When Weight Gain Really IS Hormonal
Weight is such a highly charged subject in western culture. Being too heavy or too thin invites a plethora of commentary, most of which is unsolicited and critical. Anyone whose body type is outside the currently accepted social standard is often subjected to a myriad of misguided opinions about their physiology, especially if they’ve gained weight.
Contrary to the opinion that anyone who has gained weight can simply eat less, exercise more, and solve their weight problem, there are numerous physical processes that cause fluctuations in one’s body mass. Hormonal imbalances, including an imbalance in the thyroid, can cause weight gain.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is an important part of the endocrine system, which regulates numerous bodily functions. For example, the endocrine system is responsible for sending messages throughout the body that relate to metabolism, growth, sexual development, sexual function, and mood.
The thyroid, which is located at the base of the throat, is a butterfly-shaped gland (although it is sometimes called an organ), and it is an integral part of proper endocrine function. The thyroid is responsible for secreting hormones throughout the body that help regulate:
- Body temperature
- Weight gain or loss
- Cholesterol levels
- Muscle strength
How Does it Work?
As only part of the endocrine system, the thyroid relies on the pituitary gland for messages regarding how much of the thyroid hormone T4, or thyroxine, to send throughout the body to regulate the bodily functions for which it is responsible. If thyroid function becomes unbalanced, it can result in either hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid is overactive, or hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid is underactive. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
- Feelings of anxiety
- Heart palpitations or an increased heart rate
- Losing weight
- GI symptoms, including frequent bowel movements
- Feeling hot
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include physical complaints that are the opposite of an overactive thyroid:
- Weight gain
- Feeling cold
Symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid can be symptoms of other conditions, however, so it is important to procure an accurate diagnosis.
To diagnose a thyroid condition, your health practitioner may order blood tests that measure T4, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and, possibly T3 (triiodothyronine), a second primary thyroid hormone. In addition, your clinician may do a physical examination of the thyroid by palpating it. Depending on the results of the lab work and physical exam, there may be additional imaging ordered.
For those in the Mesa, Arizona area, Rose Canyon Health & Wellness provides an integrative medical approach to weight loss, including a plan for those who are affected by a thyroid imbalance. Board-certified family nurse practitioner, Megan Haden, will assess your thyroid to determine whether its function is affecting your weight. As a practitioner who integrates traditional medical treatment with alternative treatment methodologies, Megan can help you develop a comprehensive, supportive weight management plan that might include:
- Hormonal support
- A nutritional evaluation and plan
- Individualized management plan
Setting You Up for Success
The best recipe for success in your weight loss journey is the one that works for you. Rose Canyon Health & Wellness can help you determine exactly what works for you through evaluation of your biomarkers to determine whether any underlying imbalances are contributing to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Megan may use a combination of strategies to support you in achieving your health and weight goals.
By combining her knowledge of traditional medicine and her passionate commitment to whole-person wellness, Megan can help you free yourself from the stress and stigma of the weight gain weighing you down in more ways than one.
Disclaimer: The information contained here was not written by a medical doctor and is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.