The thyroid is an important gland in the body and responsible for producing the vital thyroid hormone. This hormone plays a key role in many basic functions of the body, such as metabolism and growth. Not having enough or too much thyroid hormone leads to thyroid disease, which increases the risk for other aspects of health, such as menstruation, gastrointestinal problems, and cardiovascular wellness. This World Thyroid Day, let’s understand how thyroid and gut health are connected.
Can thyroid problems cause gastrointestinal problems?
According to Dr. Amit Miglani, Director and Head of Department of Gastroenterology, Asian Hospital, Faridabad, thyroid problems can cause gastrointestinal problems.
“The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism and digestion. When the thyroid gland produces too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormones, it can affect the digestive system and lead to gastrointestinal problems,” says Dr. Miglani.
What are the gut health symptoms of thyroid disease?
Thyroid disease can manifest with various gastrointestinal symptoms, the expert shares.
In hyperthyroidism, where there is an overproduction of thyroid hormones, patients may experience increased bowel movements or diarrhea, which may be watery and frequent. They may also have increased appetite and abdominal pain from unintentional weight loss.
In contrast, hypothyroidism, characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, can cause constipation, bloating, and decreased appetite. Some people may also experience abdominal discomfort, flatulence, or indigestion.
“It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and not everyone with thyroid disease will experience GI problems,” adds Dr. Miglani.
Also read: Thyroid myths you’ve always believed to be ‘facts’
Tips for Managing Gut Health Problems Due to Thyroid
If you have digestive problems related to thyroid problems, the following tips may help you manage these symptoms:
1. Maintain a well-balanced diet
Make sure your diet includes an adequate amount of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This can help relieve constipation and regulate bowel movements.
2. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and promote healthy digestion.
3. Watch your iodine intake
Iodine is essential for thyroid function, but excessive or inadequate intake can affect thyroid health. Consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate iodine levels for your specific condition.
4. Eat small, frequent meals
Eating smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals can ease digestive discomfort and prevent bloating.
5. Manage stress levels
Stress can exacerbate both thyroid and gut health problems. Participate in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or take part in hobbies you enjoy.
6. Follow your prescribed treatment
It is crucial to adhere to the thyroid medications prescribed and the treatment plan recommended by your health care provider. This helps stabilize thyroid hormone levels, which can relieve GI symptoms over time.
Remember, it is essential to discuss any concerns or symptoms you are experiencing with your healthcare provider, as they can provide personalized advice based on your specific situation.