The 7 Habits of Successful Thyroid Patients
If you're a successful thyroid patient, you have control over your condition, and your symptoms and side effects don't get in the way of a healthy, happy life. What does it take to be successful as a thyroid patient? Here are seven habits that can help you not only survive but thrive, and truly live well with your thyroid condition.
1. You are informed, knowledgeable, and organized
Being a successful thyroid patient means that you are well-informed about your condition and committed to being your own thyroid advocate. You understand your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment options, what your blood test results mean, and the medications you take. You read books, medical research, and websites, and follow reputable information on social media. And, you keep your paperwork and records organized, and track your blood test results.
2. You know that you're the CEO of your health
Today's healthcare system can feel like a revolving door, where you're lucky to get seven minutes with your doctor. Also, with general practitioners, endocrinologists, gynecologists, and other healthcare providers, you know it's up to you to coordinate them. To that end, you recognize that you are the CEO of your health. No one else will manage the big picture of your healthcare. So, it's up to you to get everyone on the same page, working as a team to help you live well.
3. You take your medication consistently and properly
It seems obvious, but success means that you take your prescribed medications consistently and properly. You ensure that you have the correct prescriptions on hand, and remember to take your medication at the proper dose, at scheduled times each day.
You also avoid interactions that can make your drugs less effective. For example, food, coffee, milk, fiber, calcium, and iron supplements are just a few of the things that can interfere with your thyroid hormone replacement medication for hypothyroidism.
4. You have partnerships with great healthcare providers
If you are a successful thyroid patient, you partner with great healthcare providers. Finding top-notch thyroid doctors and healthcare providers requires effort, in the form of research, and in some cases, trial and error, until you find experts who are a good match for your situation.
And if you need thyroid surgery, you are especially selective in choosing an experienced thyroid surgeon. After all, experienced thyroid surgeons have far lower complication rates and better outcomes.
5. You push for optimal treatment
As a successful patient, if you’re hypothyroid and your thyroid levels fall within the reference range, but you still have symptoms, you don’t settle. You seek treatment options that could optimize your treatment and potentially resolve your symptoms better than levothyroxine-only therapy.
If you have Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism, you know that antithyroid drugs may be optimal, versus permanently ablating your thyroid with radioactive iodine.
5. You push for optimal treatment (continued)
As a successful thyroid patient, you know that your thyroid nodules may be optimally treated with cutting-edge approaches like percutaneous ethanol injection or laser ablation.
You also know that indeterminate nodules usually do not require thyroid surgery. If you have small, slow-growing papillary thyroid cancer, you know that not all thyroid cancer should be treated and active surveillance may be the optimal treatment.
6. You are careful about what you put in and on your body
As a successful thyroid patient, you recognize the impact of foods and toxins. To that end:
- You are careful about overconsuming soy and raw cruciferous vegetables (goitrogens)
- You are careful about — or even cut out — gluten
- You minimize or eliminate sugar, processed foods, hormones, and pesticides from your diet
- You are careful to take thyroid hormone replacement medication apart from coffee or milk
- You pay attention to which foods are good for thyroid patients, and which foods are not
6. You are careful about what you put in and on your body (continued)
As a successful thyroid patient, you are aware of household and beauty products that can harm your thyroid, hormones, or immune system, and you take care to avoid them.
For example, you eliminate — and find alternatives for — triclosan in toothpaste, bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastic water bottles, phthalate-contaminated plastic shower curtains, non-stick Teflon pans, stain-resistant fabrics, and other thyroid-damaging toxins.
7. You're open-minded but not gullible
As a successful thyroid patient, you recognize that legitimate findings regarding complementary approaches such as nutrition and vitamins may offer solutions that are valid and effective, even if not espoused by conventional medicine.
At the same time, you're not susceptible to marketing pitches and hyped-up promises of a "miraculous thyroid cure" used to sell supplements, ebooks, videos, or unproven and overpriced "treatment" programs.
Being a successful thyroid patient
In the end, as a successful thyroid patient, you know it's a juggling act that requires you to balance knowledge, confidence, empowerment, and discernment with the belief that you deserve optimal treatment - supported by a constructive partnership with your healthcare providers. You know it takes time and commitment, but it's worth it. Here's to your success!