Is It Possible To Gain Weight If You Have An Overactive Thyroid
Something that can be confusing to patients is the fact that it is possible to have an overactive thyroid but also experience weight gain.
This is confusing because an overactive thyroid should lead to weight loss, at least that’s one of the main symptoms associated with this condition.
So how is it possible to gain weight?
The answer comes when we discuss how an overactive thyroid is treated.
The treatment for hyperthyroidism or excessive thyroid hormone production is to BLOCK this from happening.
What happens if you block thyroid hormone production and conversion?
And this makes sense if you think about it for a minute:
The goal when treating an overactive thyroid is to block how much thyroid hormone your body is using.
But is your Doctor going to be able to perfectly balance thyroid hormone production and conversion in your body with medication?
And the logic goes that as long as you are not overactive it’s okay to be a little bit underactive.
But the problem with having an underactive thyroid is that you potentially switch from losing weight to gaining weight.
So the weight gain is from the TREATMENT of your thyroid, not secondary to the overactive thyroid itself.
It’s better to think about weight gain as a consequence of treatment rather than a side effect or symptom of having an overactive thyroid.
Who Is At Risk For Thyroid Cancer
About three times as many women get thyroid cancer as men. The number of women with thyroid cancer is also going up. By 2020, the number of women with thyroid cancer is expected to double, from 34,000 women to more than 70,000 women.9
Thyroid cancer is more common in women who:10
- Are between the ages of 25 and 65
- Had radiation therapy to the head or neck, especially in childhood, to treat cancer
- Have a history of goiter
- Have a family history of thyroid cancer
Are There Risk Factors That Increase Your Chances Of Having Thyroid Problems
Females are more likely to have a thyroid-related disease than males but other factors may increase the risk of thyroid problems. These include a family history of thyroid disease, having an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, ingesting excessive iodine , age older than 60, and having had a thyroid issue or thyroid cancer in the past.
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Faq: Frequently Asked Questions
Is Graves disease the same as hyperthyroidism?
Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to and is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, but theyre not the same thing. While all patients with Graves disease have hyperthyroidism, patients with hyperthyroidism may not necessarily have Graves disease .
In Graves disease, the body makes an antibody called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin , which causes the thyroid gland to make too much thyroid hormone . Graves disease runs in families and is more commonly found in women.
Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism: Whats the difference?
The difference all comes down to the prefix in each word: hyper means over or exaggeration, while hypo means under or beneath. When it comes to -thyroidism, hyper- means an overactive thyroid gland, and hypo- means an underactive one.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, can actually be caused by treatments for hyperthyroidism, since their whole purpose is to decrease thyroid gland activity. Those treatments, however, can tip the balance too far.
What should I eat to manage hyperthyroidism?
With hyperthyroidism, its more important to manage what you dont eat. High levels of iodine consumption can exacerbate hyperthyroidism, so its a good idea to watch your iodine intake. Look for ways to limit iodine in your diet by restricting your consumption of foods such as: fish, seaweed, shrimp, dairy products, and grain products .
Does hyperthyroidism go away on its own?
Do You Have An Overactive Thyroid
Millions of people have an overactive thyroid gland. Many don’t know it. This condition, known as hyperthyroidism, occurs more often in women than in men. Since the thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism, an overactive thyroid puts the body into overdrive.
The symptoms of an overactive thyroid can be subtle and suggest any number of other health problems, ranging from a bowel problem to heart disease or a mental health issue. Some of the signs and symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
- Heat intolerance. A sped-up metabolism leads to an increase in body temperature.
- Exhaustion. A body perpetually in overdrive tires out more quickly.
- Emotional changes. Fatigue coupled with an overstimulated central nervous system can lead to a variety of emotional changes. Anxiety intermixed with depression, as well insomnia or irritability, are not uncommon.
- Perspiration and thirst. As your body temperature rises, your sweat glands tend to overwork, and you feel the need to continually replenish fluids.
- Constant hunger. As your body uses up energy, it tends to cry out for more. Some people have an insatiable appetite.
- Unexplained weight loss. Even though you may eat constantly, you could lose weight, usually between 5 and 10 poundseven more in extreme cases.
- Racing heart. You may notice your heart racing out of the blue. This can occur when you are exerting yourself or when you are relaxing. You may find your pulse is much faster than normal.
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How Are Thyroid Nodules Treated
Treatment depends on the type of nodule or nodules that you have. Treatments include:
- Watchful waiting. If your nodule is not cancerous, your doctor may decide to just watch your condition. You will get regular physical exams, blood tests, and perhaps thyroid ultrasound tests. If your nodule does not change, you may not need further treatment.
- Surgery. Surgery may be necessary to take out nodules that may be cancerous or large nodules that cause problems breathing or swallowing.
- Radioiodine. This type of treatment is helpful if you have nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. Radioiodine causes nodules to shrink and make smaller amounts of thyroid hormone.
What Is Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss is a noticeable drop in body weight that occurs even if the person is not trying to lose weight. The weight loss does not come about because of diet, exercise or lifestyle changes. Weight loss of 10 pounds or more, or five percent of body weight, over a period of 6 to 12 months is considered unexplained.
Unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of a serious condition or illness. For this reason, it is important to seek medical attention if you have weight loss that cannot be explained.
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In People Being Treated For Thyroid Disease
A high TSH may be found in people being treated for either hypo- or hyperthyroidism.
With hypothyroidism, a high TSH usually means that the dose of thyroid hormone replacement needs to be increased.
In some cases, however, the dose is okay, but the medication is not being fully absorbed. For example, many foods and medications can affect the absorption of Synthroid in your system. Learning what to avoid while taking this medication is important for it to work properly.
With hyperthyroidism, a high TSH usually means that the treatmentbe it surgery, radioactive iodine, or medicationswas so effective in limiting the production of thyroid hormone that it caused the person to become hypothyroid.
A low TSH often means that a person has an elevated level of thyroid hormones.
Who Develops Thyroid Eye Disease
Thyroid eye disease is a rare condition. Each year it affects about 16 women and 3 men in every 100,000 people. Most of these people also have a problem with an overactive thyroid gland and have an underlying autoimmune condition. Occasionally, thyroid eye disease occurs when the thyroid gland appears to be working normally. However, people with an apparently normal thyroid gland at the time of thyroid eye disease have usually had abnormal thyroid function in the past or they go on to develop abnormal thyroid function in the future.
Thyroid eye disease generally occurs in middle age. Some people carry genes which make it more likely that they will develop thyroid eye disease. It is also more likely to develop if you smoke, particularly if you are a heavy smoker.
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What Causes An Overactive Thyroid
Excess thyroid production is most often the cause of an autoimmune disease known as Graves’ disease.
This condition results in hyperthyroidism due to stimulation of the thyroid gland.
In Graves’ disease, your body produces antibodies, known as thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin, which attaches to your thyroid gland and initiates the production of thyroid hormone.
Normally, when thyroid levels increase, your body can shut off excess production.
But the presence of these antibodies causes constant stimulation of your thyroid gland which results in the symptoms we listed above.
But Graves’ disease is not the only cause of this condition.
Some patients may experience an increase in thyroid hormone from nodules which ignore normal feedback loops.
Other conditions, such as tumors which produce TSH can also initiate the same response.
The conditions we listed above tend to cause a sustained and chronic increase in thyroid hormone over time.
But there are other conditions which temporarily cause an overactive thyroid .
Thyroiditis is worth mentioning because it can cause a very confusing clinical picture and one which causes alternating stages of both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid.
This rollercoaster, which is seen in conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, can be VERY confusing for patients.
What Is Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer happens when cancer cells form from the tissues of the thyroid gland.
Most people with thyroid cancer have a thyroid nodule that does not cause any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have swelling or a lump in your neck. The lump may cause problems swallowing. Some people get a hoarse voice.
To tell if the lump or nodule is cancerous, your doctor will order certain tests. Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous.
For more information about thyroid cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer page.
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Why Was This Study Needed
The thyroid gland produces hormones that help to regulate the bodys metabolism. Around 15 in every 1,000 women in the UK have an underactive thyroid though fewer women in pregnancy have the condition, about four in every 1,000 women. People with definite low thyroid hormones can feel tired or depressed, gain weight and experience muscle aches, it can also lead to high cholesterol. In pregnancy there can also be harms to the unborn child including failure to develop normally and reduced intelligence. Therefore, clinical hypothyroidism during pregnancy is usually treated with levothyroxine, a drug that replaces thyroid hormone.
However, the exact risks associated with borderline blood levels, and the cut-off thyroid levels for treatment are not clear. There could even be harms from unnecessarily treating women with sub-clinical hypothyroidism. About 5% of women screened in pregnancy would be labelled as having sub-clinical hypothyroidism, depending on definitions.
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What Are The Longer
The long-term implications of hyperthyroidism depend on the treatment option used. Patients taking carbimazole tablets will likely need to take them daily for life. Blood tests should be carried out regularly to monitor thyroid hormone levels and to adjust the dose of carbimazole accordingly. The majority of patients are able to find a medication regime that works for them and go on to live full, active lives.
If untreated, besides feeling poorly and unwell, the patient is also at risk of heart dysfunction or failure due to the increased heart rate and raised metabolic state. This irregular heart rate can result in strokes and dizziness. An overactive thyroid can also affect the patients bones and cause osteoporosis, which results in weak bones that are more likely to fracture.
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What Are Clinical Trials For Hyperthyroidism
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of hyperthyroidism, such as its natural history, clinical presentation, and genetics.
What Your Thyroid Does
Hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, can speed up your metabolism and cause unpleasant symptoms.
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What Happens If Hyperthyroidism Is Left Untreated
Hyperthyroidism can impact many parts of your body. Different systems, ranging from your vascular system to your skeletal system can all be affected if you have an overactive thyroid.
Complications from untreated or undertreated hyperthyroidism include:
If youre experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, its important to see your healthcare provider so they can determine a proper diagnosis and recommend treatment.
Hyperthyroidism Signs And Symptoms
- Fine, brittle hair
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
If youâre an older adult, youâre more likely to have subtle symptoms like a faster heart rate or being more sensitive to warm temperatures. Or you could just feel more tired after everyday activities.
Certain medicines can mask the signs of hyperthyroidism. If you take beta-blockers to treat high blood pressure or another condition, you might not know you have it. Be sure your doctor knows about all the medications you take.
When you first get hyperthyroidism, you may feel energetic. This is because your metabolism is sped up. But over time, this increase in your metabolism can break your body down and cause you to feel tired.
Usually, hyperthyroidism develops slowly. If youâre young when you get it, the symptoms might come on suddenly.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Hyperthyroidism
Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. A hyperthyroidism diagnosis cant be based on symptoms alone because many of its symptoms are the same as those of other diseases. Thats why your doctor may use several thyroid blood tests and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and find its cause.
Because hyperthyroidism can cause fertility problems, women who have trouble getting pregnant often get tested for thyroid problems.
Problems With The Assessment Of Thyroid Function And Levothyroxine Replacement Levels In Pituitary Disease
News Date | Medically Fact Checked
Dr Trevor A Howlett, MD FRCP
Consultant Endocrinologist, Leicester Royal Infirmary
Doctors who are not specialists in endocrinology often have difficulty interpreting thyroid blood tests in patients with pituitary disease which can lead to failure to diagnose a mild deficiency and inappropriate changes in levothyroxine dosage in patients taking replacement.
This article attempts to explain the problems with interpretation of thyroid blood tests in pituitary disease to help you to become an expert in your own pituitary-thyroid function.
In normal health, the thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones which broadly keep all the cells and organs of the body ticking over at the correct rate. With too little thyroid hormone in the body, everything slows down and symptoms may include tiredness, slowness in thinking, weight gain, constipation and dry skin. Conversely with too much thyroid hormone everything speeds up and people may notice a fast heartbeat and increased risk of heart rhythm problems, weight loss, sweating and shakiness.
Because of the usefulness of TSH, many labs will now only measure TSH when a non-specialist orders thyroid function tests or TFTs .
This means that TSH levels alone are useless for deciding whether someone with pituitary disease has developed a pituitary-thyroid deficiency or whether they are on the correct amount of levothyroxine replacement .
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What Is An Overactive Thyroid
he thyroid gland produces tetraiodothyronine and triiodothyronine . These are regulatory hormones that control metabolism in the body. They affect how your cells utilize energy. Ideally, a properly functioning thyroid gland ensures effective and efficient use of energy.
An overactive thyroid gland increases thyroid levels. It produces more hormones than the body requires normally. When your thyroid gland produces T3 or T4 or both in excess, it leads to hyperthyroidism. This increases the bodys metabolic rate, causing issues such as arrhythmia and weight loss.
What Are The Serious Complications Of Hyperthyroidism
People with advanced and severe hyperthyroidism face a ramshackle of problems, some of them life-threatening. The good news is many patients do not reach this level of severity.
Complications can include:
- Graves ophthalmopathy, also known as thyroid eye disease . A new drug, teprotumumab , was approved by the FDA in 2020 to treat thyroid eye disease.
- Irregular heartbeat, which can lead to stroke, heart failure, blood clots, and other heart problems
- Thyroid storm
- Pregnancy complications, including high blood pressure during pregnancy, miscarriage, low birth weight, and premature birth
- Bone loss and osteoporosis
The longer you have an overactive thyroid and go without treatment, the greater the risk of lifelong complications, even after treatment. As over 60% of people with thyroid disease go undiagnosed, its important to listen to your body before reversible symptoms like weight loss and insomnia progress to serious or life-threatening issues.
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When To See A Gp
See a GP if you have symptoms of an overactive thyroid.
They’ll ask about your symptoms and if they think you might have a thyroid problem, they can arrange for a blood test to check how well your thyroid is working.
If the blood test shows that you have an overactive thyroid, you may be referred for further tests to identify the cause.