Nearly 80 different types of autoimmune diseases affect our bodies. These diseases occur when the body fails to differentiate between its own and foreign cells. Resultantly, the immune system begins to attack its own healthy cells. Similarly, Hashimoto’s flare-up is an autoimmune condition where the immune system begins attacking healthy thyroid cells. If you ever experience symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare-up, it’s either because of low thyroid function or immune system activation.
Today, we will find the best treatment for this autoimmune condition. We will discuss Hashimoto’s flare-up in detail, its causes, and the possible treatments.
Introduction of Hashimoto’s Flare Up
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that results from an internal attack on the thyroid – a butterfly-shaped gland at the bottom of your neck. The disease can lead to a lack of thyroid hormones, known as hypothyroidism. These hormones are essential for your body, performing tasks such as regulating your metabolism, hair and nail growth, menstrual cycle, heart rate, energy, mood, and body temperature.
In the absence of thyroid cells, your body may gain weight, feel fatigued, and have constipation and fertility issues. Furthermore, you may feel aching joints and muscles and experience brain fog. On the other hand, the thyroid hormone level can also rise instead of falling, a condition known as hyperthyroidism.
A flare-up happens when the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis quickly return. While the signs are the same you normally experience during the autoimmune condition, they are severer during the flare-up. You might be having a great day and forgotten about your autoimmune condition, but the flare-up can kick in with the symptoms. Additional stress on your body can lead to such flare-ups, as it taxes the already hyper-vigilant immune system.
Causes of Hashimoto’s Flare Up
Various causes contribute to the flare-ups of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Here are some reasons that cause symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
There could be interference from certain medications and supplements in your thyroid medication. This intervention can cause a shortage in the levothyroxine dosage, which in turn can spark a flare-up.
To adjust the levothyroxine dosage, you may need to take the following at different times of the day:
- Calcium or Iron supplements
Estrogens We strongly suggests visiting your doctor first before you try any of these supplements on your own. Professional advice can help adjust the dosage of medication and supplements and eliminate the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
Another reason you experience symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up is stress that affects your immune system. Stress results include autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, as well as Graves’ disease that causes the thyroid to be overactive.
Stress alone cannot cause a thyroid condition but can make it a lot worse. It slows the body’s metabolism, causing thyroxin hormones and triiodothyronine levels to fall.
Stress includes a variety of factors. The following generally creates stress and leads to symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up:
- Natural changes such as menopause and pregnancy
- Physical stress resulting from surgery, illness, or injury.
- Mental stress, linked with work, family, or your personal life.
Over- or under-consumption of certain nutrients can lead to symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up. Some of these nutrients are:
1. Zinc: Zinc shortage can lead to hypothyroidism. A study unveils that after taking zinc supplements, people with goiter experienced a rise in thyroid hormone levels.
2. Vitamins: An imbalance of vitamin D and vitamin B12 can cause symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
3. Selenium: Selenium is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid. Therefore, a selenium deficiency can trigger Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. You can increase selenium levels through your diet, so supplements are not necessary.
4. Iodine: Iodine is another nutrient essential for thyroid functioning, hence any imbalance can lead to an autoimmune condition.
4. Insufficient Sleep
A night of poor sleep can instigate symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up. Even one night’s bad sleep can disturb the immune system, and a constant poor sleep cycle can ignite flare-ups.
Even worse, flare-ups resulting from lack of sleep can further change the way your brain regulates shut-eye, causing more sleeping problems and insomnia.
5. Menstrual Cycle
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up are common during puberty and menopause. It is due to the changes in hormones, which in turn affects the immune system and sparks flare-ups.
The presence of estrogen during the first half of the menstrual cycle can also lead to Hashimoto’s outbreak.
6. Sensitive Food
Although the food you’re sensitive to varies individually, it’s one of the reasons you experience symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up. Additionally, a diet rich in bad fat, sugar, and salt, also known as the Western Pattern diet, can cause autoimmune conditions.
Eating either sensitive food or the western pattern diet can trigger an imbalance of bacteria, also known as the microbiome, in your gut. There’s a surge in harmful bacteria capable of destroying your gut barrier and lead to a leaky gut. Therefore, make sure to use the food you’re not sensitive to, and steer clear of the western pattern diet to avoid the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
7. Viral or Bacterial Infections
Infections are a common cause for inflamed thyroid because they infect your throat and intestine, and invade your thyroid too. Consequently, it leads to thyroid issues and symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up often show up due to multiple reasons. For instance, lack of sleep, consumption of sensitive food, and lack of nutrients, all may result in an outbreak. How long Hashimoto’s flare ups last also depends on the number and severity of causes.
Figuring out what triggers the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up is the key to its treatment. However, identifying them can be difficult, as they’re likely to be a few. Try tracking and combating only one cause at a time to avoid the complexity and speed up the process.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Flare Up
Now that we know what causes Hashimoto’s flare ups, you should think about tackling them. But before we discuss the treatment, it’s necessary to understand the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
The list below details signs divided into two broad categories; physical and mental.
1. Physical Symptoms
Bodily signs of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are plenty. Here are the most common ones.
1: Excessive Hair Loss: You may experience more hair loss from the head and body than usual. In some cases, thinning eyebrows that won’t grow back is also a symptom.
2: Body and Joint Aches: Severe or vague body ache is an indication. You may also feel joint pain similar to arthritic pain, resembling another sign of Hashimoto’s flare-up.
3: Change in Weight:
You can either experience a gain or loss in weight. Most people find an increase in their appetite.
4: Swollen Eyes:
Although common in Graves’ disease and hyperthyroid, swollen or bulging eyes are also one of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up.
5: Unstable Heartbeats: Another indication is a change in heartbeat characterized either by skipping or racing heartbeats, which come in clusters. If you experience this sign, we suggest visiting a cardiologist to ensure you don’t have a heart condition.
6: Cold Hands and Feet:
You will always feel cold hands and feet, and find yourself in frequent need of socks and gloves.
7: Un-resistance to Heat or Cold: People with Hashimoto’s condition show intolerance toward heat or cold. Generally, the victims are colder than others are and need sweaters and blankets even in mild temperatures. Similarly, some people might experience heat more than others may, even when the temperature is quite cold.
8: Inconsistent Periods and Menstrual Cycles: Heavy periods characterize this sign of Hashimoto’s flare-up. You might experience irregular periods, which in turn leads to abnormal blood loss. Furthermore, you may observe variations of months in your menstrual cycle, with periods in between being quite common. Contrarily, some women possibly will experience non-existent periods. However, excessive periods normally come under autoimmune conditions.
9: Exhaustion and Lack of Sleep: People with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis experience a lack of sleep, leading to fatigue and exhaustion. In some cases, the tiredness doesn’t go away with slumber. People take up to 15 hours of sleep and still feel fatigued and drained.
10: Irritation and Bad Temper: Among the physical symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up is bad temper and irritation. Often this anger occurs due to hunger, but in some cases, it remains even after taking a low-sugar and healthy diet.
2. Mental Symptoms
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up that occur due to mental conditions include.
1: Mood Swings: You’d feel a constant change in your mood without any event triggering it. One moment of happiness may instantly change into irritation and sadness without a real cause. Even the slightest of reasons would cause your mood to change quickly.
2: Depression: Hashimoto’s flare-up can lead to overthinking and depression. This sign can initiate a negative feeling about everything in your life and you’d feel demotivated to carry on with your goals.
3: Restless Sleep: As revealed before, insomnia is an indicator of the flare-up. However, even if you get some sleep, it will be restless. Disturbed sleep at around 2-3 am is common, with insomnia following up.
4: Panic Attacks: Without any real cause or stressor, you may feel constant anxiety, which is uncontrollable. This continuous unease without a logical explanation makes the person mentally weak and may lead to panic attacks.
5: Memory Loss: Another mental sign is short or long-term memory loss. You may have a hard time recalling why you are doing a certain activity, remembering people’s names, and keeping track of things learned or heard.
6: Brain Fog: Having difficulty thinking is another indication. It might take you a couple of reading rounds to comprehend a sentence and excessive thinking to unravel anything slightly complicated.
How to Deal with Hashimoto’s Flare-Up
Now that we know how problematic Hashimoto’s flare-up can be, let’s examine the top 7 strategies to tackle this autoimmune condition.
1. Manage Stress
A way to get rid of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up is to reduce stress. A study shows that long-term anxiety has devastating effects on the body’s every system. Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases the heart rate and blood pressure as well as raises the blood sugar level and energy supplies. Cortisol also changes the way the immune system operates and slows down the tissue repairing process.
High cortisol levels for a prolonged period can trigger Hashimoto’s occurrence. Therefore, you must manage stress to avoid this autoimmune condition. Begin by identifying what causes stress in your life and steer clear of those activities. Furthermore, indulge yourself in activities you love and practice relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.
2. Low Impact Exercise
So, how to calm Hashimoto’s flare up? It is simple; practice gentle exercise. In thyroid condition, you most likely would not want to exercise due to exhaustion, mood swings, or any other reason. During flare-ups, this demotivation is even more obvious due to joint and muscle pain. However, gentle exercise can help overcome fatigue and body pain, leading to an effective way of tackling Hashimoto’s flare-up.
A study unveils that people with autoimmune conditions and flare-ups need regular exercise. When experiencing Hashimoto’s flare up symptoms, try gentle workouts such as walking, stretching, and yoga. These activities can uplift your mood by releasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Gentle exercises can also make you feel better by subduing joint and muscle pain and improving your mobility. Furthermore, there’s more oxygen available to your body and nutrients to your organs while practicing gentle exercises.
3. Lifestyle Changes
An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up. Therefore, it’s essential to exclude every activity that causes the autoimmune disease. Including poor diet, some common lifestyle issues in patients with Hashimoto’s flare-up are:
1: Over occupied in activities causing too much stress
2: Practicing excessive exercise
3: Not working out at all
4: Having high blood sugar – Taking too little sleep
5: The first step is identifying the issues with your lifestyle and then making changes to them. Practicing better self-care is also an essential step you must take to improve your lifestyle.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Gut and thyroid health depend on eating simple and real food. Furthermore, a real diet can reduce the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up. It will eliminate inflammation in your body and consequently improves gut health.
The anti-inflammatory diet may vary from person to person. Nevertheless, the following dietary approaches can help reduce the signs of the autoimmune condition.
1: A diet with low carbohydrates is beneficial for some Hashimoto’s patients.
2: Include more fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed food free of chemical preservatives in your diet.
3: A gluten-free diet is helpful for many Hashimoto’s patients.
4: Taking a low iodine diet is beneficial for thyroid patients.
5: Monitor your diet and identify any food triggering the flare-up. Reduce or altogether give up this food in your diet.
However, if you seek to follow a specific food to tackle Hashimoto’s flare-up, the Paleo Diet is a good option. It’s suitable as a long-term diet, contains low carbs, triggers foods, and is anti-inflammatory.
Similarly, you can follow the AIP Diet if the Paleo does not suit you. The AIP regimen aims to lessen signs caused by autoimmune diseases, inflammation, and pain by identifying food that triggers them.
Are you looking to cut sugar use in your daily diet but having difficulty? Here is a guide on Sugar Detox to learn easy ways to eliminate added sugar from your diet.
Taking the following supplements is another way to treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
1: Selenium: Taking selenium supplements can treat the flare-up by reducing TPO antibodies. However, only consider up to a 6 months supplement plan, as selenium is less effective in the long run.
2: Vitamin D: Supplements of Vitamin D can improve thyroid health by reducing thyroid antibodies. Naturally, you can get vitamin D through sun exposure.
3: Iron: Supplementing iron is beneficial for patients with below-average serum ferritin levels – a storage form of iron. Improving iron levels can reduce fatigue and in turn subdue flare-ups.
4: Betaine Hydrochloride (HCI): A study shows that around 40% of hypothyroid patients suffer from low stomach acid. HCI supplements can raise stomach acid and improve iron, vitamin B12, and thyroid medication absorptions.
2. Tackle Gut Infections
If none of the above treatments has shown improvements in the symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up, the next step is to identify potential gut infections. Research unveils a positive relationship between gut infections and thyroid problems. Some of these infections include B. Hominis infection, H. Pylori infection, and Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
We suggest visiting an experienced health practitioner for identifying and treating gut infections. Do not try medications based on your assumptions.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis brings about frequent attacks on the thyroid and reduces thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s flare-up develops when the signs of the autoimmune disease quickly return. The symptoms of Hashimoto’s flare up are either physical, such as muscle and joint pain, or mental, such as depression and memory loss. Reasons for the flare-up include interference of medication and supplements, lack of sleep, and shortage of certain nutrients. Fortunately, Hashimoto’s flare-up is treatable through anti-inflammatory diets, gentle exercise, managing stress, and other ways. However, we strongly suggest visiting a professional healthcare practitioner before trying any of these treatments on your own to remain on the safe side.