Symptom Management: Restless Leg Syndrome

Introduction 

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe – we are discussing Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) this week, so maybe I’ll switch to decaf for this blog? For years I suffered every night. Fighting the urge to move my legs, though I didn’t give it much thought. After ignoring this symptom, I finally did my research. The many solutions and even prescriptions available were a pleasant surprise.

My experience and symptoms 

I lay in my exhaustion. I self-medicated thyroid disease with a dozen cups of coffee, yet my eyes screamed for sleep. Yet my legs marched on. I would rub them together until wounds wore on my feet. Occurring at night or lying down, my symptoms were by the book. RLS is defined as restlessness only revived by moving your legs.  It is common in those with chronic illnesses and those with a genetic predisposition to it. So my legs wiggled with the energy I’d wished to contain for the next day. 

At Home Solutions 

After asking my online friends for at home solutions and doing my research, the response overwhelmed me. Happily, there are many solutions to RLS. Vitamin D, Iron and Magnesium are the most common dietary solutions to RLS. Magnesium can be taken as a pill or rubbed in. For me, this was the solution to RLS. The ever taxing Epsom salt bath is another popular solution and one of my favorites. I also take CBD oil. It calms both mental and physical restlessness.  If your legs are still defiant, massage and stretching may calm them, along with exercise. I had to laugh at the suggestion that RLS could be solved by getting more sleep, hello vicious cycle. Lastly, the Relaxis pad and weighted blankets were recommended. I haven’t tried either, but would love to know if they work. 


This product was recommended by fellow thyroid warrior, though I haven’t tried it myself.

More than an apple a day: Help from the Doctor 

Despite my foolish pride and overly ambitious online endeavors, one must seek help when needed. From a less invasive perspective, chiropractic care can provide relief. I fear recommending medication because of the side effects. However Ropinirole is commonly and effectively used. Ask your doctor for help if at-home remedies are not working for you. 

Conclusion: 

There are active solutions to our active legs. Through at-home and medical intervention, RLS can be one of the most manageable thyroid symptoms. For me, vitamin supplements and Epsom salt baths were the solutions. A few pills in the morning and a relaxing bath is the kind of symptom management I can handle. 

Symptom Management: Weight

Introduction

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. You’ve heard it. A million times. “Diet and exercise would help you lose weight.” But what if there’s more? Holding to this advice alone can leave you frustrated and dejected. But know for thyroid warriors, weight issues is more dynamic than that. We are not crazy or lazy. We are working double time towards a healthier body. Fortunately, weight can be regulated, even with our disease, but it’s a fight. 

Round One: Meds

You’re cruising the highway. The wind blows and the scenery flies by you. But you slow. You push the pedal down, but sputter to a stop. A little orange light glares and you know, you’re going nowhere without gas. Expecting weight loss without getting your thyroid hormones optimal, is as effective as running a car without gas. Because thyroid hormone regulates weight, no amount of diet and exercise can compensate for uncontrolled hormone levels. So medication optimization is first on my list for a reason; it’s the cornerstone to weight loss. 

Round Two: Listening 

A yawn is not a silent scream for coffee, as much as I hate to admit it. It’s your body asking for a need, sleep. Listening to your body isn’t some mystical concept. It’s giving weight (pun intended) to your body’s basic needs. Tracking my diet is one way I learned to listed to my body’s needs. (See “Round Three” below for common problem foods.)  Second, and to my great pleasure, listen to stress levels. When we’re stressed, our bodies increase cortisol levels, which lowers thyroid levels, causing us to gain weight. This is part of the reason extreme calorie restrictions don’t work for thyroid patients. Our bodies are already taxed, adding the stress of excessive calorie restrictions doesn’t help. And if you’re like me, stress leads to gobbling cookies like Shaggy and Scooby. So soak in that bath. See that old friend. Walk in that park. There are many needs we can be attentive to, such as thirst, indigestion, sensitivity to cold, etc. study your body, to understand its needs.

Round Three: Food and water

While “don’t eat fast food or binge drink soda” remains universally good advice, there’s more to diet for thyroid warriors. For us, food can cause weight gain through inflammation. After having kids, I was puffy Marshmallow Meghan. Pictures made me shutter until I read about inflammation. The table below outlines some foods that commonly cause inflammation. I would recommend removing as many as reasonable from your diet, then adding them back in, one at a time. I allowed a few weeks between introductions, to mark how they affected me.  I post a lot of my meals on our Instagram account. They are all easy, family meals.

Foods that cause me inflammationFoods I eat like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka
Refined carbs, ie: “white” bread, rice etc  Sugar, Has many listed names, Trans fats, Gluten, dairy, Processed meats oils, alcoholWhole, high healthy fat, plant based proteins, fish, gluten-free food,  fruit and veggies

Another helpful tip for weight loss is to drink plenty of water. No only does this keep the body happily hydrated, it fills the stomach. Diet is a broad topic, which I hope to chat about again at the Thyroidcafe. 

Round Four: Exercise 

I subconsciously took a deep breath before writing this. If you struggle with weight caused by thyroid disease, it is likely your thyroid hormone is on the lower side. If so, you may feel exhausted by the normal events of life. I don’t want to apply undue pressure to people already suffering. Regarding exercise, do what you can, when you can. Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming and biking are a place to start, once you feel healthy enough to do so. 

Conclusion 

I desperately want to take the burden of this disease from my fellow sufferers. The exhaustion, depression, sensitivity to cold – all of it. But the worst for me was the preconceived notions of others. Maybe it was my age, but I spent years crushed by worry that others would think I was “just lazy and fat.” But ten years on, this previously “lazy, fat” woman just wants to be healthy. I wish we could change the narrative from weight loss, to healthy weight. Because excess weight is a symptom of a larger medical issue. Prescription optimization, diet, and exercise will help you lose weight. But the bigger reward is gaining back our health. 

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