You’re swept up in a feeling of exhaustion so strong you could lay down right where you’re standing and sleep for a week. Your feet feel leaden and your head a little foggy. You are always running but it’s not enough. You feel like the consummate underdog. This is what it’s like on a near-daily basis for those that suffer from hypothyroidism. If you experience these feelings you know first-hand how difficult it is to get from day to day just taking care of the basics.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a fairly common hormonal disorder. According to the American Thyroid Association, “More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.” These are pretty staggering statistics considering how negatively the symptoms can impact your life.
Hypothyroidism is a malfunction of the thyroid gland, located at the base of the throat. This butterfly-shaped organ produces hormones that are essential to numerous functions throughout your body. They regulate your metabolism, support digestive and heart functions, aid in brain development, regulate muscle control and function and help your body maintain strong, healthy bones.
When your thyroid is not producing enough hormones, you may experience a wide range of symptoms that run the gamut from minor to somewhat severe. The most common of these include lethargy, exhaustion, weight gain, heart palpitations and a slower heart rate, dry and sallow skin and hair, brittle nails, decreased sex drive, muscle aches and weakness, difficulty concentrating, anxiety and depression, insomnia, memory problems and irregular or heavier-than-normal periods. Other symptoms can include a swelling at the base of the throat (from an enlarged thyroid) and hoarseness and feeling cold despite normal ambient temperatures. Many people experience some or all of these symptoms and assume it’s due to stress or other factors such as aging. This, perhaps, is the main reason it goes undiagnosed for so long in many individuals.
Nutrition Can Help
One of the most important factors in thyroid health is proper nutrition. A poorly balanced diet high in simple carbohydrates (such as sugary foods or soda), low fiber and lacking in antioxidants can spell disaster for anyone, but especially those with hypothyroidism. Try to cut out refined sugars as much as possible. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (typically, the more colorful the fruit or veggie, the higher the antioxidant level), lean meats, whole grains and staying hydrated can go a long way towards keeping you feeling your best. If your blood work showed you are low in vitamins B or D, consider taking supplements to boost these essential nutrients.
Living with hypothyroidism doesn’t have to be a life sentence of misery. Working with your doctor, you can regain control of your life and balance your system so you once again feel like the superhero instead of the underdog.
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