Did you know that while one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain, not every overweight person has this condition?
If you wake up in the morning feeling more tired than when you went to sleep, experience unexplained palpitations in the heart, and have unexplained weight gain or loss, it could be that your thyroid hormones are imbalanced.
The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in the front and base of your neck has a greater role in how our body works than we realize. It might be a small looking gland but the hormones secreted by it are important to our brain, heart, muscles and other organs. So, if anything goes wrong with it we can be in quite a bit of trouble.
One of the most important things it controls is how our body uses energy, which means that it is connected to your metabolism. If you have an overactive or underactive thyroid, the metabolism could end up being too high or slow, respectively. When you have an overactive thyroid, it is called hyperthyroidism and when it is underactive it's hypothyroidism.
When you have hyperthyroidism your body is making too much of the hormone and when you have hypothyroidism it is making too little. “The major difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is the thyroid’s hormone output,” Dr. Minisha A. Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, told Everyday Health.
Those with this condition can experience slowed metabolism, tiredness, and weight gain, according to Healthline. An underactive thyroid can slow down your bodily functions. In the United States, hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism.
Dr. Brian Jameson, an endocrinologist with Geisinger in Danville, Pennsylvania told US News that when levels of two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) are too low in the blood is when people experience symptoms.
Some of the symptoms include fatigue, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, slowing of bowels or development of constipation, weight gain, puffy face, muscle cramps, irregular, frequent or heavier than normal menstrual periods, forgetfulness, depression, a hoarse voice, pain, stiffness or swelling of the joints, muscle weakness, aches or stiffness.
If it takes place in children, it can affect the vertical growth of the child. In teenagers, it may cause an "alteration of pubertal characteristics," Dr. Joseph Wanski, an endocrinologist with L.A. Care Health Plan in Los Angeles, told the news organization.
Another endocrinologist, Dr. John Duncan, who works with Health First Medical Group in Melbourne, Florida said that not all people with excess weight have hypothyroidism even though being overweight is a symptom.
While there is no cure, a person with this condition can keep the weight gain to only a few pounds by maintaining normal activity levels. However, there are others who feel too tired that they stop exercising, sleep more, and change their routine, which leads to further weight gain.
An overactive thyroid, on the other hand, comes with an entirely different set of problems. You could be feeling symptoms like feeling hot, sweating, problems falling asleep, racing thoughts, difficulty focusing on one task, forgetfulness, change in bowel habits, where bowels are looser, elevated heart rate and palpitations, anxiety, nervousness, or irritability, weight loss, menstrual problems, and fatigue.
The weight loss one experiences with hyperthyroidism is not a positive one for the body. It is associated with muscle weakness and constant fatigue, according to Everyday Health.
The diseases could be caused by "aberrant immunity cell function where white blood cells 'attack' the thyroid, which triggers under-function or over-function of the gland," according to Dr. Duncan. He added that there are children who inherit hyperthyroidism from their mothers and are born with it.
Another reason could be thyroid inflammation, also known as thyroiditis.
While thyroid problem can develop at any age there are certain factors that would make you more prone to it: if you are a woman, have been recently pregnant, are 60 or older, have a family history of thyroid or autoimmune disease or have a personal history of thyroid problems or surgery, or have an autoimmune disease.
Women are plagued with thyroid problems way more than men. In the US, more than 12% of people will have thyroid problem in their lifetime and as much as 5% of women will eventually have the problem, US News quoted American Thyroid Association as saying.