The thyroid plays a critical role in most metabolic processes in the body, and that is why if it is not functioning correctly, you won’t feel well.
The thyroid of an adult weighs 16.4 grams and has the shape of a butterfly, and located in the lower front part of your neck, and near Adam’s apple.
It releases hormones known as thyroid hormones. The primary hormone is called thyroxine (T4), although there are others such as T1, T2, and T3. For the thyroid to function well, it needs iodine, selenium, antioxidants, B vitamins and zinc.
Thyroid hormones carry out different functions in the body and influence some processes such as growth and development, and metabolism.
Over 10 percent of Americans suffer from underactive thyroid, but only a few people seek treatment. It is imperative to ask your physician to examine your thyroid if you notice any symptom of the condition.
At first, it’s hard to detect the symptoms of underactive thyroid such as weight gain and fatigue. You may assume it is attributed to growing older. However, as the metabolism slows down, more severe signs start to appear.
If you start to notice the following signs of underactive thyroid see your doctor:
1. You Feel Extremely Fatigued
When you feel tired, you may assume the symptom as vague and familiar, but it is not.
Fatigue makes you weak to carry out your regular duties well. It is also the top first sign of type 2 diabetes
2. Difficulties in Losing Weight or Sudden Weight Gain
While the thyroid hormones control metabolism, hypothyroidism causes low metabolic rate which makes you gain weight. Water retention is one of the reasons for weight gain by low thyroid hormones.
3. You Suddenly Stop Smoking
Those who have recently stopped smoking have a greater chance of developing underactive thyroid. It is also easy to gain weight after you quit smoking.
Normally, there are various hormonal changes, and one of them is associated with the thyroid.
Once you quit smoking, you have about a six-fold increase in the risk of developing underactive thyroid. If you gain weight after you quit smoking, you should have your thyroid checked.
4. Brain Fog and Memory Loss
Brain fog and memory loss are earlier signs of underactive thyroid. The thyroid hormones mostly target the brain. That’s why, in an adult, development of underactive thyroid affects the functionality of the brain.
Also, advanced hypothyroidism is closely linked to cognitive decline—reversible with treatment. Early stages of the underactive thyroid have no connection with severe neuropsychiatric disorders, but changes in memory and brain function occur.
5. Excessively Dry Skin
If your skin usually itches and becomes dry to a point it can be seen; then this may be a sign of hypothyroidism. But you should know that this sign may overlap with early symptoms of insulin resistance.
6. High Levels of LDL Cholesterol Could Be an Alarming Sign
A significant increase in Apo B levels is one of the leading causes of heart disease. Typically, thyroid hormones affect the blood vessels and the heart.
Also, both early and advanced stages of underactive thyroid are linked to increasing in bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and Apo B levels.
Many mechanisms have been proposed on this issue. However, it is not yet clear how influential underactive thyroid is in heart disease risk. Perhaps it may all be exaggerated.
Lifestyle factors also play a significant role in causing heart disease. Therefore, high LDL is not a critical indicator of underactive thyroid.
7. Muscle Tenderness and Constant Aches
Patients diagnosed with underactive thyroid complain of frequent muscle aches and tenderness. It can be followed by long-term and broad soreness and pain.
The pain is usually not specific to a given area, as compared to those who have fibromyalgia. Both fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism are closely associated with food intolerance.
8. You Are Experiencing Abnormal Menstrual Periods
Irregular menstrual cycle in women is also an early sign of underactive thyroid. Women are more likely to develop underactive thyroid than men. Usually, the length of the cycle and blood flow tends to increase and may cause Amenorrhea.
9. Increased Sensitivity to Cold
Underactive thyroid is known to compromise the innate ability of your body to regulate its temperature. This, in turn, makes you feel colder than normal, especially in the event others are not feeling any cold.
10. Discomfort and Swelling of Your Neck
The swelling or pain of the neck is one of the major symptoms of underactive thyroid. The reason for the pain is due to the inflammation of the cells that make up the thyroid glands. The condition is called thyroiditis.
Also, the gland may grow larger or smaller—a condition is known as goiter, but this depends on the cause of the condition.
The most common cause of underactive thyroid is the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Patients with this condition usually complain of “an object in the throat.”
11. You Feel Constipated At All Times
Constipation is both a sign and symptom of underactive thyroid. Patients with hypothyroidism usually complain of severe constipation. Constipation usually disappears once the thyroid hormone imbalance is corrected.
It is still not yet clear how this mechanism works, but medical experts think it is associated with the gut-thyroid. However, severe constipation on its own is not likely to indicate underactive thyroid.
12. Feeling Sad and Depressed
Mental health conditions such as acute stress, depression, and anxiety are associated with underactive thyroid. However, changes in hormonal levels caused by these factors are highly debatable.
It is because not all patients experience these signs. It appears as if the feeling comes as a result of the many unmanaged underactive thyroid symptoms accumulated for a long time to make life much worse.
13. Your Hair Becomes Thinner and Falls Off
One of the most feared symptoms of hypothyroidism in women is hair loss. It happens when the thyroid hormones are not balanced. Hair loss can occur during underactive and overactive thyroid.
The good news is that your hair will grow back as soon as the thyroid imbalance is corrected.
14. Lack of Interest in Romance and Sex
If you notice your urge for sex and romance has gradually diminished, then this may be a sign of underactive thyroid. Underactive thyroid releases small amounts of hormones, and it is the hormones that give you sexual desires.
But, there may be other factors that are connected to underactive thyroids such as body aches, weight gain, fatigue or even external factors such as the weather, games and so forth.
However, if you suddenly lose interest in romance and sex and you cannot explain why, visit your health care provider.
15. Your Voice Is Quickly Diminishing
Thyroid complications can cause voice problems such as sounding hoarse. You might suddenly lose your voice when speaking or snore. Such problems with your voice may be an indication of an underlying thyroid problem.
Natural Remedies That May Help Treat Underactive Thyroid
If you have underactive thyroid, you can contribute to treating the condition by supplementing medical treatment with some natural therapy and lifestyle changes.
Also, the natural remedies can help deal with the root causes of thyroid complications such as inflammation and reduce their aggressiveness.
Here are top 15 natural remedies for underactive thyroid:
i. Take As Much Anti-oxidants As You Can
Take as much dark green vegetables and citrus fruits for vitamin C, nuts for omega three fats, and pumpkin seeds for zinc. These elements help fight exhaustion caused by underactive thyroid.
Remember, it is not always about consuming a lot of one type of food, but it is about focusing on a balanced diet that contains all nutrients, particularly antioxidants.
Ensure your diet is rich in antioxidants to help your body suppress the exhaustion that comes with underactive thyroid and aid biological process function better.
Underactive thyroid is also connected to a deficiency in vital minerals such as iodine, zinc, and selenium. Take some Brazil nuts for selenium, a couple of pumpkin seeds for zinc and sea veggies such as kelp for iodine.
If you have Hashimoto’s caused underactive thyroid, avoid iodine-rich foods.
ii. Cook Your Food with Coconut Oil
Use coconut oil when cooking your food. Mix the oil with a cup of milk to increase the levels of antioxidants as well as the metabolism. Many therapists prefer coconut oil for treatment.
Coconut comprises of medium-chain fatty acids that help to boost your metabolism and reduce weight. The coconut oil will revive your sluggish metabolism, and it will also increase your basal body temperature.
The higher the basal body temperature, the higher the metabolic rate.
iii. Drink Some Apple Cider Vinegar
If you are not able to lose weight because of underactive thyroid, you can drink apple cider vinegar. Mix a cup of warm water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and drink daily.
Apple cider vinegar detoxifies your body and restores alkaline balance in the system. It also helps to regulate hormone levels. Additionally, expect your metabolism to increase once you take several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Regular use of apple cider vinegar reduces serum triglyceride levels and helps reduce weight, especially if underactive thyroid prevents weight loss.
iv. Do Not Consume Gluten
Avoid consuming gluten-rich foods, especially if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition. Also, avoid foods that could be allergic to your body. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat. It causes inflammatory stress in patients with celiac disease.
v. Consume Whole Grains
Take whole grains such as wild rice, brown rice, and quinoa. Quinoa is rich in B vitamins. Take all your recommended levels of B vitamins to make sure your thyroid receives all the nutrients it needs to function.
Whole grains such as buckwheat and wild rice are rich in these nutrients just like the fortified cereals. Patients with underactive thyroid don’t have sufficient vitamins B12.
So, it is wise to start eating healthier foods such as eggs and fish that contain high levels of vitamin B12.
vi. Increase Your Iodine Intake
Eat seaweed or kelp as they are rich in iodine. If you cannot get these foods, use iodized salt, but make sure you watch the quantity you consume.
The body requires iodine to make thyroid hormone, and therefore, insufficient iodine may consequently cause the thyroid system to malfunction. The thyroid may enlarge and cause goiter or develop underactive thyroid.
If this is the primary cause of your thyroid complications, then you need to include adequate amounts of iodine in your diet. Sea vegetables are a great source of iodine. Other alternatives include eggs, seafood, meat, and dairy.
If the levels of iodine in your body are fair, do not take too much of it, which is possible if you eat seaweed, kelp, kale or spinach.
vii. Include Ginger in Your Meals
Drink ginger tea or put it into your food as a condiment to improve your thyroid function. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It contains high levels of potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
It can normalize functions of the thyroid system. To treat hypothyroidism, prepare a gingery broth, put it into your meals or brew it with honey.
viii. Do Your Workouts Out In the Sun
Do your exercise in the sun to increase your vitamin D levels. Lack of vitamin D causes autoimmune complications. You should always consider a daily dose of sunshine in your schedule, especially if you have Hashimoto’s condition.
Autoimmune disorders are associated with vitamin D deficiency. So, there is no harm in taking a walk in the park or an exercise under the sun as it will help your body make more vitamin D and improve your metabolism.
ix. Consider the Relaxation Therapy
Try meditation, practice yoga, relaxation therapy or pranayama to reduce your stress levels and normalize your thyroid function.
High levels of cortisol in your body could be the reason for your underactive thyroid complications, and may also lead to excessive stress.
Meditation, yoga and relaxation therapy can reduce nervous tension and ease the anxiety that would otherwise aggravate your thyroid complications.
Being able to control your level of stress is the first step to ensuring your thyroid function remains in the best state. Also, you will be able to monitor the cortisol levels. Breathing methods such as pranayama can reduce hypothyroid issues.
x. Go for a Gut Medical Checkup
Most of the processes powered by thyroid system depend on enough supply of healthy gut bacteria. Therefore, it is vital that you take probiotics.
xi. Take Note of Goitrogens
Goitrogens are known to tamper with the proper functioning of the thyroid system. They include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, rutabaga, kohlrabi, kales, spinach, turnips, strawberries, soybeans, radishes, and peanuts.
It does not mean that you should quit these foods for good. Cooking these foods inactivate the goitrogenic. Also, consuming watercress and radishes in small amounts won’t affect your thyroid function.
xii. Drink Water
Water hydrates the body and helps with digestive function while at the same time deterring moodiness and fatigue. Drinking eight ounces every day prevents low energy, constipation, and sugar craving.
xiii. Avoid Bisphenol
Bisphenol is an industrial chemical found in plastic products. It can damage the endocrine system and compromise thyroid function. So, use stainless steel products and Bisphenol-free plastic bottles.
xiv. Slow Down When Eating
The thyroid gland is found in the throat region, and so it connects your body and mind. When you eat in a hurry, food moves quickly from the mouth to the stomach, faster than the connection of the brain to the body.
The mouth isn’t aware of what the stomach is doing. So, before you eat, sit down, breath slowly and chew comfortably.
As aforementioned, the thyroid controls most metabolism, and so, eat slowly, so that the mind can record what is entering your stomach.
xv. Drop Your Smart Phone
There is a definite connection between mobile phones and brain tumors. Note that, when you are holding the phone to your ear, it is usually close to the thyroid gland. The best option is to use a headset when you are on call.
The Bottom Line
Underactive thyroid is a silent killer. You can suffer for many years with signs and symptoms that the standard medical system cannot treat because the symptoms seem to be vague or scattered.
However, with the above valuable information, you can now be able to identify the signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid and get medical assistance immediately. Again, you have also seen how making dietary adjustments is the best defense in tackling underactive thyroid. Most patients experience brain fog and fatigue and take caffeine and sugar not knowing these components are dangerous.
It is important that you shift to using natural means in treating hypothyroidism. Drink a lot of water, have enough rest, do some exercise and watch your thyroid system become healthy again.
Finally, hypothyroidism is a condition that can easily be treated. However, prevention is better than cure. So, make sure you do all you can to stay healthy and avoid factors that may cause hypothyroidism, wherever possible.
Do you have an underactive thyroid? Let me know in the comments section below!
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