Medically reviewed by
Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND, a licensed Naturopathic Doctor with clinical focus in thyroid conditions and Hashimoto's disease through The College of Naturopaths of Ontario, Canada.
Fighting infections can be difficult if your health is compromised by a thyroid condition. Learn how you can effectively manage your cold and flu symptoms using these at-home remedies.
The thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your neck, and it is responsible for balancing the hormones that control your bodily functions.
Because thyroid hormones are implicated in functions like metabolism that occur all through the body, a thyroid condition can make it difficult to maintain overall health. It can be especially difficult for individuals to battle infectious diseases as managing thyroid conditions can be complex and have various effects on a person’s immunity.
It can make dealing with the cold season especially hard, so here are some things you can do at home to better manage your cold and flu symptoms.
At-Home Cold and Flu Management Remedies
The most important thing to do when battling any infection is to keep yourself hydrated. Whether it is through mucus, peeing, lowered appetite, or emesis (the fancy word for throwing up), we generally consume much less water than we are losing when we are sick.
Therefore, it is important to deliberately and continually drink a lot of water when you are sick. Not only can this help to flush out pathogens and balance your electrolytes, but it also boosts your immune system. You can also use a humidifier to moisten the air.
One of the side effects of having an under-performing thyroid, as in the case with hypothyroidism, is that your body is unable to burn energy as efficiently. Consequently, you may experience cold intolerance because your body does not produce sufficient heat.
This can make you susceptible to catching a cold and less able to recover quickly. Some things you can do to keep yourself warm include:
- Turn up your thermostat
- Use a hot water bottle
- Wear socks, hats, scarves, and mitts, where applicable
- Drink chicken or bone broth
- Drink hot teas and warm milk with honey, which is highly thermogenic
- Have some garlic, or ginger
Pick Appropriate Decongestants
For most people, a cold or flu can mean congestion and difficulty breathing and if that is the case for you, you may turn to over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants like nasal sprays and cough syrups. However, it is important to know that some of their active medicinal ingredients can interact negatively with your thyroid medication.
One such compound is pseudoephedrine, which can also be found in allergy medication. OTC cough medicines can exacerbate blood pressure irregularities as well as ‘thyroid storms’, which are negative interactions that are toxic to your thyroid.
Therefore, when buying OTC medications, consider choosing options like NyQuil, DayQuil and Advil Congestion Relief, which contain less inflammatory phenylephrine instead. In any case, it is best to consult your doctor to see if your thyroid medications can react adversely with any of these options.
Essential oils are effective decongestants and can break down any mucus that may be blocking your nasal passages.
One way you can access these benefits is by rubbing menthol or camphor salves on your chest or under your nose. Alternatively, you can add essential oils to boiling water or a humidifier and breathe it in; great examples of oils to use include eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and lemon oils.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Vitamins and minerals are important to the functions of all cells, but especially to your immune system. If you are experiencing a cold, make sure you are receiving enough of the following:
- Vitamin A → Among its benefits to vision and fertility, Vitamin A is important for maintaining our body’s mucous membranes. These are one of the body’s initial defenses against pathogens and prevent them from entering our bodies or spreading to deeper tissue if they find their way into our mouths and respiratory tracts.
- Vitamin B12 → Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is important in helping our body grow new cells. As pathogens attack our respiratory cells and coughing irritates our airways, this vitamin lends to the important process of damage repair.
- Vitamin C → Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that fights inflammation and boosts our immune system. While you can take it in supplement form, it can easily be found in most citrus fruits as well as leafy vegetables.
- Zinc → Zinc is important for immune cell function and thyroid hormone production, and studies show that individuals with hypothyroidism generally have a deficiency in this mineral.
If you do not want to take supplement tablets and gummies, you can make vitamin-rich drinks at home that not only provide you with the nutrients you need to battle an infection but can also keep you hydrated. This can include juices, smoothies, and teas that feature:
- Echinacea extract/tea
- Mixed berries
- Elderberry syrup
- Rosehip tea
- Orange juice
- Lemon water/tea
- The thyroid is a small gland found at the base of your neck, and it is responsible for balancing the hormones that control your bodily functions.
- The most important thing to do when battling any infection is to keep yourself hydrated.
- Not only can drinking water help to flush out pathogens and balance your electrolytes, but it also boosts your immune system.
- One of the side effects of having an under-performing thyroid, as in the case with hypothyroidism, is that your body is unable to burn energy as efficiently.
- Consequently, you may experience cold intolerance because your body does not produce sufficient heat.
- Some active medicinal ingredients in over-the-counter decongestants can interact negatively with your thyroid medication.
- When buying OTC medications, consider choosing options like NyQuil, DayQuil, and Advil Congestion Relief, which contain less inflammatory phenylephrine instead.
- Some other steps you can take to manage your flu and cold symptoms at home include bundling up, taking vitamin/mineral supplements, and using aromatherapy.
By helping you track your diet, your medications as well as your symptoms, the ThyForLife app can assist you in managing your thyroid condition and understanding how your lifestyle impacts your health.