“Hypo what?” That’s what most people ask when they first hear about the thyroid disease called hypothyroidism. But there’s much more to it than a tricky spelling and pronunciation.
We asked our Living With Hypothyroidism Facebook community to share the most bothersome things people have said about their condition. Here’s a sampling of what they’ve heard — and what they wish they’d heard instead.
Besides mild weight gain, some hair loss, and dry skin, the symptoms of hypothyroidism often go unnoticed. Still, you shouldn’t brush your friend’s condition aside.
If your friend is willing to share their feelings, give them the support they need. If they’d rather not share with you, ask if there’s a therapist or counselor they’d like to talk to instead. Or, if that doesn’t work, ask if they’d be interested in going to a yoga or meditation class. Any of these strategies can be helpful in boosting their mood and taking their mind off how they’re feeling.
Your friend may get tired more easily than normal. That’s because hypothyroidism affects the thyroid, an important gland that controls the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid becomes underactive or slow, it causes people to tire more quickly.
Taking a short afternoon nap can boost your friend’s energy levels. But don’t be disappointed when they turn down your suggestion for an all-day hiking trip or shopping excursion. Watching a movie together at their place or brining over a casserole for dinner are just some of the ways you can spend quality time together.
Fatigue, joint pain, heart palpitations, depression. These are just some of the symptoms your friend with hypothyroidism deals with every day. While exercise can help manage these symptoms, you shouldn’t push your friend by telling them to hop on a treadmill. If you’re concerned about their health, ask if they feel good enough to join you on a walk or go for a quick swim.
Hypothyroidism is a chronic condition, so it’s something your friend will have to manage for the rest of their life. While medications are essential, they don’t fix the thyroid disease. Lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. These changes include eating a diet rich in magnesium and selenium and exercising regularly.
Weight gain is one of the most common side effects of hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid can cause your friend’s metabolism to slow down. This allows unwanted pounds to hang on.
While a proper diet alone isn’t enough to maintain or monitor thyroid hormone levels, it can improve thyroid function. You shouldn’t control your friend’s eating habits, but you can ask if there’s a nutrition plan they should follow. This shows that you care about their health.
No one can control if they get hypothyroidism or not. It’s often caused by an autoimmune disease. In this case, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. It can also be caused by removal of the thyroid, birth defects, certain drugs, and viral thyroiditis.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but they generally include fatigue, lethargy, sensitivity to cold, depression, and muscle weakness. If you notice your friend experiencing any of these symptoms, ask if you can lend a helping hand.
Hypothyroidism isn’t something that just goes away. And it’s not something you can bounce back from like the common cold. It will quickly become your friend’s “new normal.” As a chronic condition, hypothyroidism requires lifetime medication to help control it.