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How Your Thyroid Affects Your Weight Loss

It sometimes sounds like a cop out when heavy people blame their weight problem on their glands, but in many cases it's actually true!

The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your throat, regulates many bodily functions, including metabolism.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones. This deficiency can cause a number of symptoms, including weight gain.

Your Thyroid and Your Weight

The thyroid is a specialized gland that takes iodine from the foods you eat and converts it into hormones.

These hormones are released into the bloodstream, where they stimulate your metabolism. The hormones tell every cell in your body to convert oxygen and calories into usable energy.

When your thyroid doesn't produce enough of these hormones, your metabolism becomes slow and inefficient. Calories stop being converted to energy and get stored as excess fat.

Hypothyroidism is a known cause of obesity. It can also cause depression and body pain which make it even harder to stick to a fitness routine. With all these factors working against someone, it's easy to see how a sluggish thyroid can lead to weight gain.

Some hypothyroid individuals report weight gains even though they consume only 900 calories a day! Others continue to gain weight even though they eat healthily and run more than three miles a day.

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Since the symptoms of hypothyroidism seem unrelated, it rarely occurs to people that one gland could hold the key to their weight problem.

Shockingly, experts report that half of the cases of hypothyroidism go undetected. For every patient who receives a diagnosis and a prescription for synthetic hormones, another person struggles with mysterious weight gain, aching joints, and exhaustion.

Do you Have Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism strikes women more often than men. Women over the age of 50 are especially susceptible. Ladies, don't assume your metabolism is slowing due to age; it is estimated that 10% of all women might suffer from some level of thyroid deficiency.

Ask your doctor for a thyroid screening if you notice any of the following symptoms:

- Fatigue
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Joint pain 
- Dry skin 
- Brittle hair and nails
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Constipation
- High cholesterol
- Depression

These symptoms often emerge over the course of months or years. If you notice some of these problems becoming gradually worse, get a thyroid test just to be on the safe side. Even if you qualify as a borderline case, the condition could worsen over time.

Hypothyroidism is most commonly treated with the synthetic hormone Levothyroxine. Your doctor will discuss all available treatment options with you after your diagnosis.

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Hyperthyroidism

80% of all thyroid problems fall into the hypothyroid category. The remaining 20% of patients suffer from hyperthyroidism. At first glance, this seems like the preferable condition to have, since it causes weight loss instead of gain.

But hyperthyroidism comes with a bundle of other nasty symptoms, including:

- Heart palpitations
- Nervousness
- Hair loss
- Fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Heat intolerance
- Insomnia
- Breathlessness

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces excess hormones. This over-stimulates the metabolism, making the patient feel tired, anxious, hot, and shaky.

This condition can be treated with drug therapy, radiation, or surgical removal of part of the thyroid gland.

What Causes Thyroid Malfunctions?

Most thyroid disease is caused by trauma to the thyroid gland. Common causes include injury, previous surgeries, and past radiation treatments.

Sometimes our bodies attack our thyroid gland due to an autoimmune response. If too many thyroid cells are damaged or destroyed, a decrease in hormone production can occur.

There is a strong link between your weight and the efficiency of your thyroid gland.

If you suspect that your thyroid isn't producing an adequate amount of hormones, ask your doctor for the simple blood test that can get you on track for diagnosis and treatment.

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