Thyroid UK
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Myxedema - does exercise and diet help?

Hi, I was diagnosed with myxoedema 2 weeks ago. Since then I have been coming to terms with the fact that I have to take medication for the rest of my life. The one thing I have really noticed however, is how much of a struggle everyday life is. Sometimes I sit there and think, wow, I can't even get up from the sofa. Is this normal? I am also wondering if there are other things that I can do to try and increase my energy such as exercise and changing my diet? Does anyone know of anything that has helped them?

8 Replies

It's perfectly normal to be tired when you are hypo. And if you've only been taking the Levo - I presume they've put you on Levo? - for two weeks, you can't expect any changes yet. It takes six weeks for your body to start using the the Levo - did they tell you to go back for a test in six weeks? You will probably need several increases in dose at six week intervals before you get back to your old self. Oh, and Levo (T4) is not 'medication' in the strict sense of the word, it is thyroid hormone replacment, and it really is no big deal swallowing the pill every day - it's better than the alternative!

There is not much more you can do at the moment, to help yourself, except make sure that you are well nourished - plenty of protein and fat - yes, fat - fresh fruit and veg, some carbs, and Don't skimp on the salt! Take your Levo one hour before eating or drinking anything except water, or two hours after eating; 2 hours away from other medication and suppléments; and four hours away from iron, calcium and estrogen.

However, hypos often have problems with absorption, due to low stomach acid. So, what is advisable to do is get your vit D, vit B12, folate, iron and ferritin tested. All these need to be at least mid-range for your body to be able to use the hormone you're giving it. And B12 is optimal at 1000. Once you have the results, post them on here and we'll be able to advise you on supplementing. If you Don't already, it's always a good idea to get a copy of your blood test results - with the ranges - so that you can take charge of your own health. You are legally entitled to have them.

And talking of blood tests, when you go for your next thyroid test, makes sure it's early in the morning - 8 or 9ish - Don't take your Levo for 24 hours before the test - take it after the test - and Don't eat before the test, just drink water. That way you will get the best TSH result.

As for exercise, it's really not recommended at the stage you're at. Just a little walking and some swimming, nothing strenous or you could make yourself worse. When you are optimally treated, then you can think about things like going to the gym! But Don't forget, everything you do is 'exercise' - housework, shopping, gardening - even breathing! It all uses up calories. But you Don't want to use up too many at the moment. :)

The only thing that has helped me - have energy, lose weight, brighten my mood, etc - is to optimise my T3 levels - not exercise, not diet, not 'happy pills' - just good old T3. Without decent levels of T3, nothing is going to be right.


Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive reply. I can see where you are coming from with taking the pill everyday, I just think it was a bit of a shock because I didn't even realise that I was being tested for that.

I have another blood test in 4 weeks or so so should be able to see it the levothyroxine needs to be increased.

It's so good to talk to people who have been living with this for so long as it gives me a real idea of what to expect. I can't wait to start feeling well again!

1 like

I can understand how you feel. For me, though, my diagnosis was a blessed relief! My main symptom was weight-gain - you could almost see me swelling! - and my doctor thought I was a huge, lying hog! I was so relieved to be vindicated! But, then, I saw an endo, who told me she was testing for it, and she thought I had it, so it was no surprise.

All that was 15 years ago - but I think I've been hypo all my life. And since then, I've had a checkered career, to say the least! lol So, I totally get it.

But, we're all different, so your journey will probably be totally different to mine. Don't be discouraged by scare-stories, or disappointed if you Don't react as quickly as someone else. Just keep plodding on your path and you'll get there in the end. :)


I have to say, it's such a relief to know there is a reason I don't have energy or feel like I have to struggle to just get through the day.

I have to say, I do gain weight really easily. If I stick to a diet I can lose weight but the effort seems so much at the moment. I hope that once my hormone levels are balanced, then I will start to lose weight.


I'm sure you will. Just concentrate on nutrients, and forget the calories. A calories restricted diet is the last thing you need at the moment, because your weight-gain isn't due to what you eat, it's due to your low metabalism, due to being hypo.


Hi rosy, I wish I knew then what I know now. There a many, many things you can do especially with diet and stress relief. This man has a lot of videos on youtube but I am certain he is correct that your glands are doing what it takes for you to survive. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the gland. It is responding correctly to what is being inflicted on it. I urge you to take a look since you may be at a crossroads.

This functional medicine doctor also shows what all is involved.


Unfortunately he didn't say that protein really helps stabilize blood sugar, and a specific amino acid from protein (tryptophan) is what the body uses to make serotonin. If you don't digest protein well (e.g. you had celiac enteropathy - my problem), use tryptophan/5-HTP, or a blend of free essential amino acids.


Hi rosyposy,

My own experience has been that gentle stretching exercise helps. I do Yoga and the breathing and relaxation along with gentle stretching is good for me. Others find swimming is helpful. Some people try a gluten free diet which seems to help those with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. The best thing with diet in general is to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and meat and fish, rather than precooked and instant meals. Hope you find things that will help you. Good wishes MariLiz


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