My Thyroid and Me Chapter 4
Hiya welcome to chapter 4; I have touched upon the effects alcohol and caffeine has on someone with hypothyroidism so in this chapter I will be exploring this in more depth.
Alcohol is one of the commonest illicit psychoactive substances consumed globally, It has been reported to have multiple effects on the hypothalamo-pituitary-thyroid axis and the functioning of the thyroid gland. It has been reported to cause direct suppression of thyroid function by cellular toxicity, and indirect suppression by blunting thyrotropin-releasing hormone response.
Issues in the liver often compound with frequent alcohol consumption. Alcohol abuse would severely impact the liver’s ability to filter and expel toxins from the body. Moreover, it would exacerbate the breakdown of both T4 and alcohol in the liver.
In other words, if a person is already suffering from thyroid issues, alcohol abuse can cause T3 levels to plummet. Then, when the body isn’t producing enough of this hormone, it could result in hypothyroidism and a slew of uncomfortable symptoms.
It’s important to note that many medications for thyroid problems require a healthy liver. Methimazole, for example, is a medication that requires regular liver filtration to treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. So, any time the liver is strained, the medication becomes less effective.
Consuming alcohol can drastically affect how your thyroid functions — such as blocking its activity, or lowering levels of hormones T3 and T4.
Alcohol is also known to destroy thyroid cells, which are sometimes used in treatment of a condition called thyroid nodules . Over time consuming alcohol can reduce the size of the thyroid, thought it initially enlarges it. This means the thyroid gland is left with fewer cells to produce T4 and T3.
If you're fighting fatigue from hypothyroidism, it’s easy to slip into a cycle of drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks during the day and then having a nightcap to bring you back down. Although caffeine can sometimes give you a short-term lift, such as feeling perkier in the morning, it won't address long-term fatigue. What's worse, this cycle of caffeine to wind up and alcohol to wind down could be sapping your energy beyond the fatigue caused by hypothyroidism. Both alcohol and caffeine interfere with your body's ability to get into a deep, restorative level of sleep. Stick to only one or two caffeinated drinks before noon, and have just one alcoholic drink, if any, early in the evening.
Many people want to drink a cup of coffee before heading to work or getting the day started. But if you do so before or within an hour after taking your levothyroxine (L-T4), you may experience reduced absorption of the drug, which makes it less effective. In the case of coffee, drinking some too close to when you take your medication can cause you to have fluctuating thyroid hormone levels and symptoms, as well as difficulties with adjusting your dose of L-T4.1
Studies have found that drinking coffee at the same time or shortly after taking your L-T4 tablets can significantly lower the absorption of the thyroid medication in your intestines.1
The caffeine in coffee is believed to be the cause of this effect. Caffeine can produce an increase in intestinal motility, or intestinal movement.2 It may also induce an increase in the amount of fluid that flows from your body into your intestines, which results in loose stools. Both of these can make your oral medication pass through your intestines rapidly. In fact, some of the medication may leave your body in the stool before it has a chance to become absorbed into your system.
With lower absorption, the medicine will have less of the intended effect, which increases your risk of experiencing the symptoms of hypothyroidism.