the cold-hard truth about hashimoto’s symptoms

the cold-hard truth about hashimoto's symptomsConsider your symptoms as an internal GPS to navigate you to wellness.

Written by Andrea Nakayama

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Hashimoto’s symptoms suck.

Symptoms like waking up tired, feeling run down, struggling with bowel dis-regularity or sudden skin issues can possess you, monopolize your thoughts and behavior and prescribe you to a life that falls outside of your dreams and potential.

Yet symptoms can also be your dependable GPS, the internal system that provides direction and key information for your next course of action.

The process of going from the suck to the sympathetic doesn’t happen overnight. It comes first from the fortitude to seek explanation. Why do those symptoms not just persist but dominate, despite your best efforts to do what you know to address them?

Symptoms don’t look alike for everyone. My Hashimoto’s symptoms likely look quite different than yours, which look different than my mother’s. Not having all symptoms doesn’t mean your handful are less relevant.

Take a look at the top results from the Hashimoto’s Symptom Survey I’ve collected from nearly 3,000 participants. Responses came flowing in with fatigue, difficulty losing weight and poor concentration afflicting more than 75% of the survey participants.

These are symptoms that most definitely suck.

Hashimoto's Symptom Survey

step #1: seek explanation

It’s my strong opinion that we all owe it to ourselves to seek the support that will help us interpret the meaning or the reason for our symptoms. While this same thinking may not be true of an actual diagnosis ~ we may not benefit from steeping ourselves in the quest for why ~ a symptom always has a root cause.

There is always a reason why.

The root cause of your symptoms may even provide insight about the diagnosis itself.

Upwards of 95% of hypothyroid cases in the U.S. are actually autoimmune thyroiditis (or Hashimoto’s), that’s not being addressed by traditional hypothyroid care. Hashimoto’s can even deceive the practitioner, making it appear that you are not hypothyroid on standard labs even when you have every suspicion that you are.

This leaves too many of us struggling with symptoms like those in the graph above without any explanation or resolution at all. It deludes hope.

Don’t give up hope. Seek explanation and those that can provide it.

step #2: tailor your treatment

If fatigue, resistant weight loss, and brain fog are your concerns, coffee, calorie restriction, excessive workouts and Suduko may not provide lasting resolution, as you’ve likely experienced. I have too! That’s because these seeming solutions are sidestepping the root cause of your symptoms.

Sadly, there’s no quick-fix or one right way to treat a diagnosis of any sort.

In fact, recently I read a report on how to address hypothyroidism by consuming a hearty breakfast of eggs, raw milk, coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. I can tell you that with my unique internal system (i.e. my symptoms and sensitivities), that this prescribed morning meal would leave me bathroom bound all day, oscillating between nausea, loose stools and swinging energy levels. And that’s just on day one. I hate to think of what a week of this regime would do to my system!

(Who needs symptoms in response to the supposed resolution? That sounds like the trap of the pharmaceutical industry to me.)

With no one-size-fits-all solution, it takes a deeper understanding of your internal situation, from your symptoms to your story, to navigate the management of any condition, particularly an autoimmune condition. This is a level of detection that you are poised to do better than anyone else on your team, at least with the right guide.

step #3: sponsor your symptom sensitivity

The bottom line is that symptoms suck when they rule your life, when they’ve taken over your everyday and seem to define you and everything you do.

What if the goal were not to be symptom free? What if the goal was to harness and mitigate those symptoms so that you could become symptom sensitive, using your symptoms as the GPS that helps to re-route you, keeping you on the course that allows you to experience the freedom to live your life to its fullest?

Step by step to symptom sensitivity. . .

(Remember, your symptoms are your GPS. Learn to pay heed to the directions!)

P.S. Where do your symptoms fall in relation to the Top Ten Responses to our Symptoms Survey?

About Andrea Nakayama

Andrea is a functional nutritionist and the founder of Functional Nutrition Alliance. Based on her personal experience with Hashimoto’s, she helps women manage the ill effects of Hashimoto’s through a deeper understanding of their physiology and a strong commitment to self-care. Andrea is the co-author of Living Candida-Free with chef and blogger Ricki Heller.

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About Dana Trentini

I founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid Mom is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links to favorite resources including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Connect with me on Google+


  1. I’m new here, just googled to see if my Hashimoto’s could cause hot flashes or not and this was one of the resources it pulled up. I was only just diagnosed at the beginning of July, runs in the family and I was feeling so worn out I got it tested. The only problem is, they told me my levels were in the normal range right now so there’s no reason to start medications. I feel like maybe my normal isn’t the same as other’s normal because this summer has been so terrible. I relate so much right now with the first paragraph of your post. If anyone has any ideas on how to manage the fatigue, acne, anxiety, bowel problems, hot flashes, run down feelings, etc without the medications usually given please let me know. I’m grateful to not necessarily need them right now according to doctors, but at the same time feel super lost. Thanks.

    • I have Hashimotos also and most conventional doctors will tell you that your numbers are in normal range, but I bet your thyroid antibody test would come back high. I found a wellness doctor that treats with LDN and he has you check basal temps and pulse rate for 4 days. I also got put on Armour thyroid. These meds are making a huge difference. Try and find another doctor. You need a wellness doctor. Let me know if you need more info

  2. Hello,
    I have Hashi as well. About 3 years ago I saw an endocrine doctor and was diagnosed. I have OSA as well so along with Hashi’s I find my self not wanting to do anything. I take meds for hypo and meds for narcoleptic symptoms. I am cold all the time unless the temp is 100 F with a humidity level of 95 – 100. My doc put me on levothyroxine but I break out in hives and itch so bad that I cannot take the meds because the itching becomes my life. My weight has increased every year and I know it is due to the sleepiness. I have fallen asleep driving and with the combination of OSA and Hashi’s it’s hard to say what is causing me to be so sleepy. I have concentration problems as well and forgetfulness is awful. I am worried about my job and driving and wonder if I should apply for disability for the safety of myself and others.

  3. Hello! My name is Nalvis! I was diagnosed with Hashimotos in 2008. I spent over 7 years looking for a way out of this, I spent over 15000.00 dollars in treatment and diets. I got to the point that I was so desperate and started getting panic attacks all the time almost every day. I got into such a bad depression that I thought I was going to die but one day I went to a Christian Church and met the one who saw me struggle, the one who saved me and can saved you as well! Today I have no symposium and I serve him with all my heart! Jesus is my healer! Amen

    • Jesus is the great Healer but God has given us medicines to use to help make us well. I thank God for the healers and doctors and researchers who give us Thyroid Hormones! God heals but it’s important that we do our part, then He does His.

      I have Hashimoto’s which has been very well controlled for the last five years but a few months ago ExpressScripts switched my generic from one manufacturer to another and now I’m soooo tired I could sleep all the time, my joints hurt, I’m trying so hard to lose weight and I feel like nothing’s happening, and my heart pounds when I walk up stairs or lift my arms. Today I’m seeing my doctor to get the meds adjusted and hopefully back to normal! Thanks for all the dietary suggestions.

    • Nalvis,
      Praise God for your healing and your wonderful testimony! God bless you.

  4. Charlene says:

    Hypothyroidism is often a symptom of one or more other auto immune disorders. Many auto immune disorders can affect people in ways such as you describe. You should definitely talk to your doctor about all of your symptoms as they may be related.

    I too get phlegm and coughing. I have found that it is exacerbated by processed foods and fast foods. Both me and my son have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Our antibodies were in the 600’s and 800’s. Our Dr. put us on a 30 day grain free diet, NOT gluten free. For the past year we are now 80/20 with our grain, this means less than 20% of our daily food intake is grain. Its a difficult life change but we are doing very good. Our Dr also has us eating vegetables at breakfast and we have fruits and vegetables with each meal and nuts everyday. You should discuss diet with your Dr. Diet is a major factor in controlling thyroid disease. It can be difficult to find your food triggers, but once you do and you cut them from your diet, you will be amazed at how good you feel.

    I wish you luck on your thyroid journey.

  5. so I am new on Here. I was given my first 25 mcg of synthroic over 6 mos. ago. Being that I had a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2006 I kept chalking my mental symptoms up to and fatigue up to my brain. I was an alcoholic and drug addict more than 11 years ago. It was in one of these runs, or binges that, unfortunately my heart stopped and I recieved no oxygen for more than 7 minutes. Anyway, in 2007 while at a neurologis I was told I had early-onset Parkinson’s and no, my hand would never stop shaking at 35. 2 years later it did, and he felt I had a stroke. After awhile I gave up but in some bloodwork I was told among low testosterone that my endocrinologist should also start me on Synthroid. What can I say, for about the last year, my cognition and executive function have been getting horrible, to the point I was getting agoraphobic. I was really sick with anxiety and was thinking I was gonna lose it. I also had no appetite. About 2 weeks ago I started at 12.5 mcg and you know what, probably 50 percent of my brain fog and frustration is starting to really get clearer. I mean I felt out of control. I was not even planning for a future anymore, and here I am able to multitask a little bit. I still have a mild brain injury, but God if I had not listened to my endocrinologist I would not have been so grateful and also take hypothyroidism very seriously. My fog felt like I was dying. I just hope it keeps up. God Blessed me with a life and a pill.

  6. Hi there. Nice article.

    Im sort of at a loss. I have been diagnosed with Hashis recently after a long time looking for answers.

    I have persistent reflux despite having surgery to correct it and I almost perenially short of breath despite being able to exercise well. My heart pounds heavily for no reason and I have developed a cough where I can ate phlegm disgustingly but rarely can cough it up.

    I try to stay positive. Got a baby on the way and the family depend on me. I take the levothyroxine on an empty stomach every morning about the same time and wait for an hour before consuming anything else.

    I can deal with sluggishness but its the indigestion, breathlessness, heart sensitivity and coughing I need to do away with. I assume they’re all related. My dad has hypo but lives well. I can too but getting over this barrier is hard. I won’t quit. Will never ever quit. I love fighting too much. But if you have any suggestions it would help me combat this issue smartly and not juat zealously. I’d really appreciate that if anything comes to mind.

    • Reflux (GERD) came on suddenly when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s out of the blue. I had a lump in my throat and sudden coughing, etc., along with feeling very tired & depressed.

      One of my docs suggested that I start with a small 5 mcg dose of Liothyronine (T3) along with a low acid diet. You might try this as it’s really helped, though I still can’t eat certain trigger foods (hot/spicy or curry). I will increase T3 shortly, as it seems to help with my state of mind, too. I don’t take Levothyroxine as it made my GERD symptoms much worse…

      • Thank you so much for the reply. Still struggling with it. But will bear that in mind. Where I live at the moment doesn’t use t3 medications because they say the half-life of the medicine is shorter than t4 so it can be hard to measure. It seems untrue but then it is national policy…

        I will look further into it.Thank you!

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