According to EndocrineWeb.com, the thyroid’s main function is to convert iodine to the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triodothyronine, also known as T4 and T3. All of your cells rely on T3 and T4 for metabolic regulation, which means that thyroid hormones participate in every function and system in your body. Thyroid disorders stem from over or under production of T3 and T4, which results in malfunction of the body’s metabolic processes. Doctors use thyroid blood tests to detect thyroid disorders.
How Thyroid Disorders Affect Weight
Thyroid disorders affect weight in one of two ways. Either your thyroid disorder will cause your metabolic processes to slow, resulting in inhibited weight loss, or it will cause your metabolic processes to speed up, resulting in excessive weight loss. Slow thyroid-related metabolic processes are known as a hypothyroid state, while overly quick thyroid-related metabolic processes are known as a hyperthyroid state. Both states are disordered and require medical intervention. If you suspect you are experiencing either hyperthyroid or hypothyroid symptoms, consult an endocrinologist.
According to MayoClinic.com, Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune thyroid disorder that occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. It is a progressive disorder that ultimately causes irreversible damage to your thyroid gland. Inexplicable weight gain is one of the primary symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease. This results from a lowed metabolism due to the increasing amount of damaged thyroid tissue. People with Hashimoto’s disease may gain weight or have difficulty losing it. The severity of this problem depends on the severity and progression of the disease.
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. While it can be secondary to Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism is also its own diagnosis. This condition occurs when your body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones. It is more common in women than men, especially in women over the age of 50. Hypothyroidism may go undiagnosed for many years. At its onset, patients are usually asymptomatic; however, as the condition progresses, symptoms like obesity, exhaustion and joint pain become more apparent. Hypothyroidism slows down every process in your body, including metabolism. Having untreated hypothyroidism can make losing weight very difficult.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune thyroid disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to overproduce thyroxine, according to MayoClinic.com. The result is an unusually quick metabolic rate. Symptoms of Graves’ disease include irritability, racing heart, fatigue, bulging eyes and unexplained weight loss. The disease is more common in women than men, and its typical onset is after the age of 20. People with Graves’ disease often lose weight rapidly, whether they are trying to or not.
Treating Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid disorders that cause sluggish thyroid function are treated with natural or synthetic replacement of T3 and T4 hormones. Endocrinologists carefully monitor thyroid blood tests and adjust dosage accordingly. Many patients report successful weight management once their medication reaches optimal levels. Graves’ disease treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms associated with the illness. Treatments include beta blockers, anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine treatment, which may return metabolic processes to normal rates.