Extreme fatigue is a very common symptom of thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. When your thyroid is out of balance and produces too much or too little hormones, it can disrupt functions in your body and make you feel tired.
- Hypothyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid, which slows down your metabolism and can lead to fatigue. Symptoms include weight gain, hair loss, and dry skin.
- Hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid, which speeds up your metabolism and overwhelms your body. Symptoms include unintentional weight loss, rapid heartbeat, increased appetite, and nervousness.
If you are constantly feeling tired even after 8 hours of sleep, experiencing anxiety before falling asleep, or suffer from excessive drowsiness during the day, you may have a thyroid problem. Talk to your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
7 tips for dealing with fatigue caused by thyroid problems
1. Take your thyroid medications
If you have hypothyroidism, you may be prescribed levothyroxine (a synthetic form of the thyroxine hormone). If you have hyperthyroidism, you may be prescribed antithyroid drugs.
It is important to take your medications as prescribed, at the same time every day. If you feel extreme fatigue despite taking thyroid medications, let your doctor know. Remember that it may take some time before the medications are effective.
2. Eat healthy
When you are suffering from fatigue due to thyroid problems, it can be tempting to reach for unhealthy foods that are easy to obtain. While sugary foods can make you feel more energy in the short term, they can actually make your fatigue worse.
Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, as these can provide you with sustained energy throughout the day.
3. Limit alcohol and caffeine
Although caffeine can give you a boost of energy, it is temporary and will not address long-term fatigue. What is worse is if you drink alcohol later in the day to wind down. Both habits can end up draining your energy even more and disrupt your sleep. Limit your caffeine intake to one or drinks early in the day, and limit your alcohol intake to just one drink early in the evening.
4. Exercise regularly
You may not feel like exercising when you are suffering from extreme fatigue. However, regular physical activity can help promote blood circulation, improve your energy levels, and increase your chances of getting quality sleep. You can start with light exercises, such as walking and yoga, then increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
5. Practice a good sleep hygiene
Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Set a regular sleep schedule and try to stick to it. Stay away from electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
6. Quit smoking
Nicotine is a stimulant. Though it may relax you, smoking actually increases fatigue and negatively affects your thyroid. Find ways to quit smoking and ask your doctor for suggestions on how to kick the habit.
7. Visit your doctor
If you are constantly feeling fatigued due to thyroid problems, it is important to seek medical advice. Your doctor can help rule out other causes and provide appropriate treatment.
16 symptoms of thyroid problems
- Fatigue: Fatigue is the most common sign of a thyroid disorder, most commonly hypothyroidism.
- Anxiety: Hyperthyroidism is often associated with anxiety, irritability, and difficulty regulating emotional outbursts, which is due to hormonal imbalances caused by the condition.
- Weight fluctuation: Rapid weight gain is a sign of an underactive thyroid, which causes your metabolism to slow down. Unexpected weight loss is a sign of an overactive thyroid.
- Heart rate: Hyperthyroidism can cause a racing heart rate or heart palpitations.
- Shaking: Shaky hands or twitching muscles are sometimes misinterpreted as signs of nervousness. However, if this occurs frequently, you should consider scheduling thyroid testing.
- Feeling hot or cold: Hyperthyroidism can cause hot flashes or excessive sweating. Conversely, hypothyroidism can make you feel cold, especially in your hands and feet.
- Concentration: If you find yourself getting disoriented or have difficulty concentrating, it could be a sign of a thyroid problem.
- Hair loss: While it is normal to lose a few strands of hair when you wash or brush your hair, losing chunks of hair or noticing thinning could be a sign of a thyroid issue.
- Digestive issues: Those suffering from hypothyroidism frequently complain of constipation, whereas those suffering from hyperthyroidism frequently complain of loose stools.
- Muscle aches: Muscle pains all over the body are occasionally linked to low thyroid levels. If your aches and pains are fairly recent and there is no obvious cause, you may want to get your thyroid levels checked.
- Trouble swallowing: Because the thyroid is located in the neck, an enlarged thyroid can cause pressure in the area, resulting in difficulty swallowing.
- Changes in menstrual cycle or sex drive: Your hormones have a significant effect on your reproductive health and sex drive. If you notice that your period is becoming irregular, heavier, or more painful than usual, your thyroid may be to blame. Changes in sex drive or difficulty achieving orgasm may also be related to thyroid problems.
- Dry or oily skin: An underactive thyroid can cause dry skin, and an overactive thyroid can cause oily skin, both of which can lead to breakouts.
- Sleep problems: Because your thyroid impacts your energy levels, you may find it difficult to maintain regular sleep habits. If you cannot sleep or wake up frequently during the night, you could have hyperthyroidism. If you find it difficult to stay awake or fall asleep frequently, you could have hypothyroidism.
- Eye problems: Dry eyes, red eyes, double vision, or protruding eyes are all signs of thyroid problems.
- Lump in the neck: A lump in the neck may appear due to an enlarged thyroid gland.
How are thyroid problems treated?
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat either hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Most are taken daily as pills or capsules although some are injected at regular intervals.
- Surgery: In some circumstances, your thyroid or a part of it is surgically removed. This is particularly common with hyperthyroidism, which can be resistant to medicine, or in cases where the thyroid has already caused significant problems, such as difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or cosmetic concerns. Medication is frequently administered following surgery.
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