Weight Gain And The Thyroid

By: Mick Keeman

Part of the endocrine system of the body, the thyroid is a gland which produces hormones that are responsible for metabolic regulation. Imbalances in this gland can have many effects on the body including fluctuations in weight, either up or down, that can not be adjusted through diet or exercise alone.
The symptoms which are exhibited depend on whether the imbalance experienced is an overactive or under active thyroid. With an overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, there is an overabundance of hormones produced. In the case of an under active thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, too little of these hormones are produced. In either case, the result is a metabolic imbalance.
A too rapid metabolism is a result of hyperthyroidism. People with this condition will normally experience an inability to gain weight despite having an increased appetite. This is a serious condition, especially as it is usually accompanied by other symptoms of a sped up nervous system. These symptoms may include palpitations, anxiety, shortness of breath and many others.
In the case of hypothyroidism, the person experiences the opposite problem. With the slowing down of the metabolism typically comes water retention and an excessive weight gain. Other symptoms can be increased cold sensitivity, feeling tired more easily than normal and possibly depression.
Symptoms generally do not show up all of a sudden. Rather, they tend to appear slowly and develop over time, from weeks to months. All of the possible symptoms can be related to other illnesses as well, so it can be difficult to determine that it is time to seek medical help. Fatigue, for example, can be present for many reasons and rarely do we first think of a thyroid dysfunction.
Once a person does seek the help of a medical professional, there are various tests that can be done to diagnose thyroid disease including, but not limited to, blood tests, as these alone do not always give an accurate assessment. There are many possible causes of either an under active or overactive thyroid and there are different ways to deal with the conditions as well.
If a person suffers from an overactive thyroid, they can take medications which help to lower the output of hormones. In this case, care must be taken with dosages so that the person does not become hypothyroid. In many instances, people taking these medications can even experience periods of remission of their disease. Treatment with iodine that is radioactive is another possible method, although some people prefer not to use this method because of that radioactivity. Surgery is generally not opted for unless absolutely necessary.
With hypothyroidism, the recommended treatment is almost always hormone replacement medication. This can come in a more natural form, made from the thyroid of pigs, or synthetic. However, the synthetic type is far more commonly used.
As with many illnesses, many people would prefer to find a natural alternative therapy. Among those that are being used for disease of the thyroid are herbal supplements, diet, acupuncture or acupressure and yoga or other breathing exercises. However, many alternative therapists say that these are much more effective if the condition is in its early stages and not yet severe. Even so, these therapies may be of interest to sufferers of thyroid conditions as an adjunct to their more traditional therapies.

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