Unexplained Fatigue and Weight Gain: Could It Be a Thyroid Problem?

Unexplained Fatigue and Weight Gain: Could It Be a Thyroid Problem?

It’s easy to miss the signs of an underactive thyroid. That’s because thyroid problems cause symptoms that you may attribute to something else, such as stress or aging. 

Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder, and it occurs when your thyroid is unable to make enough hormones to meet your body’s needs. Symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain are common in people with hypothyroidism.

Patients in the Tarzana, California, area can trust Dr. Samuel I. Fink to provide the best internal medicine care with a patient-centered focus. Dr. Fink routinely evaluates, diagnoses, and treats thyroid problems such as underactive thyroid. Knowing what to look for helps you recognize when something is potentially amiss so you can seek evaluation. 

What is hypothyroidism?

When your thyroid is functioning properly, you’re unlikely to give it a second thought. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It produces important hormones that regulate a number of functions, including body temperature, heart rate, and the amount of calories you burn from food.

Under the direction of the pituitary gland, a healthy thyroid secretes the right amount of hormones to meet your body’s needs. Hypothyroidism occurs when you lack enough thyroid hormone. 

Signs and symptoms of thyroid problems

Hypothyroidism slows your body functions. Weight gain and fatigue are just two signs. Other hypothyroidism symptoms include:

If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, Dr. Fink can perform blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels. 

What causes underactive thyroid?

Autoimmune problems are the most common reason your thyroid becomes underactive. This happens when your immune system attacks the thyroid or its enzymes. 

Called autoimmune thyroiditis and Hashimoto’s disease, people with autoimmune thyroid issues produce thyroid-specific antibodies. Over time, the immune attack prevents the thyroid from producing enough of its hormones, leading to hypothyroidism. 

Secondary hypothyroidism is a condition that can occur when your pituitary gland fails to signal the thyroid gland to produce hormones. 

Who’s at risk for hypothyroidism?

Anyone can develop underactive thyroid. However, women are more likely to develop it than men, and your risk increases with age. Older women are particularly at risk of developing hypothyroidism. 

There’s also a genetic component to the susceptibility of developing hypothyroidism. People with a family history of hypothyroidism are more likely to develop it themselves. 

Treating underactive thyroid

Thyroid hormone replacement is the treatment for hypothyroidism. This involves replacing the hormones your body no longer makes. For most people, thyroid hormone replacement is lifelong. 

Once Dr. Fink confirms a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, he determines the appropriate starting dose. You need to follow up periodically to ensure that your dose of thyroid hormone is right for you. It’s not uncommon to require some tweaks in your dosage. Significant changes in weight often lead to a change in dose. 

Hypothyroidism and pregnancy

Hypothyroidism can also occur during pregnancy. Pregnant women with hypothyroidism may experience fatigue and other symptoms. 

Thyroid hormones are crucial for normal fetal development. These hormones aid in the development of the brain and nervous system. If your baby doesn’t get enough thyroid hormone during development, the brain may not develop properly, which could lead to problems. 

Untreated or inadequately treated hypothyroidism during pregnancy can also result in complications such as miscarriage or premature labor. If you have hypothyroidism, it’s critical to keep your thyroid levels within a healthy range during pregnancy. 

Several conditions can cause weight gain and fatigue. Dr. Fink can quickly and accurately diagnose or rule out thyroid problems as the cause of your symptoms. 

To schedule a thyroid evaluation, call our Tarzana office to speak with a knowledgeable team member who will assist you in setting up an appointment. You can also request an appointment online here on this website.

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