage it, prevent flares and relieve your symptoms long-term.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is not producing enough hormones for your body to function correctly.


This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight

  • Fatigue and lethargy

  • Feeling cold

  • Constipation

  • Dry, flaky skin

  • Dry, thinning hair

  • Fertility issues

  • Sore, painful or tender muscles/joints

  • Brain fog

  • A hoarse throat

  • Puffy, sensitive face


Some people may even experience less common symptoms. However, these symptoms can be cause by different health concerns. That's why it's best to get testing and evaluation from an experienced health practitioner to confirm if hypothyroidism is the cause of your concerns.


What causes hypothyroidism?

There are different factors that can cause or contribute to hypothyroidism. It’s rare for just one cause to be behind your thyroid issues, which is why it can take time to get it under control.


Let’s look at some of the common contributing factors for hypothyroidism.


Inflammation – the thyroid is vulnerable to the effects of chronic inflammation. It can affect the thyroid directly – thyroiditis means ‘inflammation of the thyroid’. Inflammation plays a significant role in gut health and autoimmune disease processes.

Autoimmunity – the most common form of thyroid disease is the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s. Autoimmunity is when the immune system attacks an area of the body such as the thyroid. Although this is the most common disease process that directly causes hypothyroidism, it has underlying causes that contribute as well.


Nutrient deficiencies – like any body system, the thyroid relies on nutrients to function properly. Deficiencies of key nutrients such as iodine, selenium, zinc and tyrosine can lead to an underactive thyroid. Low levels of other supportive nutrients including iron, vitamin A and vitamin D can also contribute.


Hormone imbalances – issues with sex hormones can influence the thyroid. For example, oestrogen can regulate the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland. This means that too much oestrogen can result in hypothyroidism.


This is by no means an exhaustive list! There are dozens of factors that feed into these problems, including diet, gut health, intolerances, environmental pollutants, stress, poor sleep and chronic disease.


To get a handle on hypothyroidism, you need to take a holistic and integrative approach.


What should I do if I'm diagnosed with hypothyroidism?

Are you newly diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's? There are a few steps to take to get your health back on track.


Get regular testing to monitor your levels

Your doctor will likely prescribe thyroxine as a way to correct your TSH levels. It can take some time to find the dose that suits you, so regular testing is important. A dose that is too low or too high can cause symptoms and complications.


However, it's important to know that thyroid hormone levels are only one piece of the hypothyroid picture. 15% of people with hypothyroidism will experience symptoms even when their TSH levels are corrected.


This is because supplementing thyroid hormone doesn't address the underlying causes. It also can't correct cellular hypothyroidism, where active thyroid hormone can't get into your body's cells.


Look at improving your diet and lifestyle

The majority of contributing factors for hypothyroidism can be reduced or removed by addressing your diet and lifestyle.


This can include:

  • Remove dietary intolerances and trigger foods

  • Increasing nutrient-dense foods

  • Moving your body consistently

  • Managing your stress levels

  • Optimising your sleep


There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet and lifestyle for hypothyroidism. However, there are some general steps that may help - stay tuned for next week's blog for more information!


Have a flare management toolkit

Flares are a common experience for people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's. It can take time for you to identify what your flare triggers and relievers are. But once you know what flares are for you, you'll want to learn to manage them.


To get you started, give this article a read.


Seek professional support and advice

As hypothyroidism is incredibly complex, you may not know where to start! You might be able to identify some of the factors that contribute to your condition, but figuring out where it began and how to manage it is a different story!


That's why working with an experienced professional is your best bet.


As a qualified naturopath with extensive experience in thyroid disease, I'm here to help. Not only do I understand the disease process as a practitioner - I've experienced it myself.


To book an appointment, click here.

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