December may be long gone, but that doesn’t mean that winter is over. And where there is winter, there is cold weather (for some more than others). Regardless of how harsh your city’s winter weather is, it can still affect your thyroid. There is actually a connection between thyroid function and the weather and this is due to the fact that the thyroid is the body’s temperature regulator, also known as thermoregulation.
If you are hypothyroid, you know that your body is not producing, converting or transporting enough of the thyroid hormone, but during the cold months that could become ten times worse. In the winter the body is cold and needs to raise its temperature which means the thyroid will have to work much harder. If you’re already in a hypothyroid state, your thyroid is going to have a hard time dealing with the extra work load. That could result in increased and more severe symptoms.
Worsening symptoms aren’t the only things that you need to be aware of. According to a recent study1 living in colder climates can raise the risk of thyroid cancer. One area in particular that has a larger risk factor is Alaska. The risk for thyroid cancer in that area is actually doubled compared to a warmer area like Texas. The study came to this conclusion by looking at the relationship between state temperature and the rate of thyroid cancer.
Now if you have hypothyroidism and live in one of these colder regions, we’re not suggesting that you move far away, but there are a few things that you may want to consider doing when the temperature begins to drop. First, this is probably a good time to get your thyroid levels checked and talk with your doctor about a seasonal increase in your thyroid medication. It could relieve the symptoms and keep your levels stable or maybe even increase your levels to a higher normal range.
Another thing you’ll want to do is reduce your stress level. True, you shouldn’t only do this during the cold months, but if your thyroid is already out of whack, why make it any worse? We understand that stress can come from anywhere including work and home life and how are you supposed to avoid those? No, we are not suggesting you quit your job or become a hermit, but we are suggesting taking up a stress-free, relaxing hobby. Many people find relaxation in exercise whether it’s walking or even yoga, but if that’s not you, try writing in a journal or taking up knitting or maybe even cooking.
Remember that your thyroid is working overtime when you are out there enjoying the snow with your family and friends. So try to give it a break sometimes and give back to it by doing one of the above suggested activities and let us know if you have any other great stress-free hobbies that you’d like to share with others.