Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland under performs. It doesn’t release the right levels of hormones, causing the metabolism to slow and other bodily functions to act differently. While it’s more common as people get older, teenagers can suffer from the condition.
Getting medical help to manage hypothyroidism is essential. If allowed to continue uncontrolled, a teen will suffer from more symptoms and there are some complications. Your doctor will check the levels of your thyroid to determine the intervention needed for control. They can also make sure that it is hypothyroidism and not another condition.
However, there are natural remedies you can take to manage the levels. Here’s your all in one guide to managing hypothyroidism in your teenager.
Get the Treatment Right
Start with the right levels of medications. This can be a case of trial and error for some. While tests can say if a thyroid is underactive or overactive, they can’t always tell you the exact amount. Plus, everyone is different in the levels of hormones they naturally have. Doctors usually start with lower levels of the medication to help test amounts and work their way out until the thyroid symptoms disappear.
Work with your doctor. Encourage your teenager to go to appointments regularly and get the tests needed. You may also encourage your teen to take the right levels of the medication throughout the day. Some teenagers can be forgetful or may not want to rely on medications, so they’ll need you to help understand the importance of them.
There are no known natural remedies to help completely manage hypothyroidism. While natural remedies can help to alleviate some of the symptoms, they can’t repair the underactive thyroid. Your teen requires medication to help manage.
Once the medication is at the right levels, the symptoms will disappear. It’s only if the body starts to get used to the levels or the thyroid starts to deteriorate further that more medications will be needed.
Sometimes, underactive thyroids can lead to thyroid cancer. Therefore, regular visits to the doctor to test levels and check on the overall health are necessary. Thyroid cancer is rare, but it better caught in the earlier stages of better treatment. Most of the time it will mean the removal of the thyroid gland and medication needed to regulate the hormones.
Manage the Diet to Avoid the Weight Gain Problem
One of the most commonly known symptoms of thyroid problems is issues with your weight management. When the thyroid is underactive, your metabolism slows down, which means you are more likely to gain weight. This is one of the latter symptoms, so you will need to talk to your doctor about it right away if your teen is gaining weight for unexplainable reasons.
When getting treatment for hypothyroidism, you’ll want to focus on healthier meals that help to keep a body sustained for long periods of time. There isn’t one specific diet, but teens have found success with diets that reduce the number of refined grains and sugars daily.
One of the other common symptoms is low energy levels. This can mean reaching for sugary snacks to give instant boosts of energy. Some will also reach for more caffeine, which can have an adverse effect on the health in large doses. It’s important to get a diet that will help to sustain the energy levels for longer periods, which is another reason to cut out the refined grains and sugars from the diet.
Focus on more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains throughout the day. Some teens have found success with the paleo diet, as it reduces the number of refined products by cutting them out completely. Some whole grains are still allowed, but only those that are found naturally. You can do a variation of the paleo diet where you allow other whole grains to make it more sustainable for impressionable teens.
High-fiber foods are considered beneficial for those with hypothyroidism. The fiber breaks down in the digestive system slowly, keeping someone feeling full and sustain energy levels. Fiber also helps to line the digestive system, making it easier to absorb nutrients and the levothyroxine you’ll be given for managing your diet. However, there are some fibrous foods that have the opposite effect, so talk to your doctor about the best options.
Also watch out for consuming supplements, especially iron and calcium. They can limit the amount of levothyroxine medication that absorbs into the body, causing your hormones levels to drop.
Eat Differently to Manage Your Energy Levels
As mentioned, it’s not just weight gain that’s a problem. Your energy levels will take a dip when your thyroid is underactive. Your metabolism slows, which means you don’t burn as many calories to get through the day. Fatigue is one of the earliest symptoms noticed by individuals with hypothyroidism.
While the types of food you eat will help to manage your energy levels, so will the types of foods and drinks you avoid. Caffeine may seem like it perks you up but getting too much is bad for you. Your body uses refined sugars and caffeine quickly. Yes, you get an energy boost, but you will get an energy slump afterward. You feel more tired than you did before you had the chocolate, cookies, and coffee, so you end up reaching for them again.
A little now and then isn’t going to be a major problem, but you shouldn’t rely on the chocolate and coffee to get through the day. Encourage your teen to change the way they eat and the foods they consume to support their energy levels.
Some of it is to do with the amount of food they eat in settings throughout the day. There’s a focus on eating three meals a day with two snacks in between. The idea is that the body is sustained. However, eating smaller meals spaced out throughout the day could be better. Opting for five or six small meals throughout the day can help to add energy as it’s depleting, so there’s a constant long boost of energy.
A meal will usually sustain the body for 3-4 hours. Your body will want more food every three hours or so. If you give it small portions throughout the day of healthy foods, you’ll find that energy levels are supported throughout, since the body doesn’t get past the four-hour mark where it starts to crave the higher sugar and caffeinated foods.
Use Exercise for Boosting Energy and Mental Health
Contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t burn through your energy. While it can burn calories, it speeds up your metabolism to help give you more energy throughout the day. People who exercise regularly can feel invigorated.
Hypothyroidism can be difficult on the mental health. The poor balance in hormones can lead to more stress and other negative chemicals being released in the brain. This can lead to a lack of dopamine and serotonin, which causes more depression and anxiety. You want to balance that out naturally where possible. Exercise is perfect for this.
When you exercise, the brain starts to release the positive chemicals. People get the feel-good hormones circulating around their body, helping to reduce the problems the mental health experiences.
Your teenager should get about 60 minutes of exercise a day. This doesn’t have to be in one sitting, but you want to encourage more exercise and activity. If your child likes to skip PE lessons, encourage more attendance and joining in for the sake of the thyroid levels.
It’s also worth encouraging more exercise after school. Try to encourage exercise that your teen likes. If they like dancing, book dance lessons or encourage dancing in the bedroom. Does your teen love play soccer? Look for Saturday teams that play to give them chance to make new friends and do something they enjoy.
Teenagers that do exercise they enjoy are more likely to stick with it. They’ll also put more effort into the exercise, so they gain more of the benefits.
Don’t push your teen into doing 60 minutes every day right away. If they usually live a sedentary lifestyle, they will need to build their way up to the full amount. Encourage a day or two of exercise and slowly work up to five days a week. Do encourage a couple of days to rest a week. This is healthy for the body to recover from the exercise.
When looking into activities, encourage more movement to start with. This can be parking further away in the parking lot to encourage more walking. You can also encourage going for a walk on a morning and build your way up to a job. Consider leading by example, getting out with your teen so you both look after your individual health.
Look at Stress Reduction Techniques
Stress is a major problem for an underactive thyroid. The underactive thyroid can also lead to more stress in the body. Your teen has a vicious cycle that can put the overall health at risk. So, you want to reduce the number of stress hormones circulating throughout the body.
There are multiple ways to manage stress. The first is to understand why your teen feels stressed. This could be due to schooling, their illness, or even their social circle. You can help to find ways to manage the feelings due to problems. Encourage to talk to people when there are issues, such as discussing with you when they feel under pressure with school, activities, and any weekend job they have.
Managing stress levels can be easier said than done. It’s not always easy to change the way someone thinks or feels, so they’ll need to find techniques that help them manage their thoughts and be more Zen within themselves.
Yoga and meditation are two of the best options. Yoga is extremely beneficial since you link stress reduction with exercise. The activity can improve flexibility, strength, and balance. There’s the focus on breathing and the mind and soul, helping to naturally reduce stress hormones. More happy hormones start circulating to help to overpower the negative hormones in the body.
Meditation helps to ease the mind and anxiety. It’s not about focusing on nothing but focusing on breathing and calming the mind. There are various books and CDs to help start meditation.
Getting a monthly massage can also be useful. This will depend on funds but can help to ease the muscles and work out the knots. The relaxing process helps teens to rejuvenate within.
Get More Sleep
Hypothyroidism and stress due to a chronic illness will affect the sleep. Despite feeling fatigued, many teens find it difficult to sleep. They then get up extremely early for school and struggle to get through the day. Teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep. This is slightly more than adults, as there is still plenty of growth happening.
You want to help encourage more sleep throughout the night. This can mean setting a strict bedtime schedule. Most teens will want to stay up, but they need to think about their health, their stress levels, and their hormones. Don’t push for a strict schedule but encourage what is best for the health. As teens see that there is a difference, they will start sticking to a bedtime routine more frequently.
This is going to be the hardest part, as just because your teen goes to bed doesn’t mean they’ll sleep. Insomnia is a side effect of hypothyroidism and your doctor may need to step in and help with this.
Managing Hypothyroidism in Teens Is Possible
It can sometimes seem impossible, but you can help your teen. Be there for support when necessary and help encourage a healthier lifestyle to support the illness. Hypothyroidism is a chronic illness, which means there’s no cure. The management is to reduce symptoms and improve the overall health. This can be stressful and difficult, so your teen will need you around to help get it right and understand when the symptoms are playing up if medication isn’t right.