Travelling with Hypothyroidism

In November 2015 I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition where the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, no longer functions properly. In my case, it no longer functions at all. A combination of bad genes, Hashimotos disease and low iron levels combined to effectively render my thyroid gland useless. Luckily my doctors were able to stop this from affecting my adrenal glands too.

What that means is my thyroid no longer produces the hormone thyroxin which disrupts my heart rate, body temperature and metabolism. My body no longer absorbs energy from food, I’m constantly fatigued and cold and my hair falls out – a lot!

Aurora over the harbour in Reykjavik

Managing it on a day to day basis is something I’ve had to get used to. I still have days when I can’t cope and I end up missing the day at work and staying in bed, but I’m slowly getting better. Travelling with hypothyroidism is a whole different ball game and something I’m still learning how to manage.

The first holiday we took after I was diagnosed was to Singapore where we spent a week over New Year. The flight wasn’t long so the jetlag on top of the extreme fatigue I suffer from thanks to the hypothyroidism wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. It wasn’t until our two week trip to Iceland in late 2016 that I really struggled with exhaustion. We were up early every morning, busy being adventurous during the day and up late at night watching the aurora. It was enough to ware any traveller out!

Riding an Icelandic horse

Here are some of the tips I’ve picked up for travelling with hypothyroidism

  • Book a hotel with a mini bar
    There were times in Iceland when we didn’t have a fridge to store my hormone tablets. The tablets I take can be unrefrigerated for several days but if you’re planning a longer trip, it’s best to double check that there is a fridge to keep the medication in.
  • Get enough sleep
    I try to squeeze in naps back at the hotel whenever I can. I don’t like sleeping on buses because I don’t want to miss out on the scenery, but if we’re close to the hotel and we can, I’ll go back for a nap. Keeping a regular sleep schedule helped me a lot in Japan. I’d be in bed by 10pm and awake by 8am. I was still tired but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Climbing craters in Snaefellsness
  • Eat well
    I find that keeping my diet consistent helps me immensely when I travel. I don’t have to stick to the same foods every day, but avoiding foods high in fats and vegetables like broccoli and cabbage which are known to block thyroxin, helps me feel better. I also try to drink less coffee so it doesn’t interfere with my sleep.
  • Manage the anxiety
    For me, the anxiety I suffer from is what really makes me tired. Keeping this under check helps me manage the rest! I have a psychologist I speak to about managing this when I travel and it’s helped me more than I could have imagined.

Do you struggle with anything when you travel? Let me know in the comments below!


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