The New Year has officially begun, and this month is National Thyroid Awareness Month. January is a time for understanding what the thyroid is, how it functions in the body, and why it is essential for good health. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating weight levels.
Approximately twenty million people have a thyroid condition in the United States, and sixty percent of those people do not even know it. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower neck that sits in front of the windpipe. It is the gland that produces hormones that influence metabolism, body temperature, and growth. Unexplained changes in weight are usually an indicator of a thyroid condition. The balance of hormones produced by the thyroid help regulate weight control.
While there are many types of thyroid conditions, two of which have a direct impact on how the body controls its weight. They are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and each one has a different effect on how the thyroid functions.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which specific factors prevent the thyroid from producing enough thyroid hormones. The result is an underactive thyroid gland. The disease develops slowly, and the symptoms may go unnoticed for an extended time frame.
If not adequately treated, hypothyroidism makes weight loss difficult. The condition causes the metabolism to slow down, meaning the average recommended daily caloric intake might cause weight gain. The condition may require more exercise than average for weight loss. However, there are things that doctors may prescribe to help curb weight gain for those with hypothyroidism. Some patients opt for weight loss surgery if they cannot lose the weight on their own.
Unlike hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is a condition in which an individual has an overactive thyroid. With hyperthyroidism, the gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. The result is an accelerated metabolism and an irregular heartbeat. Hyperthyroidism can lead to unexpected weight loss, tremors, and anxiety. Hyperthyroidism is treatable. While there may be no cure for it, there are ways to maintain the issue and live a healthy and normal life.
The thyroid plays a crucial role in everyday body function. Without it, the body will perform with an ongoing feeling of lethargy. If it is overworked, stress levels increase. Most importantly, it is an asset to those trying to control their weight. Fortunately, medical breakthroughs and medically supervised weight loss programs have made it possible for someone living with a thyroid condition to maintain a healthy weight while living a normal life.
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