Thyroid Issues and Weight Gain: What Can You Do?

April 11, 2012

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thyroid and weightIf you often feel tired and sluggish and are experiencing symptoms such as dry skin, hair loss, low libido, and melancholy, you could have a thyroid issue that’s contributing to your weight struggle. While these same symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions, a simple blood test monitoring your thyroid function can help your doctor sort out the cause.

Your thyroid gland is an essential part of regulating all types of bodily functions including hormone levels, metabolism, heart rate, gastrointestinal (or GI) tract function, energy levels, and more. An underactive thyroid gland is referred to as “hypothyroidism,” while an overly active one is termed “hyperthyroidism.” If you do have a slow (or less commonly, fast) thyroid, chances are you’ll need to take medication to help regulate your thyroid for life.

At The Center for Medical Weight Loss, we often find patients may have a sluggish or slow thyroid. While it is not always in the “abnormal” range, it is often just outside of that and, in both cases, replacement hormones can help.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “thyroid diet,” and correcting thyroid balances alone will not lead to weight loss. These hormones are not “weight loss drugs” by any means and, if not taken at the proper dose, can cause heartbeat irregularities and other health problems.  They’re not something you want to buy off the Internet.

The most common cause of a slow thyroid is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s disease.  When you have Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. The resulting inflammation often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It primarily affects middle-aged women, but also can occur in men and women of any age and in children.

If you suspect your thyroid may be playing a role in your weight issues, have your doctor test your thyroid levels. Then talk with a physician trained in medically supervised weight loss to understand how managing your thyroid might fit into the overall picture of your weight battle.

Remember, weight problems rarely have a single, simple cause. But with the help of a trained professional, you can sort out your personal weight loss puzzle, lose excess weight, and enjoy better health.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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