Symptom Management: Muscle Weakness

Introduction

Hey, welcome back to the Thyroidcafe. I had no idea muscle weakness, myopathy, affects 79% of thyroid patients – that’s a ton of people! I’m thankful we live in a time and place in which it’s treatable, though I have my skepticism. However you may want to start treatment before I did. But don’t worry, I made it out alive.

Repelling and Hair untamed 

Contrary to the meek stereotypes of being female, and a christian, I used to love adventure sports. In the summer of 2005, I set out on my Australian outdoor adventure. After a half day hiking, we came to the twenty-five foot falls. I confidently backed off the cliff.  I didn’t know Hashimoto’s disease was stealing my strength. Weak hands shaking. Hoping to hold on as the rope slowly slipped through my hands. I made it. And brushed off my weakness, though I never repelled again. Weakness in my hands was a subtle sign of thyroid disease taking hold of my body. Myopathy can progress, making everyday events such as stairs and doing your hair difficult. It can even be life threatening if not treated. But I think I’ll just use it as an excuse for my untamed tresses. 


The science behind it

Muscle weakness is a vague symptom of thyroid disease. It can be caused by Hypothyroid Myopathy or anemia. All thyroid diseases can cause muscle weakness, aches and cramping. It is typically centralized, in your thighs and shoulders. You may need to bring it up with your doctor, as myopathy can be overlooked or confused with fatigue. Rarely, other complications arise.  As with most thyroid symptoms, we don’t know why thyroid disease causes muscle issues. 

How to not fall down a twenty-five foot waterfall

From the studies I read, myopathy is treated by addressing the thyroid disease with medication. However, T4 levels seem to be affected, so dessicate thyroid pills are the best option. Even on the correct medication, at the appropriate dosage, treatment can take up to a year to take effect. Thyroid disease makes healing into a marathon sport! Along with your pills, physical activity is recommended. However, if you suspect your muscle weakness is due to anemia, a simple iron supplement will have you Hulking in no time. 

Conclusion 

I am always skeptical when thyroid medication is seen as a comprehensive treatment for thyroid symptoms, they seem to linger. Iron pills and optimizing my dosage has lessened my muscle weakness to a liveable level. However, I don’t see anymore waterfalls in my future. 

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: Hair Loss

Introduction 

Hey, welcome to the Thyroidcafe. I remember taking showers and pulling chunks of hair out, by the handful. At the same time in the early 2000s, I assumed my eyebrows were victims of the over-plucked style. But these were actually symptoms. I didn’t understand that this was more than vanity; it was a disease. My crown was not just falling out; it was telling me something.

The Three T’s 

If I wanted to get back to Rapunzel, the first step was optimizing my thyroid levels. TSH, T4, and T3 hormones regulate hair loss and regeneration. Having your hormone levels not only within normal range, but optimized, is the foundation to getting your hair back. Once optimized, the results can take weeks, if not months, so it’s important to be patient.

You are what you eat

In researching, I found this study regarding hair loss. What was interesting was, it excluded thyroid patients. Their reasoning was that thyroid patients have low ferritin and iron levels. Following that strand (pun intended) it’s easy to see the effects vitamins have on hair growth. The table blow lists common vitamins that can help with hair growth. While I wish I had a Pinterest perfect diet, I can only do my best and add supplements where I fall short. They have helped me so much, both with my hair and otherwise, that I bought this pill organizer. 

Vitamins:
Vitamins B-7 (biotin) and B complex
zinc
Copper
Iron
vitamins C, E, A
coenzyme Q10


Herbs:
palmetto
black
cohosh
dong quai
False unicorn
chaste berry
red clover

Sugar and Spice….

There are plenty of snake oils promising recovery of hair loss. I have included the most common herbal remedies above. Though I cannot promise they work, as I haven’t tried them. Some side effects listed online, including drug interactions, are enough to scare me off. I linked some information for you to choose for yourself, simply click on the name of the herb.

And Everything Nice (Conclusion) 

Common sense still rules. Gentle kindness will prevent breakage – of most things. Pulling your hair into tight styles can damage it. Brushing wet hair can cause breakage. Heat and dye stress your hair. However, hair health comes down to what we put into it. So, before you pull your hair out over hair loss, (I’ve been waiting all week for that pun!) try looking at it as a symptom. Addressing the underlying matters of thyroid hormones and diet can help stop hair loss. If you have tried the herbal remedies, I would love to know about it in the comments below.