Hypothyroidism and How It Affects Your Weight

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Your weight may be driving you batty. Some days, you feel lighter than cotton and other days, you feel like you’ve gone to town on cakes and fried food. So stepping on the scale is rarely a moment of peace. But what if your weight changes aren’t just tied to food and exercise?

A butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in your neck could be responsible for your weight loss or gain.

Hypothyroidism: The Weight Connection

The thyroid makes hormones that your body uses for energy, to keep warm, and to ensure that your muscles, heart, and brain work as they should. And it also maintains your metabolism.

If your thyroid is overactive, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) rises boosting the calories your body requires to maintain weight. If you don’t receive enough calories in your diet to equal the ones you burn, you lose weight. This is hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is associated with an underactive thyroid, which decreases your BMR, leading to weight gain. Depending on how severe your condition is, hypothyroidism may only cause 5 to 10 pounds of increase in weight. So if you’re gaining more, an underactive thyroid is not likely the only reason behind it. It’s crucial to get proper diagnosis to follow the right kind of treatment

A standard treatment to hypothyroidism would involve oral medication to restore hormone levels and treat the symptoms. Other than weight gain, symptoms include fatigue, feeling cold all the time, joint and muscle pain, among others. Your doctor may also prescribe a change in your diet.

Information on hypothyroidism reveals that much of the weight is gained due to water and salt, and not fat accumulation. So losing the excess weight could be as simple as following these steps:

  • Eat small but frequent meals instead a couple large ones since hypothyroidism slows down digestion
  • Eliminate processed sugar and simple carbs because they increase inflammation
  • Eat more leafy greens, fatty fish, and olive oil to fight inflammation
  • Exercise to burn calories

So what has prompted your thyroid to fail in its function?

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

Checking blood sample

Hypothyroidism could be the result of taking certain medicines, like lithium (treatment for psychiatric condition) and interferon alpha (treatment for chronic hepatitis C), which may interfere with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones normally.

Radiation therapy could also cause hypothyroidism. Those with Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the head or neck, may lose part or all of their thyroid function during treatment.

Autoimmune diseases may also lead to hypothyroidism. The most common cause may be Hashimoto’s disease, which attacks your thyroid.

Clearly, people with certain conditions are more at risk for hypothyroidism. Other than particular health issues, risk factors for an underactive thyroid include people:

  • Who are over 60 years old
  • Who are women
  • Who were pregnant or gave birth in the last six months
  • With a history of thyroid disease
  • With type 1 diabetes

Without proper diagnosis and treatment, hypothyroidism could cause more than just weight gain. It could cause myxedema coma, which slows down your body’s function, making a manageable condition life-threatening.

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