Flare ups seems to be rather common among those with a thyroid condition. They are defined as an increase in symptoms of the thyroid condition. A thyroid flare up usually lasts from a day to a week or so. Mine usually last one to two days.
Some people call an increase in thyroid antibody levels (after having them low for quite some time) a flare up. And others also use the term to describe a change in thyroid levels. I tend not to. I think this is confusing!
Symptoms can differ from person to person, although the most commonly reported in a flare up are:
- Increased fatigue
- Heaviness (as if your body is being weighed down)
- Worsened mental health
- Brain fog
- Flu-like symptoms (aches and pains)
- Switching between feeling really cold and really hot
Common triggers are said to be alcohol, poor food choices, mental or physical overexertion, stress, poor sleep, viral/bacterial or fungal infections, pregnancy and menstruation. However, as with everything, there is no set of rules for a thyroid flare up.
Over time, I have got better at knowing what triggers my thyroid flare ups, so that I can avoid them and reduce the number greatly. However, sometimes I’m still surprised and caught off guard as I discover an unlikely trigger. Read more about preventing, overcoming and coping with thyroid flare ups here.
So, I asked the thyroid community:
What has been the most unexpected cause of a thyroid flare up for you?
“This week my pollen allergies turned into a sinus infection/illness which then wiped me out for 3 days. Couldn’t get off the couch. Zero energy. I had to get a Myers cocktail/vitamin drip to finally get some energy back. Also steroids.”
“For me it’s pretty much every day that I get up really early, and go around without a nap or little rest, it drains me before 5pm usually. It used to be so frustrating but now that I kind of get how I work, I’ve been able to manage it better.”
“Getting a tattoo.”
“Mine is stress. I’m really struggling this week.”
“Started with hives, which is new for me.”
“High blood pressure. I stopped taking my Synthroid (thyroid medication) and that’s what happened. I’m back on it again.”
“Just cooking a big family meal on a Sunday can take me down for two or three days after! Which sucks because cooking is my zen therapy usually!”
“It’s usually diet related. Bread messes me up. And sugar. Combine the two with stress and I’m a hot mess.”
“A new one for me is travelling. Wipes me out for days.”
“Travelling that involves multiple forms of transport; weeks where my work week has two or more socialising/hosting things in it or a run of four consecutive weeks with jam packed weekends (as well as week night social things) and no down time other than for chores.”
“Busy at work, insufficient fluids, stress. Had a tooth out two weeks ago and pain was horrific – wiped me out completely for four days!”
“I had one alcoholic (a single measure! ) drink and it wiped me out for days. I thought I’d be OK. Boy was I wrong! Back to no alcohol it is.”
“Lack of sleep. working out too many days in a row.”
“Fighting against/ignoring the disease. I think I’m being strong, but I make it worse.”
“Sunlight and heat are big triggers for me.”
“When my brother passed last year unexpectedly.”
“Driving more than 30mins. makes me so exhausted and feels like I wanna collapse.”
“I’m only a few months in to a new role and felt like I was finding my feet doing presentations and training again but boy did I feel it! An exhaustion like no other!!! Just another reminder I need to pace myself and understand my limitations.”
Add your own in the comments section below.
Read other blogs in the ‘Thyroid Patients Explain’ format here.
Related post: Thyroid Patients Explain How Their Flare Ups Feel
Please know that you are certainly not alone and many patients do get better with optimal treatment. A properly treated thyroid condition should have no or very few symptoms. Of course, other illness, conditions and deficiencies can cause problems too, so explore them all if possible. Please see some ideas on where to start, here.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.