Most people firmly believe that weight is controlled and only affected by calories in versus calories out. However, since the body is a complex machine, there's often much more to the equation. Other pertinent factors include the way your body heals itself after an injury an illness, as well as the many hormones your body produces, with the thyroid gland and thyroid hormones being a common cause of weight gain.
Here are some interesting facts related to how your thyroid controls weight gain:
What is the thyroid gland?
According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health): "the thyroid (Latin: glandula thyreoidea) is a vitally important hormonal gland that plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and maturation of the human body". It's shaped like a butterfly and is located in the front part of the neck, right below the larynx (voice box). It continuously releases a steady amount of hormones into the bloodstream, thereby regulating many body functions. These hormones are commonly known as T3 and T4. When functioning optimally, the thyroid produces only the amount of hormones your body needs. For example, more hormones are needed when someone is growing, if they're cold, or during pregnancy. Unfortunately, as we know, many body processes go wrong, and thyroid function is included. One of the conditions that affects the thyroid and can cause weight gain is hypothyroidism, which often happens in the form of Hashimoto's disease.
What is hypothyroidism?
The Mayo Clinic states: "hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain important hormones". T3 and T4 affect all aspects of your metabolism, including weight. "When your thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones, the balance of chemical reactions in your body can be upset." In its early stages, someone suffering from this illness probably won't notice any symptoms. But later on it can cause major problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility, and heart disease. Symptoms are, unfortunately, ignored or undiagnosed for a few of years, since they develop so slowly and can often be confused with normal aspects of aging.
Hashimoto's disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. It can affect both genders at any age, but primarily affects middle-aged women. An autoimmune disorder, Hashimoto's disease is a condition that occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid. The NIH states: "an autoimmune disorder occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune disorders". When your immune system attacks your thyroid, it can cause inflammation which, in turn, leads to your thyroid gland becoming underactive (hypothyroidism).
When to be concerned and get more information from your doctor
you notice a lump or enlargement in the lower front area of your neck
you have high cholesterol that doesn't respond to diet, exercise, and medication
you feel sluggish, have unexplained weight gain, and mood changes
you notice hoarseness or a feeling of constriction in your throat
your hair starts thinning or your skin becomes dry
you have other symptoms that concern you, including: forgetfulness or cognitive impairment; sore muscles; joint pain, swelling, or stiffness
women older than 60 years of age
those who already have an autoimmune disease
people who have a family history of thyroid disease
people who have had a partial thyroidectomy in the past
women who have been pregnant or had a baby within the past 6 months
those who have received radiation to the neck or upper chest areas
Contact us for more information about how your thyroid can affect your weight and how it can affect many other body functions.