5 Hashimoto’s Flare Up Causes
Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, commonly called Hashimoto’s Disease, I’ve been putting in some serious research time learning about this disease and how to prevent flare-ups.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid disease that causes your immune system to target and destroy the thyroid’s hormone-producing cells. It’s one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the United States and it’s one of many autoimmune diseases that disproportionately affects more women than men.
If left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease can cause trouble swallowing, depression, reduced mental capacity, and even heart failure. Unfortunately, people with pre-existing autoimmune diseases are more likely to experience this disease and the likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s increases as you age.
The good news is, Hashimoto’s disease is a manageable disease. This means that the symptoms of Hashimoto’s can be prevented by preventing flare-ups. Flare-ups are a period of worsened or intensified symptoms caused by an added stressor to an already compromised immune system. When it comes to Hashimoto’s specifically, a flare-up can cause victims of this disease to experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism and cause disruptions in their everyday routine.
Several different things can cause Hashimoto’s flare-ups from environmental triggers to the food we eat. This is why it’s so important to know these causes of flare-ups and how to avoid them. So, let’s dive right in!
5 Hashimoto’s Flare Up Causes
Gluten is a protein found in many grains like wheat, rye, and barley. Some common foods that include gluten are pastries, cereal, bread, and processed lunch meats. So think carbs, bread, cakes, pasta, bagels, etc.
Gluten can cause a thyroiditis flare-up because of the effects it has on the small intestine. Eating gluten may cause irritation to the small intestine, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome and/or gut dysbiosis. Leaky gut syndrome allows toxins to escape into the bloodstream and triggers an autoimmune reaction that attacks healthy cells in the thyroid.
You can avoid gluten by moving to a gluten-free diet. Also, keep in mind that gluten can sometimes be found in alcoholic beverages. Especially beers. So it’s important to check that as well.
Dietary inflammation caused by eating unhealthy, greasy, or spicy foods is also a common trigger for Hashimoto’s flare-ups. These types of foods put extra stress on the immune system by causing inflammatory autoimmune reactions within the body, typically near the thyroid gland.
Eating these types of reactive foods can lead to diarrhea, bloating, gas, cramping, chronic inflammation, increased gastrointestinal stress, and possible elevation in thyroid antibodies.
So to avoid flare-ups caused by dietary inflammation, be sure to avoid any reactive foods that you know cause stomach pain, diarrhea, etc. You can also work with a registered dietician to create a meal plan that avoids these reactive foods.
Chronic stress can greatly affect your thyroid function. As the body sustains chronic stress, it causes the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, which is a thyroid-triggering hormone. This means that the more stress we sustain, the more cortisol we produce and the more we unduly trigger the thyroid. Then this can cause hyperthyroidism and have many negative effects on the body. These negative effects include weight gain, headaches, tiredness, and soreness. So the best way to avoid chronic stress is to manage the stress.
There are many ways to accomplish this. You might:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat healthy, nutrient-dense food
- Remove stressful situations and people from your life
- Meditate for stress-relief
- Research stress-management techniques
- Start a stress-relieving workout routine
- Visit a doctor or therapist about stress-management
Viral infections are a common environmental trigger of a Hashimoto’s flare-up. They can cause inflammation throughout the body which may trigger an autoimmune response to start attacking healthy cells.
The effects of a viral infection-triggered flare-up are more intense and longer-lasting infections, skin rashes, dry skin, brittle hair, and other similar symptoms. So it’s important to try to avoid being exposed to viral pathogens as best you can.
Some effective ways to avoid viruses are to:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly
- Wash your hands before and after eating
- Clean frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid touching your face
- Checking in with close contacts to see if they are also taking precautionary steps to stay healthy and keep you healthy.
Certain Nutrients & Minerals
When taking thyroid medication to manage your Hashimoto’s symptoms, certain nutrients and minerals can interfere with the effectiveness of your medication. Inference in your medication can trigger a flare-up by causing thyroid autoimmunity and an imbalance in your thyroid hormone levels. Common nutrients and minerals that can inference with thyroid functioning are calcium, iron, multivitamins containing iron, and antacids containing magnesium or aluminum. So check the labels on your vitamins!
You can avoid this type of interference by ensuring that you consume your medication at least 2-3 hours before consuming any additional supplements of calcium, iron, or antacids. Allowing the medication time to kick in before consuming these nutrients and minerals will prevent overlap and interference.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Flare-Ups
- Muscle & joint aches or pain
- Inflammation or puffy face
- Unexplained weight gain
- Pale complexion
- Dry skin
- Swollen or enlarged thyroid
- Cold sensitivity
- Dry hair or hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Muscle weakness
- Slower heart rate
- Trouble with memory
- Increased mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
Taking steps to prevent Hashimoto’s Disease flare-ups isn’t a guarantee, but they do help!
There are many causes of Hashimoto’s flare-ups, which is why it’s important to be aware of possible triggers. By avoiding common triggers, you can help keep your symptoms at bay and also maintain a high quality of life. When it comes to Hashimoto’s, there are plenty of life changes you can make to ensure you’re taking good care of yourself. For example, I’ve had to make huge changes to my workout routine which led me to write about the do’s and don’ts of exercising with Hashimoto’s Disease.
So, to wrap it up, I’ll leave you guys with two last pieces of advice. If you do start experiencing any symptoms of a Hashimoto’s flare-up, it’s really important to record your symptoms. Then try to figure out what caused them and track their severity. This will help you so much when learning what to avoid in the future. And finally, if you’re experiencing any common symptoms of autoimmune diseases at all, be sure to monitor your symptoms and reach out to a doctor as soon as possible. So I hope you guys found this information helpful and I’ll talk to you guys soon!