When Does Half an Ounce Equal a Pound?
Your thyroid is a small gland found at the front of your neck and weighs about half of an ounce. Despite its small size, a thyroid can cause big problems if it isn’t functioning properly. If your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones, you can start to see a rapid weight gain.
The thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland, which produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH, in turn, signals the thyroid to make several hormones that impact metabolism. The thyroid hormones determine calorie burn and heart rate, and influence body temperature, muscles, bones and even cholesterol. They also affect breathing and digestion. When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, your metabolism slows down, which means your body can’t burn food efficiently. If you have noticed that you are gaining weight and you haven’t changed a thing about your eating and/or exercising then you may have a problem with your thyroid.
The most common symptom of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is fatigue or sluggishness. Under the best circumstances, getting exercise can be challenging, but if you’re suffering from hypothyroidism, everyday activities can be very tiring. Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid are fatigue, weight gain, depression, menstrual irregularities, dry skin and hair, constipation and cold intolerance.
One in twenty people over the age of 12 suffer from low thyroid production. Thyroid problems are more common in women and people over 60 and often run in families. Some doctors think the decreasing estrogen in middle-aged women may contribute to low thyroid production, though they aren’t sure how.
Luckily, hypothyroidism is most often diagnosed with a simple blood test that checks for levels of both TSH and the main thyroid hormone, thyroxine, also known as T4. At New Day Vitality, your T3 level—another important thyroid hormone—is also checked. Other doctors seldom test for T3. Most hypothyroidism is treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone, usually for life. (NDV uses natural thyroid hormone replacements.)
The symptoms of low thyroid hormones are subtle but increase over the years. If left undiagnosed, hypothyroidism can lead to serious health problems. So, if you’re more tired than you think you should be, don’t just attribute it to growing older. Get your thyroid and reproductive hormone levels tested. Don’t let that half an ounce turn into pounds.