When one is discussing the various causes of weight gain, thyroid gland dysfunciton ought to pop up into the conversation. That is because the thyroid gland, which is shaped like a butterfly and is located right below the Adam’s apple, outputs crucial hormones that essentially regulate the body’s metabolism. And metabolism determines the rate at which a person can burn calories and thus has the ultimate effect on one’s weight. If something goes wrong with the thyroid, a person can endure intense weight problems that can lead to a slue of other serious medical conditions.
Often thyroid disorders have subtle symptoms that only appear gradually and as a result, they are typically misdiagnosed. Someone may be struggling with obesity because their thyroid is dysfunctional and as a result, they have a severe energy imbalance they can’t control. However, a doctor may not catch this and simply expect that if he or she works out more and eats less, weight loss will occur. But this is not the case if the patient’s thyroid gland is malfunctioning.
But what can cause such a pesky thyroid disorder? Sometimes, the body’s own immune system will attack the thyroid gland by mistake. If this happens to you, you may feel fatigued, cold, and constipated. Also, you may find your skin and hair extra dry, your menstrual periods extra heavy, your muscles to be sore, and your thinking abilities slowed. Other symptoms include depression, moodiness, memory loss, and even a decreased libido. Fortunately, there are hormone pills that a person suffering from this problem – called underactive thyroid – can take, and symptoms should clear up within a few months after initial treatment.
There is also an overactive thyroid disorder in which people actually lose weight and have excess energy that causes them to be jittery, feel hot, have fast heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, and shorter menstrual cycles. Overactive thyroid is a bit more challenging to cure, as many side effects can result from treatment.
A third thyroid problem are lumps – the majority of the time, they are perfectly innocuous and can be removed by a simple biopsy. But they can be cancerous and when they are, surgery is recommended.
When talking about the thyroid in relation to obesity, one is referring to an underactive thyroid, in which a victim will have a suspicious, uncontrollable weight gain as his or her body is not properly metabolizing food. The more clinical term for this disorder is “hypothyroidism.” Hypothyroidism simply means that too little of the thyroid hormone is being produced. Often, pregnant women suffer from it. But in general, over five million Americans have an underactive thyroid that puts them at an increased risk for obesity.
While hypothyroidism is hardly uncommon and is easy to treat, because it is often difficult to detect when symptoms first begin, it can be problematic. In fact, it is believed that the estimate of five million hypothyroidism sufferers is actually a lot greater, as many are walking around with an underactive thyroid and aren’t even aware of it.
Hypothyroidism is caused by either an inflamed thyroid gland or sometimes, surprisingly, medical treatments prescribed for other thyroid problems. For example, if one has an overactive or enlarged thyroid gland, they may need a dose of radioactive iodine or surgery to detonate or remove a part of it, but a possible side effect is that the once overactive thyroid suddenly becomes underactive.
When a woman is pregnant, her hormones are changing on a daily basis. And a surprisingly common amount of women who either can’t get pregnant or who are pregnant suffer from a lack of that vital metabolism regulating thyroid hormone. A symptom of hypothyroidism is indeed infertility. And pregnant women who developed hypothyroidism after conception endure symptoms that are also characteristic of pregnancy, thus a blood test is the only way to determine if she is suffering from the problem.
Fortunately, there is nothing unsafe about taking a thyroid hormone during pregnancy in order to treat an underactive thyroid. In fact, women who have suffered from hypothyroidism before pregnancy will need an especially high dose of the hormone in their second phase of treatment as a pregnant woman. In fact, it is tremendously unsafe not to be treated for hypothyroidism when pregnant, as the disorder can lead to miscarriage and birth defects.
Moreover, thyroid inflammation affects one in every twenty women after pregnancy. When this happens, it is called postpartum thyroiditis. While the condition is virtually painless, it can lead to both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism down the road. Because women who have just given birth often have increased fatigue, nervousness, depression, or weight gain, thyroid problems can be especially difficult to diagnose. Fortunately, postpartum thyroiditis doesn’t last long and even if there are long lasting effects, they can be treated easily.
The great news about hypothyroidism is that it is easy to diagnose – only a blood test is needed! And not only that, but it is really easy to treat. So, many of those suffering from obesity can find a new peace of mind and a new, convenient solution to their weight problem with a simple hormone prescription that will get their metabolism back in shape.
A lot of people find that they can’t seem to lose those extra pounds no matter how hard they try. And their weight may actually be out of their hands if they have an underactive thyroid gland. What’s frustrating about hypothyroidism is that the symptoms are not obvious and can often be attributed to other medical conditions. But the more one knows about it, the more one can self-diagnose and thus encourage their physician to investigate the possibility that he or she has an underactive thyroid gland.