What is Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland is responsible for the release of the hormones controlling our metabolism. When the thyroid gland does not function as it is supposed to be, there becomes a hormonal imbalance. It can be due to a deficiency or an excess of hormone production.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, thus, causing imbalance. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism, from the word itself, is when the thyroid gland excretes more than enough thyroid hormone, thus, still causing imbalance. It has been always been said that too little or too much of something is not in any way good for our body.
Most Common Causes
Here are some of the most common causes for hypothyroidism:
1. Iodine deficiency – This has been cited to be the most common culprit for causing hypothyroidism.
2. Thyroid gland inflammation – Inflammation damages the thyroid cells, thus, interfering with its natural capacity of hormone production.
3. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – An autoimmune disease where one’s own immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This results to inflammation, damaging the thyroid cells and interfering with the thyroid’s functions that later leads to an underactive thyroid gland.
4. Postpartum thyroiditis – Usually happens after childbirth when a pregnant woman has history of immune disorders related to the thyroid gland. If the inflammation is not immediately diagnosed, this can also lead to an underactive thyroid gland.
5. Congenital hypothyroidism – Some persons are born with an underactive thyroid gland. However, this happens rarely.
6. Radiation treatments to the neck.
7. Surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
Most Common Symptoms of a Hypoactive Thyroid Gland
Most of the time, a hypoactive thyroid gland is not easily detected in a person whose thyroid gland is just starting to malfunction. The symptoms become much more pronounced and noticeable when the hypothyroidism is already at the latter stage.
Let us classify the symptoms into two – the early and the late symptoms. Early symptoms include increased sensitivity to cold or cold intolerance, constipation and low heart rate or bradycardia. While late symptoms may include goiter or the pronounced enlargement of the thyroid gland and more pronounced abnormal menstrual cycles which can lead to infertility.
Why It Can Cause Weight Gain
Being the gland that produces hormones responsible for the body’s metabolism, there is a complex relationship between the thyroid diseases, metabolism, and weight. Any abnormality in hormone production can alter the body’s metabolism.
The relationship of the three can be illustrated as:
Hypothyroidism = Decreased thyroid hormones = Low metabolism = Weight gain
Hyperthyroidism = Increased thyroid hormones = High metabolism = Weight loss
The thyroid hormones regulates metabolism making them in direct proportion to each other. A decrease in metabolism rate results in weight gain because the body cannot metabolize in the way it is supposed to due to lacking thyroid hormones.