One out of four people are obese in the today’s world. This sudden increase in the obesity rate is blamed because of several factors. Though most of the cases are the results of over eating and irregular life styles, few cases are reported because of underlying diseases. One of such causes is under active thyroid. It is estimated that 19 in every 1,000 women and 1 in 1,000 men will develop hypothyroidism or under active thyroid at some stage or the other. And the direct effect of this condition is weight gain.
What is thyroid and what is its function?
Our body needs special chemical messengers to regulate the metabolic activities. These special chemical messengers are termed as hormones that are produced and released by the endocrine glands situated at various locations in the body. Thyroid is also one such endocrine gland whose main function is to produce thyroid hormones. Each hormone has a specific role to play. So, each and every hormone is important to the body. Deficiency in any of the hormones may alter the metabolic activity of the body. A thyroid gland secretes two types of hormones. They are thyroxine (also called T4) and triiodothyronine (also called T3). Both the hormones play an important role in the body’s metabolism. These are necessary in the process of burning the fatty acids in the body. This process is termed as lipid metabolism. They regulate and boost up this process. The production of these hormones is in turn controlled by another hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. This hormone is called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). So, all the three hormones are a must to regulate the process of lipid synthesis to ensure that the fat levels in the body are maintained.
What causes under active thyroid or hypothyroidism?
Older people and women are more vulnerable to this condition. Few of the causes of under active thyroid or hypothyroidism are
Deficiency in iodine: Iodine is a major component necessary for the production of the thyroid hormones. Its deficiency slows down the production process and ultimately results in the under active thyroid or hypothyroidism.
Autoimmune thyroiditis: It is an autoimmune disease that is found to be the major cause in most of the cases. In case of this disease, body’s self antibodies fail to recognize the thyroid cells and start killing them. As a result, the functioning of the thyroid gland stops abruptly and results in hypothyroidism.
Treatments for hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is a condition where in the thyroid hormones are produced in more than required amounts. Treatments for this condition slow down the activity of the thyroid gland to control the production of the hormones. Sometimes, it completely affects the functioning of the gland and causes hypothyroidism.
Congenital hypothyroidism: This is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to develop in the new born babies.
Disorders of the pituitary gland: As said earlier, LDH is required for the production of the thyroid hormones. Deficiency in this hormone or any disorders of the pituitary gland may also result in hypothyroidism.
How does Under Active Thyroid Causes Weight Gain?
One of the major effects of under active thyroid or hypothyroidism is weight gain. Under active thyroid or hypothyroidism slows down the lipid metabolism in the body. As a result, fats are not readily burnt and are stored within the body. As you consume more, more and more fats get deposited. The amounts of calories burnt become less than the amount of calories consumed. So, it’s obvious that one starts gaining weight because of under active thyroid or hypothyroidism.
How can this be diagnosed?
Symptoms like sudden weight gain, feeling tired and sleeping a lot, and dry and/or pale skin are some of the symptoms which indicate this condition. This condition can be diagnosed by monitoring the levels of TSH and thyroid hormones form the blood samples of the patients. The presence of autoimmune hypothyroidism can be confirmed by the detection of the specific antibodies in the blood sample.
What is the treatment given for this condition?
Under active thyroid or hypothyroidism can be treated by taking the right dosage levels of thyroxine. This dosage also helps in losing weight as the lipid metabolism in the body will be boosted up because of the increased thyroxine levels in the body.