Your thyroid is a very small gland that makes a big impact on your body. In fact, the function of this butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck can affect your heart, digestive system, muscle control, brain development, metabolism, mood and bone density. Therefore, when the thyroid is under or over active, it can produce major disruptions in your physical health and overall well-being.
The Issue of Weight
There are many factors that can cause weight gain in adults, most often including eating too much and exercising too little. However, the thyroid should not be overlooked. When the thyroid is underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormone, it is called hypothyroidism. Without a thyroid at full capacity, patients experience a decrease in energy metabolism, which we know results in weight gain for most people.
Who is At Risk?
Hypothyroidism is most likely to occur in women over the age of 50. However, there are other risk factors such as family history, autoimmune disorder (type 1 diabetes), previous thyroid removal and radiation therapy to the neck or upper chest.
Other Signs of Hypothyroidism
There are other ways to tell if your thyroid is not functioning properly. Hypothyroidism is identified with the following common symptoms:
- Weight Gain
- Cold Intolerance
- Dry Skin
- Muscle Aches
Getting the Right Diagnosis
Determining the cause of weight gain can be tricky, especially in a middle-aged woman who may be facing menopausal changes and a slowed metabolism due to age. However, ruling out the thyroid as a potential cause of those extra pounds is very simple. A blood test that measures the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is highly effective for evaluating the function of the thyroid as either hypoactive (under) or hyperactive (over).
If your TSH level indicates a poorly functioning thyroid, the treatment is just as easy. The majority of patients feel better fast by taking a thyroid hormone substitute. It is a small pill called levothyroxine that can replicate the hormones your body is failing to produce properly. In result, your body’s metabolic rate can be restored, which makes weight loss and weight management more attainable.
Are you experiencing weight gain as well as other symptoms of hypothyroidism? Schedule a thyroid screening at the office of Brent J. Michael, MD. Our Santa Monica clinic can diagnose and treat thyroid disorders in patients of all ages.