Your thyroid could be thwarting your plans to lose weight. "My thy-what?" you say. Yes, your thyroid. The butterfly-shaped gland in your lower neck could be holding you back, and it could be impacting more than just your weight loss journey. Here's why you should pay attention to your thyroid gland, and what you can do to keep it healthy.
The boss of your metabolism
The thyroid gland is so important that the month of January is dedicated to Thyroid Awareness. This gland is a powerhouse and mastermind of hormone regulation for your body. It regulates your metabolism, heart rate and body temperature, which, of course, can affect your weight and your plans to get healthy.
You already know your hormones are responsible for much of how your body is feeling, both mentally and physically, so if you’re feeling, well, a bit off, your thyroid gland might be to blame. Symptoms of thyroid disease vary, depending on whether you have an underactive (hypothyroid) or overactive (hyperthyroid) thyroid.
Your thyroid might be kicked into overdrive if you feel nervous or irritable, have a racing heart, and can't sleep. But if you're having trouble shedding pounds even though you are eating healthy and working out, are always severely tired, and feel depressed, it's possible that your thyroid is not helping you out enough. And either way, it might be time to get it checked by a doctor.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Changes
Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder that causes people to have an underactive thyroid gland. With hypothyroidism the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones to keep the body running as it should. When someone doesn't have the correct levels of thyroid hormone in their blood, their body will start to slow down.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- Feeling cold
- Tire more easily
- Dry skin
- Forgetful and depressed
In addition to the symptoms above, hypothyroidism can also cause weight gain.
Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed by these symptoms or by taking a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test. This test measures how much thyroid hormones the thyroid gland is being called to make. If the thyroid gland seems like it’s being asked to make more than usual, it is a clear sign of hypothyroidism. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have a history of hypothyroidism in your family, be sure to get checked by your doctor to receive proper treatment.
Hyperthyroidism and Weight
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland produces too many hormones which rapidly speeds up your metabolism causing weight loss, irregular heartbeat, and nervousness.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:
- Sudden weight loss
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased appetite
Hyperthyroidism runs in families and is typically seen in women more than men. It’s important to see a doctor if you experience unexplained weight loss or any other of the above symptoms because they may be related to other conditions as well.
Get your thyroid on track
It’s estimated that 27 million Americans have a thyroid condition, and 13 million of them are still undiagnosed. Additionally, women are seven times more likely than men to develop problems with the thyroid gland, and your risk increases with age. A doctor usually performs a simple blood test to determine if your thyroid gland is either underperforming or going above and beyond its call of duty. Treatment for an overactive or underactive thyroid gland varies per person.
Always consult your doctor if you have concerns about your thyroid causing weight gain, loss, or even overall health. As you know, being well-informed is the first step to a healthier you.