Obese Because of Hypothyroidism

If obesity is a glandular problem, which gland is responsible and how can it be treated?

Battling an Endocrine Problem

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Being overweight has medical and social consequences. It can often trigger hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Are you an individual who has battled weight all of your life. You endure teasing and embarrassment. As a result, you might become reclusive. Some people who tackle the problem with extreme fitness routines see success with variable duration. Morbidly obese patients may resort to bariatric surgery, gastric bypass (Lap-Band®) surgery and/or liposuction.

Critics say, “Stop eating so much.” You may attempt to assuage the dis­parage­ment by responding, "I’m big boned” or, “It’s a glandular problem.” But no one listens. Physio­logi­cally, weight has little to do with bone size. It could, however, be an endocrinology glandular problem. If so, which gland is responsible and how can it be treated?

Purpose of the Thyroid

The purpose of your thyroid gland is to produce, store, and release thyroid hormones into your blood­stream. These hormones, called T3 and T4, affect almost every cell in your body and help control your body’s metabolism. A healthy thyroid regulates body weight, sleeping patterns, skin and hair, fertility, menstrua­tion, tes­tos­terone, and cho­les­terol levels. So an unhealthy thyroid causes problems in these areas. You may find yourself scurrying between derma­to­lo­gists, rheuma­tolo­gists, psycho­thera­pists, gyne­co­lo­gists, and urolo­gists. When so many factors are simul­ta­ne­ously out of whack, it may signal the need for a blood test to rule out an endocrine problem. If it turns out to be an endocrinology issue, your internist will likely refer you to an endocrinologist.

Symptoms of Thyroid Anomalies

People with type 1 diabetes have a high like­li­hood of developing an under­active thyroid—a condition called Hashimoto’s disease. About 10 percent of the time the thyroid issue is an overactive thyroid, called Graves’ disease.

Researchers Kumar A, et al, writing in the International Journal of Andrology, say that there is “a direct association between sub­clinical hypo­thyroidism and hypo­andro­genaemia” (not to be confused with hyper-andro­genemia). “Testosterone deficiency and its symptoms should be kept in view while managing sub­clinical hypo­thyroidism in male patients.”

Researchers Gould DC et al. noted that symptoms of androgen deficiency (hypo­andro­genaemia, hypo­gonadism, hypo­testo­stero­naemia) may be a common accompanying factor in men with the metabolic syndrome and when androgen deficiency and metabolic syndrome are present together “they may be considered as a specific entity, the hypoandrogen-metabolic (HAM) syndrome.”

Sensitivity to cold, constipa­tion, poor concen­tra­tion, depres­sion, sleepiness and unexplained weight gain may be evident.

Myxedema, or hypo­thyroidism, is characterized by a diminutive underactive thyroid gland. Externally, there may be apparent puffiness beneath the eyes along with facial corpulence, dry skin, coarse hair and clubbed fingertips. Though some people have no symptoms, increased sensitivity to cold (hyperthermia), constipation, poor concen­tra­tion, depres­sion, sleepi­ness and unexplained weight gain may be evident.

Conversely, an overactive thyroid (hyper­thyroidism) manifests bulging eyes, thin face and swelling neck (goiter). The inclusion of iodine within table salt since 1924 in the U.S. has greatly reduced the incidence of hyper­thyroidism. Remember, “hyper-” is fast, and overactive. “Hypo-” is slow and under-active—this relates to being overweight.

Fat Because of Hypothyroidism

Can Hypothyroidism Be Treated?

Hypothyroidism may be a temporary side effect of medication or the result of a thyroidec­tomy. When no causative agent can be identified, it is likely congenital. However, adult-onset hypo­thyroidism is more prevalent with advancing age. There is no cure for hypothyroidism but in nearly all cases it can be treated or controlled.

Normally, physical exercise, regularly scheduled balanced meals, and sufficient rest help regulate the metabolism. But when the internal system of regula­tion is malfunc­tioning, the best efforts require medical intervention.

A natural hormone called thyroxine, often abbreviated as T4, which synthesizes with triiodo­thyronine or T3, may be pre­scribed to regulate the metabolic system. Under many names, desiccated thyroid has been used for over a century. Basically, it is beef and pork thyroid glands that have been dried, powdered and mixed with T3 and T4. In some cases, hormone replacement includes estrogen or testos­terone supplements.

There is no cure for hypo­thyroidism but in nearly all cases it can be treated or controlled.

Other metabolic disorders may contribute to obesity. See an endocrinology professional for proper care. If you need help locating one, are looking for patient support or wish to participate in thyroid clinical trials, you can visit the American Thyroid Association (ATA) website.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate, local editor, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD (WebMD), and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz. He was a 15-year Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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