If someone in you life lives with hypothyroidism, sometimes it can be hard to know how to best support them. It's undoubtedly challenging when, in many ways, the condition is "invisible" to everyone but the sufferer. Understanding and supporting your partner in their condition will help them feel better and strengthen your relationship.
Ahead, five ways you can show support for your partner with hypothyroidism.
You may not know much about thyroid problems, but maybe you've heard something or know someone with the condition. Educating yourself on the thyroid is the best first step you can take to support your loved one.
The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. As part of the endocrine system, it produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism in the form of blood pressure, blood temperature, and heart rate.
When your thyroid hormone production drops, your body processes slow down and change, affecting virtually every system in the body.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
Research treatment options
The good news is that hypothyroidism is treatable in almost everyone. Optimizing thyroid levels with thyroid hormone replacement medication is usually the first step in minimizing some of the symptoms mentioned above.
Of course, we are all unique with individual sensitivities. Our bodies will not all react the same way to a specific medication or dosage. Finding the right thyroid treatment can be tricky or overwhelming, and may require some trial-and-error. Exercise patience as your loved one works with a trustworthy thyroid doctor to find the medication and dosage that works well for them.
Consider your shared diet
Beyond taking thyroid hormone replacement medication, holistic treatment requires proper nutrition and self-care. Your partner can certainly use your support in maintaining a lifestyle that promotes healthy thyroid function.
People with hypothyroidism may need to make modifications to their diet to feel their best. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for hypothyroidism. Each person needs to determine their dietary triggers and nutritional deficiencies to create an eating plan that works for them.
Of course, it can be challenging to stick to a specific diet if your partner is eating differently. Often, people who have specific dietary needs abandon their diet to avoid adding stress to their relationship. This lackadaisical attitude can backfire when an unbalanced diet causes symptoms to flare-up.
A thyroid-friendly diet promotes whole foods and restricts processed foods. You might consider preparing or eating the same foods during shared meals. Or try storing your non-thyroid friendly foods in an opaque container on a higher shelf to keep them out of sight and mind.
Start moving together
In addition to your loved one's meds, supplements, and lifestyle movement is super important for those with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's. However, it's often the last thing that they want to do due to weak, achy, or stiff muscles, joint pain, or fatigue.
Exercising incorrectly with low thyroid can make symptoms worse -- causing extreme fatigue, overextended hypermobile joints, worsened joint pain, or crampy muscles.
Someone with hypothyroidism needs to build functional strength to boost energy, beat fatigue, and feed muscle. Again, finding motivation and energy to strength train can feel nearly impossible with low thyroid, so start light and build-up to heavier weights.
As a partner, maybe you can build a new routine together. Two or three days a week set aside 20 minutes that the two of you can move together. Start by creating the habit with easy movements -- yoga, or light cardio. Then, as the behavior builds, begin bodyweight exercises, moving toward strength training.
Ask your partner what they need
Your partner may have specific requests of you that will help them succeed. Or, they may not want you to get involved at all. Ask your partner what they need from you in a way that allows for openness and safety in conversation. Getting clarity about how you can best support them improves the experience for both of you.
Having a partner with hypothyroidism is not only challenging for them, but it can also test your relationship. Be patient and understand that it's possible to feel better with diligent work. Paloma Health is here to make the process as easy and efficient as possible. Nothing is more important than you and your partner's health and happiness.