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Why do some thyroid patients need more thyroid medication in the colder months?
It can be to do with our thyroid gland (as you probably guessed), thyroid hormones, and how our metabolism works.
What Thyroid Hormones Are Used For
The main purpose of thyroid hormones, produced by the thyroid gland (or put in manually via thyroid medication), is to ensure that the metabolism is running properly. People with an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism (and often not optimally medicated for it) may have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism, such as feeling cold a lot of the time.
We need the correct amount of thyroid hormones in our bodies to burn calories in order to create heat and fuel, which is important, in particular for your body temperature and energy levels.
In The Colder Months
In the winter, we may have a greater need for thyroid hormones (and medication), in order to create extra heat and fuel, to keep us warm and energised in the harsher months.
When it is the colder time of year, we have a greater need for thyroid hormones to produce the extra heat and energy that we need to feel well and it is for this reason, that some thyroid patients find they actually need to slightly more thyroid medication in the cold months or when they go on holiday to a colder country, with the guidance of a doctor adjusting their dosage of course. I definitely do not suggest you alter your meds on your own!
It may be due to this that some patients also experience more hypothyroidism symptoms in colder climates and at colder times of year. Brain fog, a drop in energy, muscle aches and pains etc. could all be a sign.
In simple terms, our body needs more thyroid hormone (present in thyroid medication) to keep us feeling well when it is colder, as the metabolism may need to work harder to generate adequate body heat and energy. Two things we often struggle with as hypothyroid patients!
Related Article: Signs Your Thyroid Medication May Need Adjusting
Talk To Your Doctor
It’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about this if you notice that you feel particularly worse in the colder months, and think you could do with a slight medication change to get through the harder time of year for your body.
You should aim to have your thyroid levels (the full panel) tested twice a year if possible; once in the warmer months and once in the cooler months, so your doctor can adjust your dose as soon as possible. You don’t want to be over or under medicated.
If you’re still feeling cold in summer when everyone else is stripping off the layers, you definitely need a full thyroid panel checking ASAP to check all levels.
Do you feel different in the colder months?
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Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology. She is well-recognised as a crucial contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her books include “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism”.