Trouble Losing Weight – Maybe It’s Your Thyroid

by Jennifer Boudreau on August 27, 2013

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3d rendered illustration of thelarnyx anatomyI’ve talked in the past about my frustration with tremendous exhaustion and my inability to lose weight after having our daughter almost four years ago. It eventually led to the diagnosis of hypothyroidism and I immediately began taking medication to treat it. Once my doctor figured out the right dosage, my condition quickly began to improve. Fortunately, the idea of a thyroid condition popped into my head because it runs in my family, which led me to make a call to the doctor in the first place. Unfortunately though, many never think to have their thyroid checked. I’ve read that potentially 50% of those who have a thyroid condition will go undiagnosed. The disease is very, very common, which is why I want to talk about it today.

First, you may be wondering what the heck the thyroid is.  Well, the thyroid is a large ductless gland in the neck that secretes hormones regulating growth and development through the rate of metabolism. Thyroid disease can result in an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) or an overactive one (hyperthyroidism). In summary, hypothyroidism slows bodily functions down while hyperthyroidism speeds them up. For the purpose of today’s blog, I’m going to focus on hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the most common version of thyroid disease and most prevalent in women.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism, according to Medical News Today:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Bloated face
  • Dry, pallid, flaky skin
  • Hoarse voice
  • Amplified sensitivity to cold
  • Frail fingernails and hair (eyebrows may become thinned)
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heavier than usual, or loss of, menstrual period
  • Swollen or stiff joints
  • Stiff, weak, painful muscle aches
  • Higher than usual blood cholesterol level

The reason why thyroid disease commonly goes undiagnosed is the symptoms can be typical of other disorders and often missed as a potential result of thyroid disease. As an example, there is a link between hypothyroidism and depression. It is not unusual for a doctor to prescribe an anti-depressant without doing additional blood work to detect the thyroid disease. If you’re depressed, ask your doctor to check your thyroid. Once your thyroid is under control, your depression may improve as well.

Ok, going back to the symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you have any of the above symptoms, call your doctor, especially if you have a family history of thyroid disease or autoimmune disease (diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.).  Your doctor will order a very simple TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) blood test.  They may run a few other tests as well, such as T3 (thyroid hormone triiodothyronine) or T4 (thyroid hormone thyroxine). My doctor runs TSH as well as T4. If you are found to have hypothyroidism, your doctor will most likely put you on the synthetic thyroid hormone,  levothyroxine. It may take some time to get your medication dosage just right, but hang in there. Once they find the dosage your body needs you will start to feel better. If you’re struggling with weight….it will most likely start to come off!

I also encourage you to visit HypothryoidMom. She has a vast collection of research for those of us who have hypothyroidism, including a list of 300 less common symptoms, such as infertility, fibromyalgia and mental disorders. Thyroid disease impacts every cell in the body, so do some research and see if your condition could be a result of this disease! Many of us are blessed with great doctors, but they can still miss things. It is our responsibility to work with our doctors to make sure they don’t miss something!

Comment below and tell me, do you have a thyroid condition?

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