Low thyroid and low blood pressure — health risks and management
People have good reason to worry about high blood pressure as it puts you at risk for a number of diseases. However, low blood pressure also has health risks and problems — it can impair brain function and increase your mortality risk.
What is low blood pressure? If the upper or lower number deviates by more than 10 from 120/80, which is considered healthy blood pressure, low blood pressure may be causing health symptoms.
If you are not managing your Hashimoto's low thyroid with functional medicine, low blood pressure may be exacerbating problems with poor blood flow and oxygenation.
What is blood pressure? Blood pressure is required to push blood through 100,000 miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries that carry oxygen, nutrients, immune cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and other vital compounds to tissues throughout your body.
If blood pressure is too high, this strains blood vessels. But if it's too low, this means not enough blood is reaching capillaries and tissues, particularly in your hands, feet, and brain. These tissues are thus deprived of sufficient oxygen and nutrients. People with this problems may suffer from chronic nail fungal infections and cold hands and feet.
Adrenal fatigue causes low blood pressure
In functional medicine, we see adrenal fatigue as the most common cause of low blood pressure.
The adrenal glands are about the size of a walnut and one sits on top of each kidney. In addition to manufacturing stress hormones, they also help regulate blood pressure. Many people these days have adrenal fatigue from chronic stress.
Chronic stress isn't just about feeling overwhelmed. Other sources of stress to the body are poor diets, low blood sugar, chronic infections, gut problems, inflammation, and autoimmunity such as Hashimot's low thyroid.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include always tired, low blood sugar, get lightheaded or irritable between meals, chronically sick, and low blood pressure.
People with Hashimoto's low thyroid often suffer from adrenal fatigue.
Orthostatic hypotension — feeling faint when you stand up
Orthostatic hypotension is a type of low blood pressure that is not uncommon. It causes lightheadedness or a sense of feeling faint when stand up. It happens because the blood pools in the legs upon standing and doesn't get back to the heart and head fast enough. A doctor will diagnose you with orthostatic hypotension when the top number of your blood pressure goes below 20 points and the bottom number below 10 upon standing.
Although orthostatic hypotension means you need to manage low blood pressure, it is also dangerous if it makes you faint or fall. This is especially true for older people.
Orthostatic hypotension frequently occurs in those with low blood pressure and low blood sugar, however, people with high blood pressure can have it too.
Functional medicine strategies for low blood pressure
If you have low blood pressure and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, consider an adrenal saliva test. This test measures cortisol levels throughout the day — cortisol is your primary adrenal hormone. The results let you better target your therapy and doing a second and third test tell you if your protocol is working.
Although people with high blood pressure should avoid salt, quality sea salt can help help raise overly low blood pressure. In fact, many people with low blood pressure find they crave salt.
A nutritional ingredient that can raise low blood pressure is licorice root extract, also called glycyrrhiza. It extends the life of cortisol, which can help improve blood volume, electrolyte balance, and blood pressure.
However, the most important thing is to address the cause of adrenal fatigue as it is always secondary to something else.
One of the most common causes of adrenal fatigue is low blood sugar or blood sugar instability caused by eating too many sweets and starches, skipping meals, or under eating. Eating a healthy breakfast, avoiding sweets and sweet drinks, reducing starchy foods, and eating regularly enough to sustain blood sugar are helpful strategies.
These are also important strategies to help better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Hashimoto's low thyroid and low blood pressure
Hashimoto's is an autoimmune thyroid disease that causes low thyroid symptoms. Functional medicine addresses thyroid function, immune health, and inflammation and autoimmune attacks on the thyroid. Managing these factors is an additional way to support adrenal fatigue and low blood pressure.
For more advice on addressing low thyroid function, adrenal function, and blood pressure, contact my office.
One of the main goals at RedRiver Health and Wellness Center is to work with patients to improve their health, wellbeing, and quality of life. The RedRiver Health and Wellness Center team is passionate about helping ailing patients achieve optimal health, and we truly care about the success of each and every patient.
RedRiver chiropractic physicians are great advocates for prescribing physicians and endocrinologists. In fact, many of our patients see their prescribing physician(s) more frequently while under our care than they would otherwise. Our goal is not to replace our patients’ primary care physicians and specialists, but to complement their care by providing patients with nutrition, diet, lifestyle and educational support and strategies. This way, patients can learn to manage their symptoms more efficiently. We have developed rewarding relationships with many prescribing physicians across the country, and we strive to continue to building relationships with MDs, DOs, NPs, and NMDs. When health professionals can work together for the benefit of the patient’s health, it becomes a win/win situation for the one who matters most—the patient.