Weight Management and Thyroid disease
Today we wanted to begin to discuss a topic that some of us might find interesting. There are many aspects to losing weight and over the course of the next few weeks we want to touch on as many as we can.
As most of us are aware diet and proper exercise play a big role in weight management but there are other factors as well. We intend to go into what constitutes healthy diet and exercise in the future but for now we encourage you to check your BMI (Body Mass Index) which is the first step to finding out the state of your health in its most basic premise. Your doctor can run tests to check that your BMI is within a healthy range for your body type and height or if you just want to do a quick check there are charts that will show your BMI based on your height and weight. This will not be a fully comprehensive test without a doctor’s assistance but it may give you an idea of where you are.
Once you find out where you are on the scale, you can make a plan for your weight management. Keep in mind that being above or below the healthy weight margin is inadvisable. Being underweight or overweight can cause health problems that could affect every aspect of your life.
We know it is no fun, but your first point of call in weight management is diet and exercise. Now, should you find that there is only so much that your change in diet and physical exertion can do, there are other paths that you can explore. If you fall into the category of individuals that see very little to no change in your BMI after effort put forward, you should go to your gynecologist. Once at your doctor’s office there are two tests you should ask for.
First you will want to have your doctor check your thyroid. So what is your thyroid? Your thyroid is a small gland in the neck that produces hormones. These hormones are necessary for a number of functions in your body, including regulating your weight. This is accomplished by maintaining your metabolism. Your thyroid produces two hormones, T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). If these are unbalanced or in over production or under production it can cause problems in your overall health.
What many people are unaware of is that checking your thyroid can be a dual process. Not only should your doctor screen to see if your thyroid is producing the appropriate hormones, which is the test that most doctors will perform should your thyroid need to be checked, but also that the thyroid gland is being given the appropriate instructions from your brain. The pituitary gland in your brain regulates the thyroid and tells it to produces more or less T4 and T3 hormones by producing TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
Both glands, the thyroid and pituitary, should be checked when examining your thyroid, particularly if a routine thyroid examination does not show a problem with the thyroid but you are still having trouble managing your weight in spite of your efforts towards such a goal.
So how will your doctor go about testing your thyroid, should either of you suspect that you need to? To start, your doctor will want to do a physical exam and determine your symptoms, which may include having a look at your skin, eyes, weight, temperature and watching your neck when you swallow. They may also want to run some blood tests, possibly do an ultrasound exam of the thyroid, and a thyroid scan. The thyroid scan is performed by having the patient swallow a small amount of radioactive iodine. A special camera then detects the areas of the thyroid that have absorbed the radioactive iodine. The results will show which areas of the thyroid are under active or over active. This final test will not be performed if the patient is pregnant.
If you do in fact have a problem with your thyroid your doctor can prescribe medication and hormones to regulate your thyroid. So how often should you get your thyroid checked? It is recommended that you get your thyroid checked every 5 years after you turn 50, but should you find that you are suffering from the following symptoms you should ask your doctor to run the appropriate tests;
For Hypothryroidism (when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones): fatigue or weakness, weight gain, decreased appetite, change in menstrual periods, loss of sex drive, feeling cold when others do not, constipation, muscle aches, puffiness around the eyes, brittle nails, and hair loss.
For Hyperthyroidism (when the thyroid produces too many hormones): fatigue, weight loss, nervousness, rapid heart beat, increased sweating, feeling hot when others do not, changes in menstrual periods, more frequent bowel movements, and tremors.
As mentioned earlier both of these thyroid problems can be treated with medication. For hypothyroidism, medication is the main way to raise hormone production to a normal rate but it is not the same for hyperthyroidism. If anti-thyroid medication does not lower thyroid production a doctor may choose to treat a hyperthyroid patient with radioactive Iodine in order to reduce areas that are able to produce hormones. Should that not do the trick then the doctor may choose to remove part of the thyroid gland.
Dr. Paschall does these checks for patients who show symptoms of thyroid disease, so if you are in the area and you would like to have your thyriod checked stop in and see us. Stay tuned for the next instalment of our discussion into weight management where we want to talk about how sugars affect your diet and whether you should be intaking natural sugars or artificial ones.
All the best!