8 Best Practices for Taking Care of Yourself With a Thyroid Condition

Doctor examining woman's thyroid
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If you have a thyroid condition, you want to do everything you can to take good care of yourself, and do whatever possible to stay healthy. Here are eight tidbits to keep in mind as you navigate your thyroid journey. 

1. Gain Knowledge

Remain focused on your journey to obtain as much knowledge as you can about your thyroid condition. Be cautious, though, about where you obtain that information.

Seek insight from reliable resources (ones that are written or edited by healthcare practitioners) and/or come from professional societies, like the American Thyroid Association.

2. Be Prepared for Your Doctor's Appointment

In today's world, there is, unfortunately, a limited amount of time to communicate your symptoms, questions, and concerns to your doctor. So be prepared by jotting down or recording your thoughts before the appointment. Try to be as specific and detailed as possible. 

For example, let's say you are concerned about your weight. You might say, "I've been doing an intense cardio routine for three one-hour sessions a week, and I'm eating a 1,500 calorie a day low-glycemic, low-fat diet, and I'm gaining two pounds a week."

The more detail you can provide, the better your doctor will be able to help you and get to the bottom of your symptoms. 

3. Don't Assume All of Your Symptoms Are Thyroid-Related

Once diagnosed with a thyroid condition, you may have a tendency to assume that every ache, pain, and symptom is thyroid-related.

This can pose two challenges:

  • First, by assuming every symptom is your thyroid, you may end up gauging the success of your thyroid treatment based on the resolution of symptoms that aren't related to your thyroid. 
  • Second, you may end up overlooking other conditions that can be diagnosed and treated apart from your thyroid condition.

    Even more, a symptom may be related to the thyroid but may not be a symptom of your thyroid condition. For example, while hair loss may occur with thyroid disease, it can also be a symptom of another problem, like stress or a nutritional deficiency. 

    In the end, be familiar with the symptoms and conditions that are thyroid-related, but make sure that when you talk with your doctor, you're leaving open the possibility that they are not a direct result of your thyroid condition. 

    4. Avoid Smoking

    Cigarettes contain a variety of chemicals that are specifically detrimental to the thyroid. For instance, in people with Graves' disease, smoking increases their chance of developing thyroid eye disease. Smoking may also make treatment for thyroid eye disease less effective.

    Of course, there are many other reasons not to smoke, but people with thyroid disease have their own unique reasons to stay away from cigarettes.

    5. Obtain Your Thyroid Test Results

    If you have not heard back from your doctor's office about your test results, do not assume they are "normal," or "OK." Instead, reach out and ask for an actual copy of the results. Perhaps, inquire whether your doctor has an online portal or chart you could access to view your medical information.

    Finally, if you have questions about your results (for example, maybe your bloodwork came back "within the normal range," but you are not feeling well), talk with your doctor about the next steps in your care. You may still need tweaking of your thyroid medication, or your doctor may want to consider other reasons for your symptoms.

    6. Tell Your Doctor All the Medications You are Taking, Including Supplements 

    It's essential to inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Be sure to tell him, as well, about any supplements or vitamins you are taking.

    In the end, candidness will help your doctor sort out the "why" behind any unexpected lab results or symptoms you are experiencing.

    7. Don't Assume that Products Labeled "All-Natural" Are Safe and Good for You

    There's a temptation to believe that if something is labeled "all-natural," it must be totally safe. But that is a mistake, especially for people with thyroid disease.

    In fact, some studies suggest that over-the-counter health supplements marketed as "thyroid support" contain varying levels of actual thyroid hormone, which could inadvertently lead to under or overtreatment. Moreover, some of the "thyroid support" formula supplements are loaded with iodine and kelp, which may actually aggravate your thyroid condition.

    In the end, if you have a thyroid condition, be sure to seek out care from a physician, like a primary care doctor or an endocrinologist. 

    8. Seek Out a Healing Partnership With Your Doctor

    For many people, treating their thyroid disease is a lifelong process. This is why finding a doctor who you trust, is up-to-date and knowledgeable about thyroid disease, and who is a partner with you in your thyroid and overall health is important. 

    A Word From Verywell

    There are times when it's tempting to just give up hope that you'll ever feel better, find the right doctor, get back your energy, regrow your hair, or lose weight.

    Remember that research is ongoing, and your situation is unique from everyone else's. Work together with your healthcare team to find solutions that work best for you.

    Sources:

    Hoang TD, et al. Over-the-counter-drug-induced thyroid disorders. Endocrine Practice. 2013 Mar-Apr;19(2):268-74. doi: 10.4158/EP12298.OR.

    Sawicka-Gutaj et al. "Influence of cigarette smoking on thyroid gland—an update." Endokrynol Pol. 2014;65(1):54-62. doi: 10.5603/EP.2014.0008.