That number on the scale can sometimes be frustrating – no matter what you do, it still fails to satisfy you.
It is possible that your weight might be telling you something else, beyond the food you eat and the calories you regularly burn, and one of the organs that might be sending you an error message is your thyroid gland.
Located just right inside your neck, the thyroid gland is an organ that produces hormones “necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally” and also affects your metabolism, according to the British Thyroid Foundation, thus it can be a factor that’s affecting your weight.
Two complications of the thyroid linked to weight are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. These diseases tend to be more common among women.
As food and “fitness” are popular topics nowadays, there are also common misconceptions surrounding these disorders.
A number were addressed in a special media briefing Wednesday by endocrinologist Dr. Juan Carlo Dayrit of ManilaMed, who also provided information on the disorders’ indications and effects which are important to be aware of.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism: which is which?
Hyperthyroidism, characterized as having “above normal thyroid hormone levels”, is often attributed with having less risk of being overweight. According to Dr. Dayrit, this is because it makes you “hypermetabolic”.
As many struggle with shedding extra pounds for a “fit” body, some actually envy people with the condition. This particular view that the disease is a “good thing” was debunked by the physician.
“It’s not a blessing. It is a disorder, meaning it’s a disease, meaning it needs to be treated. Most of its effects are detrimental to our overall health and it’s not beneficial”, he said.
While having a lower number on the scale is very likely with hyperthyroidism, it is also possible to gain weight with the disease. In fact, Dr. Dayrit said that a common characteristic among the majority of hyperthyroid people is having a “voracious appetite”.
According to him, “[if] your intake is too much than what you burn, more than what the thyroid does for your metabolism, you will definitely gain weight so it’s still possible to gain weight with hyperthyroidism.”
Further complications may also arise from hyperthyroidism, such as an enlarged heart, irregular heartbeats, lower levels of potassium, and osteoporosis among others. It can also precipitate heart attacks with patients with pre-existing cardiac conditions, said Dr. Dayrit.
Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is the opposite, referring to having “low or below normal thyroid hormone levels”.
The most common myth about it is that hypothyroid patients are bound to be overweight.
According to Dr. Dayrit, “while it is true that people with untreated hypothyroidism tend to be overweight, it is not a sure thing, yes. Among those who are under treatment, overweight and obesity numbers are comparable to euthyroid people”.
He also added that a stable weight is still attainable with the disease as long as the food intake is lesser.
Also, obesity due to hypothyroidism does not only occur because of high levels of food intake.
“Those with hypothyroidism aren’t always obese due to fat. It’s often a problem of water retention.”
Treatments for the thyroid
Genetics play a big role in the acquisition of these complications, and their symptoms tend to be “very non-specific”, meaning they also come up as indicators of other illnesses, according to Dr. Dayrit.
Despite that, treatments are readily available for hyperthyroid and hypothyroid individuals.
For hyperthyroidism, Dr. Dayrit specified three options: tablets, radioactive iodine, or surgery.
Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, may be treated through tablet intake, which he described as an easy and affordable medication.
Obesity cannot be all blamed on the thyroid, however. According to Dr, Dayrit, “thyroid contributes to being obese but it’s not the primary cause of being obese. It’s multi-factorial.” He explains, “it can be secondary to your genetics, it can be secondary to the environment, meaning what you eat, what you’re exposed to eat, what you learn to eat […]”.
A balanced lifestyle, and wise choices can still do wonders for you to attain a fit and healthy body.