This past weekend I had a friend approach me about recent weight gain that she’s been experiencing due to hypothyroidism. It is not an uncommon symptom of having hypothyroidism, or even experience the opposite effect with hyperthyroidism. It is estimated that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from one of the various thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Women are four times more likely to have a thyroid condition that a man and people of all ages can be affected by thyroid conditions including children, teens, and adults.
Things to Know About the Thyroid
Located in the lower portion of the neck, the thyroid is a gland that works to regulate the metabolism. It is considered part of the endocrine system, and it has a direct impact on every single cell inside the body. People that have a thyroid which is not working properly can suffer from a full range of symptoms.
People with hypothyroid may experience weight gain, a slower heart rate, and pain in their joints. While people suffering from a hyperthyroid may notice weight loss, difficulty sleeping, and increased anxiety.
Hypothyroidism and It’s Causes
A thyroid that is not producing enough of the hormones TS3 and TS4 is said to be underactive. This state of being underactive is called hypothyroidism. Having a thyroid that isn’t producing enough hormones can lead to a decreased metabolism as well as many other issues within the body. It can have an effect on the heart, breathing, and brain functions.
There are a number of issues that can lead to an underactive thyroid, including autoimmune issues and particular medication. Here is a list of some of the common issues that can lead to hypothyroidism:
- Autoimmune Disorders: The most common cause of an underactive thyroid is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Autoimmune disorders cause your body’s own immune system to attach the organs and healthy tissues inside your body. The thyroid is affected in someone with Hashimoto’s.
- Hyperthyroidism Treatment: When a person has an overactive thyroid, that is called hyperthyroidism. Some people over-respond to hyperthyroid treatments which can lead to hypothyroidism.
- Thyroid Surgery: If a person has to have a portion of or all of their thyroid removed due to other issues, such as cancer, it can lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Medications: Some medications, like lithium which is used to treat psychiatric disorders, can cause hypothyroidism.
- Iodine deficiency: Iodine is a trace mineral that is found in seaweed, seafood, and iodized salt, and it is necessary for the thyroid to function properly. Those with an iodine deficiency may suffer from hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism and Its Causes
A thyroid that is producing too much of the hormones TS3 and TS4 is said to be overactive. This state of being overactive is called hyperthyroidism. This issue can cause the body to have a metabolism that is too high and can lead to unintended weight loss. It can also affect the heart and raise the pulse rate.
Those suffering from hyperactive thyroid will notice an impact on many of the systems within the body. Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a number of issues including:
- Graves’ Disease: This is another autoimmune disorder in which the body produces too much T4, and it is the most common cause of an overactive thyroid.
- Thyroiditis: For some women, the thyroid becomes inflamed after pregnancy. This can be due to an autoimmune disorder, but it sometimes happens for no known cause.
Risk Factors for Thyroid Issues
While anyone can develop thyroid issues, there are a few risk factors that may make certain swathes of the population more susceptible. Anyone with a family history of thyroid issues or autoimmune disorders like Graves’ or Hashimoto’s are at higher risk. Also, being female is an additional risk, and having a history of type 1 diabetes or primary adrenal insufficiency can also be a risk factor.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that concern you, then it is a good idea to make an appointment with your health care provider. Only your doctor can diagnose a thyroid issue, and it is always better to start treatment sooner rather than later.
Medical Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always follow the advice of your physician, and never delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on this website