Medically reviewed by
Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA
Hashimoto’s is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its healthy thyroid cells.
If you live with or know someone who suffers from Hashimoto’s, you’ve probably experienced the pain of a Hashimoto’s flare up. A Hashimoto’s flare up or attack is when your hypothyroid symptoms intensify and worsen.
What is a Hashimoto Flare Up?
An autoimmune flare-up can significantly affect your daily life and sometimes last for days on end. The main cause for Hashimoto’s flare ups is inflammation or low thyroid function.
Symptoms of a Hashimoto’s flare up can include:
- Aching muscles and joints
- Pale and/or dry skin
- Brain Fog
- Digestive issues
- Mental health issues
Causes of a Hashimoto’s flare-up
Physical or Environmental Stressors:
Any changes or deficiencies in your body can greatly affect not only your body but your mind as well. These types of physical stressors may lead to and trigger a Hashimoto’s flare up:
- Lack of certain nutrients
- Lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes or imbalances (pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills)
We know that the mind and body are connected, so it’s no surprise that if physical stressors can affect our mental state, the same goes vice versa.
These types of mental and emotional stressors can trigger a Hashimoto’s flare up:
- Post-traumatic stress
- Major life events (loss of a loved one, moving, career changes, divorce, relationship struggles)
Though stress alone will not cause a thyroid disorder, it can certainly aggravate it.
How to Treat a Hashimoto’s Flare Up?
First, determine what might be causing the flare up.
- Have there been any big changes in your life?
- Have you been ill or recently introduced or removed something from your diet?
Consider all the factors and stressors listed above and see if any apply to your current situation and state of mind.
Then, boost your diet with nutrients.
Lack of nutrition is one of the causes of a Hashimoto’s flare up. When you are in the middle of a flare-up, make sure you are nourishing your body with the correct foods. Ensure that your diet has plenty of thyroid-boosting nutrients such as:
- Vitamin D
These nutrients support not only your thyroid health but the entire body as well. Since one of the root causes for Hashimoto’s flare-up is inflammation, you also want to make sure you are avoiding foods that might be causing it.
- Avoid foods that are highly processed
- Eat a low carb diet
- Avoid refined sugars
Instead, try to incorporate a range of anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidant foods such as:
- Berries (acai, blueberries, blackberries etc)
- Salmon or other fatty fish (anchovies, sardines)
Finally, give yourself time to rest and recover.
A flare up can be mentally and physically tolling on the body, so don’t push yourself. Allow your body to rest and recuperate. Avoid over-exerting yourself with physical activity. If you wish to incorporate some movement try gentle exercises such as:
- Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its healthy thyroid cells
- A Hashimoto’s flare up or attack is when your hypothyroid symptoms intensify and worsen
- The main cause for Hashimoto’s flare ups is inflammation or low thyroid function
- Research has shown that a combination of genetics, stress and environmental factors contribute to the onset of a Hashimoto’s flare up
- Different physical, environmental, and mental stressors can all trigger a Hashimoto’s flare up
- Treating a Hashimoto’s flare up includes:
- Assessing your situation, figuring out the triggers, modifying your situation to better suit your mental and physical health if possible
- Ensuring your diet consists of the necessary nutrients to boost your thyroid function and health
- Avoiding inflammatory foods
- Giving your body time to rest and recover from a Hashimoto’s flare up
If you want to better manage your symptoms, moods, energy levels, and weight changes, download our ThyForLife app to get a head start! ThyForLife is an integrated thyroid solution right at your fingertips.
Here at ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. If you require more detailed information regarding medical terms, please consult your thyroid doctor.