Q. How do you push through the fatigue? I just want to get my life back on track.
Q. I’ve got hypothyroidism/Hashimotos. Around noon I start getting tired and it can get to the point of dozing off. I've had every thyroid level possible checked and it's within normal range. We've actually checked it numerous times. I've had my b12 and folic acid checked along with my hormone levels, vitamin levels, and had a CBC done. Everything is good. I'm wondering if maybe we are missing something. Could I have something that we haven't checked for yet. I've also got bipolar2, depression/anxiety and ptsd which I take Topamax for. I also take Levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism.
First let’s talk about Topamax. I want you to know what you are on. Your doctor should be testing your kidney and liver function and your blood should be tested to be sure you are able to process the drug well. They can become toxic very quickly.
You should not drink alcohol while on this medication as it interferes with the effectiveness and it can make you sleepy as well as slow your heart rate.
Antacids will keep you from being able to absorb this medication as well as any nutrients from your food.
Fiber supplements can reduce the effectiveness of this medication.
This drug will cause you to be low in folate or deficient in it.
It has not been approved to treat PTSD but is endorsed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to treat bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
Common side effects:
Diarrhea, Dizziness, Double vision, Fever, Hair loss, Loss of appetite, Mood changes, Nausea, Reduced perspiration, Sinusitis, Stomach upset, Taste changes, Tingling or prickly skin sensations, Tremors, Uncontrollable eye movements, Urinary tract infection, Weakness, Weight loss.
With that being said, let’s move on and talk about fatigue.
This is a super common issue for those of us dealing with thyroid issues and there are a number of reasons why fatigue could be your issue.
You can have anemia from a deficiency of B12, Iron or folic acid. Your doctor may check your iron levels but do they check B12, folic acid and ferritin? Any one of these can contribute to fatigue. And just because your lab says you are in the normal range doesn’t mean you are in the optimal range. j
Normal ferritin levels are between 12 -150 ng/mL. Mine is currently at 17 and I struggle with energy often. Some thyroid experts would say that optimal ferritin levels should be at 90-110 ng/ml for good thyroid function. If you are still losing your hair- it could be an iron deficiency.
And B12 values from your doctors lab may include values from people who were deficient in B12 so you can’t always rely on the lab values. “normal” is between 200-900 pg/mL but under 350 can give you neurological symptoms.
Food sensitivities, not food allergies which is when your immune system reacts to protect you like when someone’s throat closes off in a nut allergy. This alerts the IgE part of your immune system and happens as soon as a food is ingested. The IgA and IgG sections of the immune system will react to foods in what I would call a sensitivity or intolerance. These can cause us to be fatigued.
IgA reactions happen in the intestinal tract which can cause inflammation there each time we consume a particular food. This will damage the intestines and can cause us to be unable to absorb nutrients from our diet. You may have symptoms like diarrhea or looser stools, constipation, reflux or you may not have any symptoms at all. You can end up with conditions like IBS, gas, rashes on your skin, acne, asthma, headaches, irritability and fatigue. Celiac disease is in this category.
If your T3 is low and you have high Reverse T3, this will affect your energy. T3 helps our cells make more energy. Reverse T3 makes T3 ineffective so that we are slowed down a bit. If Reverse T3 is high, we will not have any energy and one of the biggest reasons this might be high is due to stress. Another problem could be that you are not converting T4 into T3. This can be due to stress, or even nutrient deficiencies either due to low stomach acid or a compromised gut. You might find you need to be on a medication that has T3 in it.
If your TSH is high, you will not have energy. Not all lab values are created equal here. You need to make sure that you are in a good range. Lab values for TSH are made up from a population of all kinds of people- those who are seemingly healthy and those who have undiagnosed thyroid problems and even the elderly who often have lower functioning thyroids. The best reference range for most people is to have a TSH around .5-2 uIU/L. Personally, mine is lower than .5 and I feel pretty good on that. If you are taking NDT you can have a TSH that might look hyper and if your T3 is in normal range you probably feel pretty good. This can cause alarm with your doctor but try to have a conversation with them about it.
How is your blood sugar?
This is a really really big one because it affects our adrenal glands which also have a role in energy. The good old blood sugar roller coaster will cause your adrenals to become weaker or cause the signaling between your brain and your adrenals to not work well leading to what is called adrenal fatigue or HPA axis dysfunction. For people like us with Hashimoto’s we may not tolerate those refined carbohydrates very well at all. Sometimes we get a big release of insulin when we consume sugary or refined “white” foods that others might not. So our blood sugar goes up really fast and we may have too much insulin in our blood which causes us to crash with fatigue and even anxiety or nervousness. This stresses our adrenals and leads to more fatigue.
Adrenal health is important for energy. If you are suffering from Adrenal fatigue you likely don’t have much energy to speak of even if this is the only thing you are dealing with. This is such a big deal and it takes some time to bring your adrenal health back in good standing. You need to avoid caffeine, keep your blood sugar balanced, make sure you are sleeping well and resting when you can, managing stress and probably supplementing. You can listen to Episode 7 of this podcast for more on adrenals.
Having good digestion is key to energy.
Many of us will be nutrient deficient and usually deficient in those nutrients that help our thyroids to function well. Just having hypothyroidism makes it harder for us to get our nutrients out of the food we are eating. This means the digestive system has to work a little harder to break down our foods and this can cause a lot of fatigue. We often have lower levels of stomach acid and most of us don’t eat when we are relaxed and we certainly don’t take the time to chew our food well. Right there is three strikes against us in the energy department.
When we are not relaxed when we eat, we are not in “rest and digest” mode or what is called parasympathetic mode. This means we are in fight or flight mode which is not a good environment for good digestion. We already are not making enough stomach acid because we have symptoms of hypothyroidism, then we are not relaxed so we make even less. Then we are not chewing our food well- like 20 chews per bite to break it down. So, we have all this food in our stomach, not enough stomach acid and it is not being broken down. Our digestive system is working extra hard to try to break this stuff down- using all kinds of extra energy and that makes us tired. Then you have undigested food going through your intestines. You have leaky gut or intestinal permeability and these undigested food particles are then getting in to your blood stream causing your immune system to go on alert and inflammation occurs in the body. Fatigue is going to be a factor here.
If you have low vitamin D, you can have fatigue. Get some sun. Lay in the sun for 10-15 minutes or go for a walk on a sunny day and expose as much skin as possible. Take a supplement of D3 if needed and make sure to have your levels checked by your doctor. Low D is a factor in autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s.
A good diet will go a long way to helping you with your energy problems. High quality proteins and veggies along with a small amount of fruit. The big foods to eliminate for us are going to be gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts and I would try to eliminate nightshades to see if you feel better. This is basically called an elimination diet and is important for you to start to feel better, have more energy and bring your body back in to balance.
You can find Hydrozyme at www.getbiotics.com use code DFILC163 to access.