Hypothyroidism is a common condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough hormones. These hormones are very important in maintaining the metabolism of the body. Metabolism refers to the process by which cells produce and utilize energy from food. A reduction in the levels of thyroid hormones slows down many body processes, including the production of energy. A slower or sluggish metabolism is the main reason for tiredness or exhaustion in people with hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disorder, and a diet low in required iodine content are the two major causes of an underactive thyroid. Both of the causes share an odd number of victims in different countries. Meanwhile, birth defects, prior thyroid surgery, some medications, and problems with the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland are the less usual causes of this disease.
Although it may differ from person to person, the common symptoms to identify this condition are these:
- Pale and dry skin
- Hair loss
- Loss of memory
- Weight gain despite having the same appetite
- Decline in sex drive
When the thyroid gland slows down, other organs and organ systems of the body become sluggish. Thyroid hormone is like a controller of genes that regulates the functioning of every cell in the body. Conventionally, hypothyroidism is diagnosed through a TSH test, which is performed by testing the blood. However, some people have a sub-clinical form of hypothyroidism, which is relatively difficult to diagnose. Sub-clinical hypothyroidism produces many symptoms without much change in the levels of the hormones in the blood.
Fatigue caused by hypothyroidism
How does one distinguish hypothyroidism-related fatigue from exhaustion caused by other conditions? A person with hypothyroidism may find it difficult to sustain energy for a sufficient period to do the same activities they had easily performed in the past. It makes the person feel as if energy output is slow. They may find it difficult to do even the simplest activities they used to do with ease. People with thyroid fatigue may fail to exercise consistently, as they may feel that they lack the energy to sustain activity for a long time. The head is one of the best indicators of the changes in thyroid hormone levels, as hypothyroidism may cause a heavy feeling in the head, particularly in the afternoon. The person may fall asleep soon after he or she sits down or relaxes, especially if they do not have anything active to do.
Thyroid hormones help in maintaining normal body temperature. Hypothyroidism may lead to body temperatures that are lower than normal. This reduction in body temperature may be one of the causes of fatigue. This is also the reason why people with hypothyroidism are more active late in the morning than late in the afternoon. In the late morning hours, body temperatures are higher, and the person has more energy. By late afternoon, as the temperature lowers, the body's functioning also slows down considerably. Being unable to tolerate cold is another striking symptom of hypothyroidism. Patients with low body temperatures and fatigue due to hypothyroidism may push themselves to work hard for a few days, but they may feel totally exhausted afterward. Those with severe exhaustion may hardy be able to function at all.
The fluctuations in the body temperature should not be left unmentioned when consulting a doctor. It is the sign that would help them to better diagnose your condition. As fatigue can be caused by several other conditions, observing every symptom is an element of arriving at an accurate diagnosis.
Other factors related to fatigue
Depression or stress could be another contributor to your fatigue. The adrenal glands, which manage the stress levels of the body by releasing the hormones adrenaline, DHEA, and cortisol, are affected here. Thus, the exhaustion is also known as adrenal fatigue.
Relieving everyday stress by practicing yoga or meditation may prove to be very beneficial.
Fatigue may also be felt as a result of the following:
- Grave’s disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- As a side effect of hormone therapy or various mineral supplements
How can you control the fatigue related to hypothyroidism?
Thyroid medication is one of the most useful methods for controlling fatigue in people with hypothyroidism. The medication is known to improve fatigue symptoms within six months, even in the most severe cases of hypothyroidism. Multivitamin supplements and omega-3 supplements are considered to be good in controlling fatigue due to hypothyroidism. Although supplements are fairly effective, you should choose them wisely while ignoring the advertised content, as they may have negative side effects. Your body would take time to accept a medication, so do try to stick to one and avoid changing them frequently.
Sleep is one of the most important factors when beating fatigue. Having sufficient sleep, about 8 to 9 hours a day, helps to heal the body. Effective measures should be employed in your bedroom so that you get those 8 to 9 hours without any disruptions. Being sleep deprived not only adds to your fatigue, but also breaks your circadian rhythm, and it takes time to set it anew. Maintaining blood sugar levels in the normal range, neither low nor high, is imperative for the healthy functioning of the thyroid glands. Avoiding sugar and any food with a high GI (glycemic index) would help keep you healthy. Adhering to a nutritious diet and a good exercise routine is the best approach.
Getting sunlight during the day, particularly in the eyes, stimulates the endocrine system to produce ample amounts of hormones, including thyroid hormone. Fatigue can also be controlled by having a balanced diet consisting of non-goitrogenic food, such as eggplant, tomato, salmon, zucchini, eggs, and milk, among others.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also considered very useful, as it helps the patient notice which part of the day is more suitable for carrying out their activities. It would be immensely helpful for you to join groups that help thyroid patients or be in contact with foundations that provide every possible answer to health queries and help you regain your health.
Keeping a good relationship with your doctor is a must. Nobody knows you and your condition better than your doctor. Working with your doctor through effective communication will go a long way in beating your fatigue.
Hypothyroidism is fairly common, and it often causes tiredness or even extreme fatigue. Fortunately, hypothyroidism can be effectively treated in various ways, so the fatigue will improve. Be sure to talk to your doctor about severe fatigue and hypothyroidism.